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Great Wheal Busy Mine, Cornwall

Great Wheal Busy

Principal ores: COPPER & ARSENIC

Gwennap: grid reference SW738445

Waymarker for Wheal Busy Loop

Wheal Busy lies roughly halfway between Redruth and Truro in Mid-West Cornwall. It is bounded to the north by the A30 trunk road and to the west by the former Hallenbeagle Mine. To the south lies the B3298 road between Scorrier and Chacewater. There is thought to have been some sort of mining industry here well back into history. There was mine working, as we would know it, as early as the 16th Century. It was formerly known as Chasewater Mine and was a notable copper producer from the early 1720's and is situated not all that far away from the North Downs area of Redruth - another large copper producer. Part of the Gwennap-Chacewater mining district - known at the time as "the richest square mile on Earth", the mine produced over 100,000 tons of copper ore and 27,000 tons of arsenic.

The Blacksmiths shop at Wheal Busy

Work began on the construction of The Great County Adit running between Bissoe and Scorrier in 1748 to drain the area of water. It was connected to Chasewater Mine and North Downs some thirty years later. Chasewater Mine had a major problem with water and installed a Boulton and Watt pumping engine in late 1777 to dewater the lower levels. The engine greatly outperformed the 72-inch Newcomen Atmospheric Engines which had been in situ since 1727. At this time the copper mines of Cornwall required a source of coal for the pumping engines which was provided by the South Wales coalfields. In return the mines sent their copper back to be smelted via the small harbour at Portreath. The importance of the mines of this and the Gwennap area is illustrated by the fact that they produced over a third of the global production of copper during this period. The arsenic stack from the calciner was finished in about 1810.

Engine House over shaft at Wheal Busy

The chief shafts of the area are Old Sump Shaft (later renamed Fielding's), Matthews' Shaft, Rickard's Shaft, Engine Shaft, Moyle's Shaft, Poole's Shaft, White Shaft, Wheal Vor Shaft, Wheal Hodge Engine Shaft, Wheal Fire Shaft, King's Shaft and Bennetts'. The current engine house standing over Engine Shaft with its adjoining boiler house was initially built in 1856 and housed a 85-inch pumping engine built by Harvey's. This engine only worked for about 10 years however, when in 1866 the Great Slump caused part of the mine to close. The sign over the Blacksmith's Shop dates from the ill-fated attempt to rework the mine in 1873. A new 90-inch engine was purchased from Perran Foundry at the cost of over £4000. It was only asked to work for part of the year however as the mine closed in July 1873. The final pumping engine installed was an 85-inch engine (built 1852), transferred and modified from a mine in the St. Austell area and installed during 1910 for yet another re-working of the area.

Calciner chimney at Wheal Busy

In 1924 the Californian Stamps was built to rework the site for the final time.

Bases of the Californian Stamps at Wheal Busy

Looking across the gorse bushes to Wheal Busy Calciner Chimney

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

Killifreth (approx. 0.7 km; COPPER & TIN)

Wheal Daniell (approx. 1.1 km; OCHRE & LEAD)

North Wheal Busy (approx. 1.1 km; COPPER, TIN, ZINC & LEAD)

Hallenbeagle (approx. 1.3 km; COPPER & TIN)

Wheal Unity Wood (approx. 1.4 km; COPPER & TIN)

Creegbrawse & Penkevil United (approx. 1.6 km; COPPER & TIN)

North Treskerby (approx. 1.6 km; COPPER & TIN)

East Downs (approx. 1.8 km; COPPER)

Wheal Unity (approx. 2.0 km; COPPER)

Wheal Rose (approx. 2.2 km; COPPER & TIN)


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