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Botallack Crowns Mine, Cornwall

Principal ores: TIN & COPPER

Penwith: grid reference SW362336

Notable minerals: Actinolite, Amethyst, Apatite, Aragonite, Atacamite, Augite, Axinite, Bismuth, Botallackite, Calcite, Cobaltite, Dolomite, Epidote, Garnet, Goethite, Magnetite, Malachite, Manganite, Opal, Pitchblende, Silver, Smaltite, Steatite,Tourmaline & Tremolite.

Approaching the Crowns section of Botallack Mine

Just over a mile northwest of St. Just, the mine we call Botallack includes the former Wheal Cock, Crowns and Carnyorth Mines as well as Parknoweth. It is more a group of mines rather than a single concern, with former workings commemorated in the names of its shafts. Its individual sections also undergoing name changes to further confuse the historian. For example, Carnyorth has been known as Nineveh, whilst Parknoweth was also known as Truthwall. To the east lies the mines of Levant and Geevor. There has been a mine in this area for at least 400 years. The historian John Norden wrote of the fact that the hamlet of 'Botallock' was 'a little hamlet on the coaste of Irishe sea most visited with tinners, where they lodge and feede, being nere theyre mynes' in 1590.

Looking down on the capped Engine Shaft at the Wheal Cock section of Botallack Mine

A closer look at Engine Shaft at Wheal Cock, Botallack Mine

What we consider as Botallack today dates from the early eighteenth century. In 1721, a lease to work the land here was granted by Lord Falmouth. Experts agree that Botallack as we know it is probably the result of an amalgamation of several other small more ancient mines. For example it is known that Wheal Cock - Grid Ref. 363337 to the northeast was working the submarine lodes '80 fathoms out to sea' for tin in 1778 according to William Pryce. Other mines of note are Wheal Chase - Grid Ref. 366329, Zawn a Bal - Grid Ref. 362332, Wheal Hazard - Grid Ref. 363335 and Wheal Hen - Grid Ref. 364337.

Crowns (Lower) Pumping Engine house at Botallack Mine

In about 1815 a shaft was sunk from the Crowns Rocks and a pumping engine installed to dewater this section of the mine. The mine continued to work the shallow deposits for tin and copper until the late 1820's. Ore reserves were becoming harder to locate within the sett's land boundaries. The mine struggled to survive with the low price of tin and was offered up for sale in 1835. The lease for the mine was bought by Steven Harvey James who became purser in 1836. The situation looked bleak as the new owner struggled to find new ore deposits. A shareholder's meeting was held in November 1841 where it was agreed to only continue the mine 'for the time being' in the hope of locating new reserves. Botallack's fortunes were soon to change however, in February 1842 a rich copper lode was discovered and the profits from this ensured the survival of Botallack for a few more years. It is largely due to Steven Harvey James' determination that the mine began to expand its workings.

Arsenic Labyrinth at Botallack Mine

Another view of the Arsenic Labyrinth at Botallack Mine

The site of the former Brunton Calciner at Botallack Mine

The mine broke even and was in a strong enough position to pay a dividend on its shares from late 1842. Things were looking up. A new whim engine was erected on Carne's shaft. The following year a new boiler was installed for the winder on Wheal Button Shaft. Botallack even had a visit by Queen Victoria in 1846. A new shaft was started in 1858 known as Boscawen Diagonal Shaft and this was visited by the future King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra on the 24th July 1865. Boscawen Shaft allowed access to deeper ore deposits out under the sea. See the Self Guided Trail by the The National Trust for more information. The requirement for labour increased with all this new development, the workforce increasing from about 170 people in 1838 to almost 300 men, 116 women and minegirls and 115 boys in 1865. The mine more than doubling in depth over the same period. In 1866 the nearby sett of Carnyorth to the south east was acquired with its main shaft being over 700 feet deep and employing another hundred or so workers there.

Pearces (upper) Winding Engine house at Crowns section of Botallack Mine

Tin production was at its highest through the 1860's with associated dressing floors and surface buildings being constructed to process the ore. A new stamps was erected at Narrow Shaft around this time. Unfortunately Steven Harvey James died in 1870 but his legacy continued through his son Steven Harvey James Jnr. It was announced in 1874 that the Crowns area of the mine was all but worked out and production ceased on the Boscawen Diagonal Shaft. As the mine entered 1875, tin prices fell once again - due largely to the discovery of alluvial tin in Queensland, Australia. Botallack Mine continued to work however from Engine Shaft and Skip Shaft on the Wheal Cock section of the sett, but overseas tin production kept the tin price depressed and Botallack, like many other Cornish Mines struggled to survive.

Looking back at the Crowns Engine houses from near Wheal Owles

A sudden violent rainstorm in November 1894 flooded the majority of Wheal Cock hampering production still further and another flooding incident within the next six months finally put paid to any future for Botallack Mine. A new lease was granted by Lord Falmouth in about 1906 on the understanding that the headgear MUST be placed on a spot now known as Allen's Shaft - which was named after one of the directors.

Allens Shaft headgear at Botallack Mine

The mine was reopened for a number of years with all the usual associated buildings erected on this southern end of the sett. The five compartment shaft was one of the largest ever constructed in Cornwall and reached a depth of over 1400 feet (246 fathoms). The richest tin lodes were, as with most lodes of the area, located far out under the sea and the enterprise was doomed to failure - work ceased here in 1914.

The remains of the vanner house on Botallack Sett

The plaque that is on the upper of the two mines at the Crowns; states that the mines here worked before 1721 and closed in 1914. The lower pumping engine house was built in 1830's and upper winding engine house (Pearce's) in 1858. Preserved 1984 by Carn Brea Mining Society....

The former counthouse at Botallack Mine

There is a wealth of information on the mines and miners of Cornwall available. Why not explore Cornwall's industrial heritage through the Bookstore?

Other nearby mines and their main ores

Wheal Edward (approx. 0.8 km; COPPER & TIN)

Spearn Consols (approx. 0.9 km; TIN & COPPER)

Wheal Owles (approx. 1.2 km; TIN & COPPER)

Levant (approx. 1.2 km; TIN, COPPER & SILVER)

Boscean (approx. 1.3 km; TIN)

Boswedden (approx. 1.5 km; TIN & COPPER)

Wheal Castle (approx. 1.5 km; TIN)

Geevor Mine (approx. 1.6 km; TIN)

St. Just Amalgamated (approx. 2.0 km; TIN)

St. Just United (approx. 2.2 km; TIN)


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