Wheal Coates and Towanroath
OS Explorer Map 104: Grid reference SW698505
Possibly the most picturesque location for a tin mine in Cornwall, with the exception of the Crowns mines at Botallack. The Towanroath pumping engine house lies on the North Cornwall coast just west of St. Agnes. It was constructed in 1872 and is a Grade II listed building in the stewardship of the National Trust. It pumped water from the 600 feet deep Towanroath Shaft of the Wheal Coates Copper and Tin Mine. The grilled shaft still visible just to the east of the engine house with the main workings lying just below the low water mark.
At low tide as long as CARE is taken it is possible to walk east from Chapel Porth beach and view the cavity of 'Towanroath Vugga' - Vugh being the Cornish for cavity. The natural opening in the cliffs eroded by the sea has been utilised by inventive Cornish miners to site their mine workings. Please take extreme care as the incoming tide is very fast and you could well be cut off with no exit to landward! This part of the North Cornwall Coast is rich in metals and many industrial relics from Cornwall's industrial heritage remain. Just inland from Wheal Coates lies Wheal Bungay while across the cove at Chapel Porth to the west lie the remains of the Wheal Charlotte copper mine.
Records state that there was some sort of mining going on in this area from at least the late 1820's although as with most mining in Cornwall, workings probably go back far into history. In its heyday between 1870-1880 the mine employed 138 people throughout the site, although production was intermittent and in general the enterprise was unsuccessful. The Whim Engine house overlooking Towanroath was built in 1880 and lies close to the stamps engine house built some years earlier.
The Stamps and winding (Whim) Engine house lies just seaward of the whim and was built in 1872-73. The dual purpose engine hoisted ore as well as crushing it from Towanroath shaft. This ore would then be further refined in the dressing floors and stored before transport to the smelters.
Just to the east of the main buildings at Wheal Coates lie the remains of the Calciner building. This Calciner was constructed for a failed attempt to re-work the mine between 1910-1913 and many of the surface buildings seen today date from that time. The Calciner was unusual in that it was a double bayed reverbatory type. The Calciner roasted the ore to drive off impurities - in the main, Arsenic. Compare this with the Arsenic Labyrinth at Botallack.
It is hoped to achieve 'World Heritage' status for this area shortly which should help to provide the necessary funding to improve and interlink all the mining areas and mineral tramway projects. The majority of the areas are off-road and suitable for walkers, horse riders and cyclists. There are even some parts accessible to wheelchair users.
For those of you with
possibly a little more time to explore, once you've done
bit', why not explore Cornwall's industrial heritage through its Tin and Copper Mines or learn more from my Cornish Bookstore