St. Austell Mining District - Fowey Consols
OS Explorer Map 106: Grid reference SX083558
Fowey Consols is located one mile northeast of St. Blazey in Tywardreath parish. It lies roughly in the middle of a large crecent shaped area of mines bounded by Luxulyan in the northwest, and St. Blazey and St. Austell in the southwest. Notable mines of this area include Crinnis, East Crinnis, Pembroke and Par Consols. To the northeast lay Polharmon and ultimately Lostwithiel, whilst to the south lay Tywardreath and Fowey. It is one of the main mines within the Par Section of the St. Austell Mining District.
Fowey Consols is, as its name implies, a consolidation of several mines. In an area bounded by Penpillick, Carruggatt and Treesmill, five separate mines were amlgamated between 1822 and 1836. This amalgamation of the mines was largely due to the efforts of one Joseph Thomas Austen. In 1813 Joseph Austen inherited the estates of the Treffry family and set in motion a process of buying up controlling interests in the small mines of the area. He began to develop the assets, particularly the mineral wealth, understanding that the Luxulyan Valley was a convenient route between the high ground where he owned land and mineral setts and the coast. He leased the land from the Kendall family and built a leat, completed in 1820, on the eastern flank of the valley to provide water power to the mines. He built a new artificial harbour at Par, opened in 1829, a canal up the valley to Ponts Mill and two inclined plane railways to the mines. Firstly, Wheal Treasure, Wheal Fortune and Wheal Chance were consolidated in 1822 to form Fowey Consolidated Mine. In 1830 Wheal Hope was added, followed by Lanescot Mine in 1836. His entrepreneurial and business skills eventually making him an important character in Cornish mining circles. As his importance grew, Austen changed his name by deed poll to Treffry in 1838.
It is reported that Fowey Consols worked on '... more than 20 lodes' with at least 6 engine shafts. The major lodes being Bice's Lode, Black Lode, Trathan's Lode, Reed's Lode, Williams' Lode, Ann's Lode, Cook's Lode, Notwell's Lode, Sampson's Lode, Crosspark Lode and Bone's Lode. The lodes were worked from at least 25 shafts within the enlarged sett. These were (from North to South): Kendall's North, Carruggatt, John's, Austen's, Anthony's, West's, Tregaske's, Kendall's, Union, Trathan's (Wheal Chance), Pidler's Man Engine (Wheal Fortune), Bottrall's, Henrietta's, Blues (Wheal Fortune), Polsue's, Mundic, Ray's, Thomson's, Samson's, Hodge's, Seymour,s, Sawle's (Lanescot Mine), Coates', Powne's, Remfry's and Tremayne's Shafts.
Details of mine equipment and engines is also quite well documented. The main shaft was Austen's Man Engine Shaft with a 80-inch pumping engine installed over it in 1834. It remained at work until 1867. Other engines included a 80-inch pumping engine on Henrietta's Shaft (1840 to 1843), later moved to Treffry's North Shaft at Par Consols, with the engine house renovated as recently as 1996; a 40-inch pumping engine on Union Shaft (1826 to 1834); a 24-inch pumping Engine on Sawle's Shaft (1832-38). On Powne's Shaft an 18-inch winding engine installed in 1832 was replaced with a 22-inch double acting engine in 1838. It remained at work until 1867. On Trathan's Shaft a 20-inch double acting engine was installed in 1832 and remained thre until 1860 when it was moved to Kendall's north Shaft. An 18-inch double acting engine was at work on Ray's Shaft between 1832 and 1867, as well as a 22-inch double acting winding and ore hoisting engine on Davis' Shaft. A 22-inch whim worked over Bottrall's Shaft between 1837 and 1867 and a 24-inch whim worked Hodge's Shaft between 1843 and 1855.
Reports on mines and their workings were not required to be kept until the mid-nineteenth century so any records of production prior to 1850 are at best sketchy and profits made largely estimates. From 1820 to 1867 however, it is known that the Fowey Consols produced over 383,000 tons of copper ore at an average grade of 7.8%. Research shows that over 1,700 people were employed at the mine in 1844 and, although this dropped to below the thousand figure in 1846, Fowey Consols was still a very important employer in the area.
There are two excellent reports on the state of Fowey Consols. One recorded by Joseph Yelloly Watson in his 1843 book entitled 'A Compendium of British Mining' states '... Is the parish of Tywardreath. In 1813, these mines, then called Wheal Treasure, Wheal Fortune, and Wheal Chance, commenced working; and stopped in 1819. The amount expended on them, during that time having been £49,563 16s 11d. In 1822, they were purchased by J. T. Treffry, Esq., of Fowey, and consolidated under the above title. In 1836, Lanescot, an adjoining mine, was united with the Fowey Consols, this mine having divided £45,000 between 1822 and 1832.
Thomas Spargo, some years later in 1865 give us a lengthier report, stating that Fowey Consols '... in Tywardreath, Cornwall, 4,940 shares. Purser, Major Davies, R.M., Fowey. Manager, Captain Francis Puckey, St. Blazey. Lords, Richard Kendall, Esq., John Tremayne, Esq., and Mr. Pedlar's representatives. Dues, 1-24th. Depth of adit, 40 fathoms; depth below, 300 fathoms. 250 men, 50 females, and 50 boys employed. Rock, clay-slate. Steam pumping-engine, 80-inch. All the other mechanical work is performed by waterwheels, driven by a large stream brought into the sett by the late Mr. Treffry. There is a man-engine worked by water.
Records of production are:
Now that 'World Heritage' status has been achieved Cornwall in Focus will monitor developments and learn how the two remaining engine houses on Henrietta's Shaft and Austen's Shaft at Fowey Consols fare within the overall Mining framework.
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