Southampton, United Kingdom
The Crowns Of Cornwall
Photograph - Photograph
Just over a mile northwest of St. Just is Botallack, a cluster of mines which includes the former Wheal Cock, Crowns and Carnyorth Mines as well as Parknoweth.
Confusingly thr various sections have undergone several name changes over the years. Carnyorth has been known as Nineveh, whilst Parknoweth was also known as Truthwall. There has been a mine in this area for at least 400 years.
Botallack as we know it today dates from the early eighteenth century when in 1721 a lease to work the land here was granted by Lord Falmouth and Botallack is believed to be an amalgamation of several other small more ancient mines from before that time.
In about 1815 a shaft was sunk from the Crowns Rocks and a pumping engine installed to dewater this section of the mine. The mine continued to work the shallow deposits for tin and copper until the late 1820's. As Ore reserves became harder to locate the mine struggled to survive and with the low price of tin it was offered up for sale in 1835. The lease for the mine was bought by Steven Harvey James who became purser in 1836 but he struggled to find new ore deposits. At a shareholder's meeting held in November 1841 it was decided the future was looking bleak and the mine would soon have to close if new reserves weren't found soon. Luckily a new rich copper lode was discovered in February 1842 and Botallack's fortunes changed for the betterand. The profits from this ensured Botallack survived for a few more years and the mine began to expand its workings.
As soon as late 1842 mine broke even and was in a strong enough position to pay a dividend on its shares. A new whim engine was erected on Carne's shaft and the following year a new boiler was installed for the winder on Wheal Button Shaft. A new shaft was started in 1858 known as Boscawen Diagonal Shaft which was visited on the 24th July 1865 by the future King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. Boscawen Shaft allowed access to deeper ore deposits out under the sea. The new workings required more labour and the workforce increased from about 170 people in 1838 to almost 300 men, 116 women and minegirls and 115 boys in 1865 and the mine more than doubled in depth. In 1866 the nearby Carnyorth to the south east was acquired with its main shaft being over 700 feet deep and employing another hundred or so workers.
Tin production was at its highest through the 1860's with associated dressing floors and surface buildings being constructed to process the ore. A new stamps was erected at Narrow Shaft around this time. It was announced in 1874 that the Crowns area of the mine was nearly worked out and production ceased on the Boscawen Diagonal Shaft. In 1875, tin prices fell once again due largely to the discovery of alluvial tin in Queensland, Australia. Botallack Mine continued to work however from Engine Shaft and Skip Shaft on the Wheal Cock section of the sett, but overseas tin production kept the tin price depressed and Botallack, like many other Cornish Mines struggled to survive.
A sudden violent rainstorm in November 1894 flooded the majority of Wheal Cock hampering production still further and another flooding incident within the next six months finally put paid to any future for Botallack Mine. A new lease was granted by Lord Falmouth in about 1906 on the understanding that the headgear MUST be placed on a spot now known as Allen's Shaft, named after one of the directors.
The mine was reopened for a number of years with all the usual associated buildings erected on this southern end of the sett. The five compartment shaft was one of the largest ever constructed in Cornwall and reached a depth of over 1400 feet (246 fathoms). The richest tin lodes were, as with most lodes of the area, located far out under the sea and the enterprise was doomed to failure. Work ceased there in 1914.
The great exodus of skilled miners in the mid to late nineteenth century to all corners of the globe caused by the fall in copper and tin prices has ensured that there are thousands of people with Cornish ancestors and, to quote an old adage, 'Where there's a hole in the ground, you'll find a Cornishman at the bottom'.
Some information is from Cornwall in focus.
March 10th, 2013
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