Flat Al-Stanley Hikes the Great Flat Lode

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The Great Flat Lode

 

Great Flat Lode Trail

(for more photos from this trip:  http://theadventuresofmenu.shutterfly.com/ )

On a recent holiday to Cornwall in England we decided to geocache around the Great Flat Lode.  I had grown up in the area, but had never explored the mines as a child – this was my chance.

There is a geocache trail around the Great Flat Lode and was a great chance to not only walk along the trail and find geocaches but to learn more about mining in Cornwall.  I had learned about mining in school but Flat Stanley gave me another chance to learn what I had forgotten!

And yes, we did find all of the geocaches – thanks to some very appreciated help from the cache owner.  The cache trail was a multi/puzzle cache with part of the information for the next cache in the previouse one – so we had to make sure we found them in the right order.  This was a problem at one cache site because the box, and therefore the clue, was missing!  We emailed the owner and he quickly re-placed it so that we could complete the trail in our 2 weeks’ holiday.

Please come with us on our trail of discovery…

The Great Flat Lode is an enormous ore bearing body tilted at an angle of about 10 degrees to the horizontal 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.

The mines of the Great Flat Lode helped to provide employment to Men (miners), women and children (Ore dressers) at a time when the rest of the Cornish Mining industry was in decline. As the copper ores became exhausted in about 1870, the mine owners explored deeper finding fine high quality tin concentrations underlying the copper. This gave the mines of the Great Flat Lode a new lease of life. After some of the companies amalgamated in the late 1890’s the mines continued producing until about 1918.

South Tincroft Mine – Carn Brea and Tincroft Mines now form part of the enlarged sett of South Crofty. They were separate concerns at one stage lying just to the north and northwest of the granite hill of Carn Brea overlooking the Camborne-Redruth area. Carn Brea sett was one of the largest setts in this part of Cornwall. The mine was situated on the lower slopes of the hill and was bounded to the east by Carn Brea Village and the sett of Wheal Union and Wheal Uny, Redruth. To the north lay the main Great Western Railway line from Penzance to Paddington and the setts of East Pool, Wheal Agar and Tehidy. To the west lay the hamlets of Tregajorran and Penhellick and the Tincroft, Illogan Mines and Crofty setts. Over the hill to the south the area was leased to the North Frances and South Carn Brea setts.

Tincroft was first mentioned in historical texts in the 1680s as ‘Penhellick Vean & Tyn Croft’. In1832 Wheal Druid was amalgamated with Wheal Fanny, Tregajorran Mine and Barncoose Mine to become Carn Brea Mines. During the 1840-50’s production from the highly mineralised area running southeast from Camborne to Bissoe was at its peak. Cornwall produced almost 80% of the UK’s copper and about a quarter of world production! 1859‘man engine’ was installed on Dunkin’s shaft, connected to a 26-inch rotative beam engine at South Tincroft Mine – Grid reference SW669406. 1850-1870 As copper production fell tin production increased with advances in mining technology allowing the tin to be worked at greater depths. 1891 The compressor house was constructed at South Tincroft housing a horizontal steam-driven compressor made by Harvey’s of Hayle which powered the rock drills underground. 1896 Tincroft and Carn Brea Mines amalgamated – records show that in this year the mine employed 466 workers undergound and 607 on the surface – quite a shock when you see the area today. 1921 South Tincroft mine closed. In their lifetime Carn Brea and Tincroft mines produced 470,000 tons of copper and 53,000 tons of tin.  http://www.cornwallinfocus.co.uk/history/tncrofty.php

Great Flat Lode
South Tincroft Mine
South Tincroft Mine
South Tincroft Mine
Great Flat Lode

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

South Tincroft Mine

South Tincroft Mine

 

South Wheal Frances – Grid reference SW678393 – lies roughly in the middle of the Great Flat Lode with its area bounded to the northeast by the sett of Wheal Basset and to the southwest by Grenville United sett. Lady Frances Bassett, the mineral Lord, offered a lease on the land in 1834 and although there had been workings in this area since the early 1720’s, this new lease offered a chance to make a viable business.  South Wheal Frances today is a group of buildings centered on Marriott’s shaft. Remaining buildings include the Boiler House, Compressor House, the Miner’s Dry, Smithy and winder house as well as the bases of the ore bins.  http://www.cornwallinfocus.co.uk/history/swfrances.php

South Wheal Frances
South Wheal Frances
South Wheal Frances
South Wheal Frances
Stalactites at South Wheal Frances
South Wheal Frances

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grenville United Mines  – Grid Ref. SW663386 – The mines of Wheal Grenville lie to the southeast of Camborne on the western extremity of the Great Flat Lode. On 29th December 1845 a lease was granted by the ‘mineral lord’ Baroness Grenville to work the area southwest of the existing Condurrow Sett. The new ‘Wheal Grenville Company’, run initially by Captain Lyle and Captain Thomas, took over the workings of previous ventures such as Polgine (1790-1835) and Newton Moor mines and worked for about six years before being purchased by ‘John Taylor and Sons’ – a company run by the local tramway entrepreneur. Further east, the mines of the South Wheal Frances sett were producing a great deal of copper ore and this helped to promote the general area to potential investors. Wheal Grenville did not however live up to its initial expectations and the new company was sold once more in 1855. The mine was bought for £2040 and the new company set about dewatering the mine and deepening the shafts. The eastern section of the land was hived off in 1859 to become East Wheal Grenville sett. The first real production taking place in 1860 with just under 250 tons of copper ore raised with about 80 tons of tinstone. A new shaft was sunk at North Shaft in 1864but production was sluggish. Employment at Wheal Grenville at this time was about 240 people, with about a third of these being females and boys working on the surface. Other shafts were deepened especially at New Shaft and at Boundary Shaft where the sett bordered East Grenville.  http://www.cornwallinfocus.co.uk/history/grenville.php

Wheal Grenville
Wheal Grenville
Wheal Grenville
King Edward Mine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

King Edward Mine is at the eastern part of the South Condurrow Mine which was abandoned about 1890. It was re-opened in 1897, and developed as a fully operational/training mine.  King Edward (as it was re-named in 1901) was completely re-equipped, both on surface and underground, with modern machinery reflecting what was then considered the best Cornish practice.  It was intended that the tin produced would cover most of the teaching costs.

The mine regularly produced tin up until World War 1 when operations were suspended.  By 1920 it was back in production.  This was short-lived for in 1921 the adjacent deeper Grenville Mine stopped working.  As the two mines were interconnected, the consequent flooding of Grenville also flooded the King Edward workings.  Underground operations, on a much reduced scale, were transferred to a dry shallow section the Great Condurrow Mine to the north.  The surface area of the mine was retained and used for teaching mining, ore dressing and surveying.  The remainder of the lecturing continued to be carried out at the main campus in Camborne.

In 1974 the pilot plant and most of the lecturing in mining, ore dressing, management, and surveying moved to the main School of Mines Building. The mill complex was no longer needed and it became a store.

In 1987 a volunteer group was formed with the objective to conserve the site as an educational resource for the future and to operate it in a manner that benefits the local community. Using rescued machinery the mill has been restored to working condition much as it would have been in the early years of the last century.  http://www.kingedwardmine.co.uk/history/

Wheal Uny
Wheal Uny
Wheal Uny
Wheal Uny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘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.

How does an engine house work? http://www.cornish-mining.org.uk/story/enginehouse.htm

The principal function of an engine house was to provide the integral framework of the engine it contained and its basic design was essentially established by Newcomen for his Atmospheric Engine. The distinctive architecture of Cornish beam engine houses links their landscape context – both in the United Kingdom and overseas – with Cornwall and West Devon mining engineering. More beam engines were installed in Cornwall and West Devon than any other mining region of the world: a total of around 3,000 engine houses were built to house them.

The Engine House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information:

http://www.cornwall.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=13419

http://www.citylocal.co.uk/cities/Cornwall/touristinfo/InformationonMineralTramwaysHeritageProjectandscenicsitesonorneartrails/349/

http://www.cornwall-online.co.uk/mineral-tramways/Welcome.html

http://www.kingedwardmine.co.uk/mineral-tramways/

http://www.worldheritagesouthwest.org.uk/#/site/10

http://www.ideasforthekids.co.uk/Attraction.aspx?attid=917b3938-dcc0-4d41-9d93-b163feb92c08

http://www.cornwallinfocus.co.uk/history/mindbase.php

http://www.cornwallinfocus.co.uk/history/gflode.php

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