The Mines of Gwennap - Wheal Maid
OS Explorer Map 104: Grid reference SW742423
Wheal Maid otherwise known as Wheal Maiden, lies about three quarters of a mile east-southeast of St. Day. It is better known these days as the start of the Poldice Valley of the Mineral Tramways. Its lunar like surface where plants struggle to grow are quite an eye-opener to how metals from mining can 'poison' the ground. The former sett lay immediately to the south of Goon Gumpas, adjacent to Wheal Jewell, on the west, Consols (Great Consolidated Mines) to the south and Poldice Mine to the north. The mine worked four main lodes: Martyn's Lode from Champion Shaft, Pryor's Shaft and Daw's Shaft; Tremayne's Lode from Tremayne's Shaft; North Lode from Grey's Shaft and South Lode from Western Shaft, Balance Shaft and Blakesley's Shaft.
Thomas Spargo explains some of this in his 1865 book entitled 'The Mines of Cornwall and Devon: Statistics and Observations' that Wheal Maid '... In Gwennap, is in St. Day United. This was worked by Messrs. Williams as a distinct mine before Mr. F. Pryor purchased Poldice, Wheal Unity, and Wheal Gorland, and united the whole into one concern. The new Company worked Wheal Maiden at a sacrifice'.
Wheal Maid dates from about 1790 and had a stop-start existence. The mine raised small amounts of tin, arsenic and a little lead ore. It became part of St. Day United Mines when Carharrack Mine (Whiteworks) and Poldice were amalgamated in 1852. Later, in 1864, Wheal Unity, Wheal Gorland and Creegbrawse & Penkevil were added to the group. The enlarged group was renamed 'Poldice Mines' in 1870. It was reworked briefly in the mid 1980's as this report shows: '... A tin mine owned by Carnon Consolidated, Ltd., a subsidiary of Rio Tinto Zinc. Started about 1985. 1984 operations produced an estimated 35,000 tons of ore (230 tons Sn). Depth is 655 meters.' as reported in the Mining Annual Review of 1985.
For more information on production dates and so on please see Roger Burt's excellent book Cornish Mines: Metalliferous and Associated Minerals, 1845-1913 (Mineral Statistics of the United Kingdom, 1845-1913).
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