Grenville United Mines - Great Condurrow
Great Condurrow Grid reference SW661393
All that is visible today of Great Condurrow Mine is the imposing engine house that used to contain an 80 inch pumping engine working on the 1700 ft deep Woolf's shaft. The engine itself was not new as it had previously pumped water from West Chiverton mine (Grid Ref. SW791508) and also Gwennap United mines. The engine house is in such good condition as it only dates from about 1906 when the mine was last (briefly) reopened. Condurrow is first mentioned in the mining journals in 1815 when shares were offered for sale. Initially a copper mine, Condurrow produced its first ore in 1818 when 29 tons of copper ore were sold. By 1821 the mine had broken into some high quality (grade) ore, with sales in 1825 acheiving a price of £8.22 a ton as opposed to the more usual £6.76 locally. The mine increased production selling 1146 tons in 1826. Condurrow only operated for a short time however before closing again in 1830. In 1844 however, Great Condurrow was reopened along with a mine called 'Old Tye' located about 300 metres to the south. In 1845, Baroness Grenville granted a lease to work the area to the southwest. This was to become Wheal Grenville Sett. The ore produced at the re-opened mine was raised quickly but was of a far lower grade than previously. Production doubled from 609 tons in 1846 to over 1230 tons sold in 1847. A period of uncertainty followed for the mine for the next few years until black tin was discovered at depth helping to return the company's finances into the black. Dividends were paid for the first time in 1849.
As is commonplace with a lot of Cornish mines, details of the structure, shafts and drives of the mine were not recorded until 1850. The main shafts at this time being Pryce's Sump Shaft, supporting a 36-inch pumping engine; Vivian's shaft (named after the mine manager Capt. N. Vivian); Hope's Shaft and Woolf's (later renamed Neame's) Shaft. Extracts from the Mining Journal for Xmas 1852 show that copper and tin was produced in almost equal measure by an underground workforce of just under 200 men and boys. As the decade wore on so extraction and production costs rose too. Copper ore prices fell from £7.089/ton in 1855 to just £3.03/ton in 1866. It was not possible to offer dividends after mid-1857 and worse was to come with the resignation of Captain Vivian, the Mine Manager in 1861. In the mid-1860's production was switched to tin as the mine swallowed up Tryphena Mine as part of Pendarves United Mines. By 1868 the 566 tons of black tin raised had a value of £32,364. As tin prices rose to over £75/ton in 1870-71 over £66,000 was made from sales. Costs however were high and accounting very poor. The company continued to run the mine at a loss for the majority of the next few years. Various unsuccesful attempts were made to rescue the mine but these were alas all in vain and the mine was abandoned in 1873. See also the neighbouring setts of South Condurrow and Wheal Grenville and Grenville United Mines
For more information on Condurrow and its neighbouring mines please purchase a copy of the excellent Cornwall's Central Mines: The Southern District by T. A. Morrison.
The Great Flat Lode is an enormous ore bearing body tilted at an angle of about 45 degrees situated to the south of Carn Brea. Normally lodes are found perpendicular to the ground surface or at best at angles of about 60 degrees. The Great Flat lode got its name as in relative terms it lay a lot flatter in the ground. This, meant that mines could be placed at the optimum locations to extract the tin or copper ore from the ground without digging to excessive depths. The Great Flat Lode Trail encompasses all the major mines of the Camborne-Redruth area running in a 7.5 mile multi-use circular trail around the granite hill of Carn Brea. Follow the hyperlinks for more information and photographs on the main sections of this excellent trail.
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 mineral tramway projects. The majority of the trail is 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