Thursday, 29 August 2019

Sad farewell to one of Cornwall's most impressive tin dressing sites

I first took a party of MEI Conference delegates to the historic 19th century Basset Mines in 1999. The Basset Mines lie in the heart of the Camborne-Redruth tin mining district, often referred to as the 'birthplace of modern mining'.
19th century engine houses on the Great Flat Lode
South Wheal Frances, which mined the ore from the 'Great Flat Lode' is on the well-maintained Great Flat Lode Trail. The area was too flat for efficient ore dressing so the mined ore was transported to two processing plants near the village of Carnkie, the first, Wheal Basset, being on the trail, but the much more impressive West Wheal Basset, with its imposing engine house, which drove an 80-head stamp battery, is unfortunately not. Nature has now completely taken over and access to the remains of the stamps, vanners, buddles and the arsenic calciner and labrynths now virtually impossible. 
West Wheal Basset, only a decade ago
A recent visit with friends shows how brambles and gorse have completely taken over, and now we have only very fond memories of the many visits to the area with our delegates.
August 2019.....
.....and at Physical Separation '13
Reagents '04 delegates by the remains of the arsenic calciners
The same area in August 2019
With Physical Separation '13 delegates
Probably our last conference visit, Physical Separation '17
Many of the Great Flat Lode mines fed their tailings into the aptly named nearby Red River, which discharged into the Atlantic Ocean at Godrevy. I remember the sea in that area often being bright red due to the hematite in South Crofty mine tailings, and Carol Richards, a King Edward Mine volunteer, has sent me this aerial picture taken in 1982, of the beach and sea around Godrevy.
Thankfully, when South Crofty closed in 1998, the Red River soon became crystal clear and Godrevy is now noted as an area of natural beauty.
Twitter @barrywills


  1. Interesting and thought provoking. Despite the encroachment by brambles and gorse, I imagine this site will remain of interest to historians and - in time - even archeologists; those stone structures don't seem likely to go away anytime soon! Thanks for sharing all this.

  2. Sad demise of an industry


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