North Wheal Basset Mine, Cornwall
Redruth: grid reference SW688398
History: Part of the former estate of John Pendarves Basset in the parish of Illogan - see a copy of Doidge's map of 1737 if you can. The mine is sometimes referred to as Carnkie Mine in historical texts due to its proximity to the village of that name. North Wheal Basset was originally a copper mine. it produced over 30,000 tons of copper ore between 1846 and 1869. In 1854 a large ore deposit of copper was discovered and development and shaft deepening took place to access it. The output of the mine increased by over 60% from 2752 tons copper ore to 4574 by the following year and to 5104 tons in 1856. The quality of the ore was good too. The high grade ore saw it acheive £9.976 a ton in 1855 increasing to £10.541/ton in 1856.
The good times quickly drew to a close however as it was discovered in 1857 that the potential ore reserves had been seriously overestimated. By the start of the next decade the mine's output had fallen to just over Over 1000 tons of copper ore. Production declined as the reserves of copper dwindled and tin, although present, wasn't in large enough quantities at the levels worked to make the mine viable. The mine was put up for sale in January 1868 and the company wound up in 1872.
As a final twist in the tale for North Wheal Basset, a few years later the existence of the Great Flat Lode was discovered with large reserves of tin at depth below their workings. By 1878, the new owners of the mine, now part of Wheal Basset set about re-opening the workings on North Wheal Basset sett to access this huge ore body. Development of the former North Wheal Basset sett increased greatly as the mine entered the 1880's. An 80-inch pumping engine was installed over Lyle's shaft to help with drainage - mainly caused by seepage from the by now defunct Wheal Uny. Production increased steadily from 8 tons black tin in 1880 (at £41.750/ton) to just over Over 1000 tons black tin by 1895.
The mine was connected to its neighbours at South Wheal Frances and West Wheal Basset to the north, by means of a mineral tramway. A short distance southwest along the trail through the tramway tunnel lies South Wheal Frances with its complex of buildings - a one time competitor but amalgamated with the Basset Mines on 9th June 1896.
Explore the various buildings of North Wheal Basset such as the low remains of the winding engine house at Miner's Shaft before following the tracks over to the well preserved twin engine houses of North Wheal Basset - Lyles shaft. There are even picnic tables here for those requiring a rest. The shaft named after Capt. J. Lyle, a notable mining man in these parts. Lyle's was connected, as it states on the plaque, to Grace's shaft some 150 metres to the west. The nearby winding engine house, built at the same time, contained a 27-inch rotative beam engine.
The Great Flat Lode is an enormous ore bearing body tilted at an angle of about 45 degrees situated to the south of Carn Brea. Normally lodes are found perpendicular to the ground surface or at best at angles of about 60 degrees. The Great Flat lode got its name as in relative terms it lay a lot flatter in the ground. This, meant that mines could be placed at the optimum locations to extract the tin or copper ore from the ground without digging to excessive depths. The Great Flat Lode Trail encompasses all the major mines of the Camborne-Redruth area running in a 7.5 mile multi-use circular trail around the granite hill of Carn Brea. Follow the hyperlinks for more information and photographs on the main sections of this excellent trail.
'World Heritage' status for this area was granted on 14th July 2006. This should help to provide the necessary funding to improve and interlink all the mineral tramway projects. The majority of the trail is off-road and suitable for walkers, horse riders and cyclists. There are even some parts accessible to wheelchair users. There are frequent information boards giving excellent in depth information on each of the sections, helping to whet the visitors appetite for more information.
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Other nearby mines and their main ores
Wheal Basset (approx. 0.4 km; COPPER)
West Wheal Basset (approx. 0.8 km; COPPER & TIN)
Wheal Uny (approx. 1.0 km; COPPER & TIN)
South Wheal Frances (approx. 1.0 km; COPPER & TIN)
Wheal Buller (approx. 1.0 km; COPPER & TIN)
East Carn Brea (approx. 1.3 km; COPPER)
Carn Brea Mines (approx. 1.6 km; COPPER, TIN & LEAD)
South Buller & West Penstruthal (approx. 1.7 km; COPPER)
Wheal Union (approx. 1.7 km; TIN)
Wheal Bucketts (approx. 1.8 km; COPPER)