WHEAL BASSET MINE STAMPS RUINS CORNWALL
The arched doorway of the ruined Frue Vanner (ore separation) house of Wheal Basset mine with distant upslope derelict stamps (ore crushing) engine house (built 1868 with an unusual configuration of two beam engines).
These industrial ruins are a testament to the engineering skills of the Victorians in mining & processing tin, copper, lead and arsenic ore.
Copper has been mined here for centuries. The Carnkie Bal sites were being mined by groups of miners by the C15th. Problems with flooding were encountered as shafts got deeper. Innovations then followed and by the C17th machinery driven by horse and water power was used until steam power further transformed the industry.
Wheal Basset, formerly South Wheal Basset until 1831, became part of the Basset Mines Ltd group from 1895 which amalgamated six neighbouring copper and tin mining setts resolving some boundary incursion disputes. The setts were named after the important Basset mining family of nearby Tehidy that owned the land and granted the mining leases.
Wheal Bassett was once the greatest copper producer in the area and second only to neighbouring mining sett of West Wheal Basset in black tin. Between 1832 and 1895, Wheal Basset produced 128,370 tons of copper ore and 9,320 tons of black tin. An amazing 15 shafts were sunk, namely: Grace's, Lyle's Mitchell's, Doctor's, Marriott's, Boundary, Sampson's, Carnkie, Richard's, Theaker's, Old Sump or Engine, Stephen's, Fisher's Dennis's and Magor's. It’s heyday as a copper mine was 1854 when it produced 8,378 tons. In 1864 Spargo noted the mine employed 248 men, 46 women and 63 boys (total 357). Pumping engines, 72 and 36 inch. Stamping-engine, 18 inch (24) heads. Winding-engines, 19 and 18 inch. Winding and crushing-engine, 20 inch. The copper industry collapsed in 1866 and the mine struggled on until 1880 when it finally reached the famous Great Flat Lode tin deposits causing a secondary peak in production. Absorbed by Basset Mines Ltd from 1896, Wheal Basset's operations were reduced which caused drainage problems at the other sites. An arsenic calciner was built to reprocess the ore for this by-product. The combined mines operation shut in 1918 after prices slumped following the First World War.
The surrounding landscape is dotted with disused mines and associated buildings and now forms part of the UNESCO Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site no.1215. This area was hugely important and pioneering in the development of water and steam power driven techniques and skills that were exported around the world.
The Great Flat Lode Trail links several of these fascinating and largely forgotten sites. Taken near Carnkie SE of the prominent granite hilly outcrop of Carn Brea in the parish of Illogan near Camborne & Redruth, Cornwall, SW England, UK.
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