OS Explorer Map 104: Grid reference SW706442
Wheal Peevor lies on North Downs, about a mile and a half north east of Redruth town centre, in the hamlet of Radnor. The five hectare site little known to all but the keenest mining enthusiasts offers a chance to see a pumping engine house, winding engine house and stamps house along with associated ore processing and dressing areas such as ore bins, buddles, settling tanks, a calciner and chimney.
Largely overgrown and forgotten until 2003, Wheal Peevor has been the subject of an £810,000 grant to repair, protect and preserve this important site. The aims of the Wheal Peevor Project were to make the site suitable for inclusion in the larger Mineral Tramways Project - a series of interconnecting trails and paths covering the whole Camborne-Redruth former mining area. To the west lies the Tolgus Trail whilst to the north-east lies the Wheal Rose section of the Coast to Coast Trail. This has now been completed with the site open to visitors from January 2008. There is also a small car park adjacent to the site for about five vehicles. For more details on the Wheal Peevor Site please Click HERE.
Wheal Peevor lies on the northern fringe of the Carn Brea-Carnmemellis granite igneous intrusion and is bounded by Wheal Boys, Wheal Prussia, Wheal Briggan, Great North Downs Mine and West Wheal Peevor. Prior to the Industrial Revolution North Downs was a large area of heathland stretching from the north coast of Cornwall to Truro. The town of Redruth was still relatively small and Camborne was little more than a hamlet on the turnpike road west.
As Cornwall moved into the Eighteenth century landowners were keen to exploit the potentially rich mineral wealth of their property. The Mineral Lords for this area were the St. Aubyn family - of Clowance. A sett was granted here in about 1701 and this area was known as Little North Downs. Originally a copper mine working mainly at the 40 fathom below adit (280 feet) level, Wheal Peevor was a very wet mine underground. Records state that there were at one stage 3 Newcomen Engines working on the sett in an attempt to de-water the mine. It was hoped to eventually drain the mine into the County Adit but the discovery of sizeable copper deposits at Parys Mountain in Anglesey caused a major slump in copper prices between 1788 and 1799 and Peevor like many other mines struggled.
Some time later rich tin deposits were discovered at depth underlying the copper . The tin ore assayed at about 4% as opposed to the more commonplace 1-2% and fortunes improved. Mitchells pumping engine house was erected and pumped the mine by flat rods attached to a 60-inch cylinder. A rotative winding engine was built housing a 22-inch cylinder and in its heyday Wheal Peevor employed 186 men underground and about 135 people on the surface. In 1876 a stamps complete with engine house holding a 36-inch cylinder was erected to crush and recover the ore. Buddles and a calciner were also constructed as well as a re-vamping of the pumping cylinder at Mitchell's. A second hand 70-inch cylinder was acquired from Wheal Violet Seton [grid ref.SW632414] - to the west of Camborne and installed. There was however another crisis looming at the end of the 1870's, with the discovery of ore reserves in the far east and Australia...the ore price was depressed once again.
The mine struggled on through the 1880's but finally closed in 1889 before being sold off in 1894. Wheal Peevor had, in its time produced about 3,280 tons of 3-4% tin. There were abortive attempts to reopen part of the workings in 1911 and 1938 in a search for wolfram - tungsten to harden the steel used in artillery shells. West Wheal Peevor was also prospected in the 1950's but again nothing was to come from this enterprise.
Now that 'World Heritage' status has been acheived Cornwall in Focus will monitor develpments and learn how the Wheal Peevor site will fit into the overall Mineral Tramways framework.
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