Porthtowan Mines - Tywarnhayle
OS Explorer Map 104: Grid reference SW702472 & SW698473
The best way of visiting the mines of Porthtowan and Tywarnhayle is as part of a walking tour starting at the car park in Porthtowan. Ignoring the converted engine house on the southwestern side of Porthtowan beach; with your back to the sea walk up along beach road to meet the coast road. Cross the road with care, especially in summer and walk to the right of the Avalon Restaurant.
The lone chimney immediately behind the building is the remains of South Wheal Towan - Grid ref. SW696475, a copper mine that worked between 1817 and 1874. There was a 70-inch pumping engine installed in an engine house over a shaft just seaward of the chimney as well as an 18-inch winding engine but there are no remains visible today. South Wheal Towan produced almost 25,000 tons of copper ore in its lifetime, continuing after the closure of Wheal Towan in 1835 and was incorporated into the Tywarnhayle Sett in 1849. Continue up the valley passing the chimney pausing to notice the sound of running water on the opposite side of the road. This leat or stream powered waterwheels and streaming operations in the past. A short distance further on lies a rocky path leading up the hillside. heading left leads up above the Echo Corner chimney whilst the right hand paths lead to Taylor's Shaft - Grid Ref. SW698473, or up to John's engine house and shaft on the hillside above.
Following the lower route to Taylor's Engine House is quite straightforward and not too strenuous. Arriving at Taylor's, the first thing that strikes you is the fact that the chimney is separate from the engine house. Another interesting fact is that the house contained a 58-inch pumping engine with a wooden beam and this can be witnessed by the narrow slot in the bob wall of the building. The engine lying idle from 1852. It is possible to walk with care around to the shaft in front of the building. The sound of running water echoes in the 480 feet deep shaft breaking the silence. Below on the road lies the power supply house built in 1907 to house generators for a 1906-08 reworking of the site. Return to the start of the path and now follow the uppermost path as it climbs the hill up towards John's engine house. There are quite a few things of note as you ascend the steep path.
Now that 'World Heritage' status has been achieved Cornwall in Focus will monitor develpments and learn how the Porthtowan Mines fare within 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