Geevor Mine Mine, Cornwall
Penwith: grid reference SW375345
Situated 2 miles northeast of St. Just, Geevor was formerly known as North Levant. There has been a mine of some sort on this particular stretch of north Penwith coast from at least the early part of the eighteenth century. The historian John Norden wrote of Carn Meal Bal (Wheal Bal) in 1690 whilst nearby Penzance was granted status as a coinage town some thirty years earlier. As different investors and mine adventurers tried to make their fortune so the names of their mining enterprises changed. It is recorded that 'Huel an Gever' was working this ground in 1716 along with other nearby mines at Wheal Geavor, Wheal Mexico and Wheal Stennack.
The name Geevor comes from an anglicised form of the area's cornish name of 'Stennack an Gever' - the tin ground of the goat. The tin concentrate produced in the mill and froth flotation plant would then be sent to the smelter at Capper Pass on Humberside. On return ceremonial tin ingots from Geevor were stamped with a fish-tailed goat to signify their origin. A new company was formed in 1851 called 'North Levant' and within nine years were investigating the possibility of working the richer subsea lodes. The mine grew gradually over the next quarter century or so expanding into the former workings of Wheal Bal and Wheal Carne.
In 1891 'North Levant' stopped working due to the generally depressed state of the mining industry in the far west. The mine lay idle until 1905 when it was purchased by the West Australian Gold Fields Company. The new management renamed the company as 'North Levant and Geevor Ltd.', with its main shaft being Wethered Shaft. The mine survived the turmoil of the First World War and a new shaft was sunk in 1919 to commemorate the Allies victory the previous year. This was Victory Shaft.
Further exploration continued over the next few decades as known reserves were depleted. New ore bodies were discovered at Grenfell Lode (Victory shaft) and the rich Simm's Lode (near Boscaswell Lode) in the early 1960's. In 1975 the decision was taken to drive a sub-incline shaft from Victory Shaft to connect Geevor's 18th level with the lower submarine levels of Levant Mine - at the 278 fathom main tramming level. This extension was opened by completed in 1979 and opened by Her Majesty the Queen on 28th November 1980. There were also plans to run another sub-incline shaft from Victory Shaft over to the ore reserves remaining in the Botallack Sett. New headgear was erected over the refurbished Allen's shaft near to the Botallack Counthouse and exploratory work carried out.
All these plans were to come to nothing in October 1985 when the price of tin crashed drastically from over £10,000/ton to round about £3,500/ton. This was caused by a couple of factors: Firstly new alluvial tin was discovered in Malaysia and Brazil and secondly the United States decided to release all their strategic tin stockpile reserve onto the open market at the London Metal Exchange. This glut of tin drove prices down in free-fall and made the remaining Cornish mines basically unviable overnight. This was the death knell for Geevor (closed 16 February 1990) and within a few years all Cornish Mines.
After three years of uncertainty following the closure 'Geevor Tin Mine Heritage Centre' rose from the ashes of what remained due largely to the foresight of Penwith and Cornwall County Councils with a dedicated group of volunteers from the area. I have visited the mine three times since its opening in August 1993 and each visit has offered something new. Currently there are exhibits of mine memorabilia, technical displays, a tour of selected surface buildings including the Drill Shop and the Miner's Dry. There are tours of the milling area at selected times and a chance to visit the underground workings of Wheal Mexico with some excellent guides. In short, I would strongly recommend that no visit to Cornwall would be complete without a visit to Geevor. On 27th May 2006 it was announced that the Heritage Lottery Fund has pledged £2.5m to help expand and enhance Geevor as the Premier mine heritage site in the country.
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Other nearby mines and their main ores
Levant (approx. 0.7 km; TIN, COPPER & SILVER)
Boscaswell Downs (approx. 0.8 km; TIN & COPPER)
Spearn Consols (approx. 0.8 km; TIN & COPPER)
Pendeen Consols (approx. 1.5 km; COPPER & TIN)
Botallack Crowns (approx. 1.6 km; TIN & COPPER)
Wheal Owles (approx. 2.2 km; TIN & COPPER)
Wheal Edward (approx. 2.2 km; COPPER & TIN)
Boscean (approx. 2.6 km; TIN)
Boswedden (approx. 3.0 km; TIN & COPPER)
Wheal Castle (approx. 3.0 km; TIN)