Sunday, 1 July 2018

Wheal Peevor- a forgotten historical mining gem

Remarkably few people that I talk to in Cornwall have heard of Wheal Peevor, which is situated in a remote area 1.5 miles north-east of the once rich mining town of Redruth. Largely overgrown and forgotten until 2003, Wheal Peevor was the subject of an £810,000 grant to repair, protect and preserve this important site, which was open to visitors in January 2008.
The mine site is extraordinary because it is a rare example of what was once ordinary, and the network of tracks and trails around the site, along with way finder points and very informative information boards, give a real insight into the history behind the landscape and the present-day diversity of the wildlife and flora.
Strategically placed information boards
So impressed was I when I first saw it, only a few weeks ago, that we will be incorporating a visit into the programme of next year's Physical Separation '19.
The once impressive entrance to Wheal Peevor
The five hectare site is unusual because it is the only 3 engine house mine site in the important central mining District around Camborne and Redruth. It contains the remains of three engine houses: the largest engine, with a 72 inch cylinder, was used for pumping water out of the mine; the second, used for winching material in and out of its shaft and the third, with a 32 inch engine, operated 48 heads of Californian stamps for crushing the ore, which was then treated in buddles, and the concentrate calcined to remove arsenic, the ruins of the processing plant also being part of the trail.
The stamps, pumping, and winding engine houses
The winding engine house viewed from the pumping engine house interior
The remains of 20th century Frue vanner foundations in front of the Stamps House
Wheal Peevor was a very wet mine underground, records stating that there were at one stage three Newcomen Engines working on the sett in an attempt to de-water the mine. By the early 19th century it also had the advantage of being drained by the Great County Adit, a network of over 40 miles of interconnected adits which drained over 100 mines in the district, before emptying into the Carnon River near the village of Twelveheads.
The mine was being worked for copper at shallow depth in the late 18th century, but when the copper price slumped after 1788, rich tin deposits were discovered at depth underlying the copper. The tin ore assayed at about 4% as opposed to the more usual 1-2% and fortunes improved, and in its heyday Wheal Peevor employed 186 men underground and about 135 people on the surface. The mine struggled on through the 1880s but by the late 1880s it was no longer economically viable and was abandoned. However attempts were made to re open it in 1912 and 1938 primarily for the extraction of wolfram.
Although Wheal Peevor was a relatively small mine it had been extremely rich, producing 3280 tons of cassiterite, 5 tons of 4% copper ore, 7 tons of pyrite and 12 tons of arsenopyrite between 1872 and 1889.

Twitter @barrywills  #PhysicalSeparation19


  1. The details on what is being mined is interesting; can you please identify the minerals (copper in which form) and any other detail on the metallurgical practices to extract the metals.

    1. Sorry TC, I thought it was clear in the posting that this was an 18-19th century mine, which closed well over a hundred years ago. The copper mineral was chalcopyrite, and as these were pre-flotation days the only methods available for upgrading were hand sorting and simple gravity techniques, with calcining used to burn off the sulphides from cassiterite concentrates.

  2. Wheal Peevor is an amazing walk around- and your photos do it justice.

    I do love a bit of stomp around there- especially if its wet. As its nicely gravelled.

    David Goldburn

    1. I hope you will be stomping around next June, Dave, with the conference. But I hope it is not wet- a bit cooler than it is now would be good though!

  3. Hi! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche.
    Your blog provided us beneficial information to work on. You have done a wonderful

    1. Many thanks. Hope all goes well with your project

  4. Very interesting to know the age old practices.



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