Hidden behind the village of Lanner sits one of the richest mines in Cornwall. There are mentions of the mine as far back as the 17th century, with the area definitely being active by 1737 as a copper mine. From this point the mine was constantly evolving, with the installation of several new steam engines and the deepening of the mine. The mine closed in 1858, reopening again in 1860 as Tresavean and Tretharrup, working until another closure in 1872. From 1881 to 86, another venture was started under the name of Tresavean Mining Co, however this proved very unsuccessful; despite the erection of a number of new engines and associated kit at great expense, the mine only pulled up 54 tons of tin and no copper.
The mine opened for a final time between 1908-28 as Tresavean Mines Limited, deepening the mine to 443 fathoms (810m), however still produced very little tin. A number of older buildings were destroyed, along with the dressing floor to make room for a new processing mill; a transformer was also installed in the stamps house. Due to ongoing financial issues and a significant fall in tin prices, in 1921, the majority of the workers were laid off to keep costs down. With only a skeletal staff remaining, the mine still continued to produce small quantities of tin, copper and arsenic. However, in 1928, with tin prices still dropping, the mine’s debt continued to mount and was finally forced to close for the last time; everything that could be stripped and sold was, with Harvey’s engine house and stack being demolished in 1936.
The most prominent remain on the site is that of the 32-inch stamps built in 1882. This was built to run 48 heads of stamps, 36 of which were up and running by the end of the year. During the final reworking the house was modified to house an alternator which powered electric turbine pumps, making Tresavean the first Cornish mine was be dewatered by electric pumps.
The remaining engine house doesn’t even scratch the surface of what has been on the site previously. There may have been as many as 13 engine houses on the site at one time and the chimney from the last reworking reached 150ft, the tallest in Cornwall. The first man engine in Cornwall was also built on the site.
Just up from the stamps house are the seriously overgrown remains of Harvey’s pumping engine built in 1880-81. This housed a 90-inch engine built by Harvey’s in 1873, and on closure of the mine was installed at Fortescue’s, Wheal Grenville, before then heading to Old Cooks Kitchen.
Here’s a list of just some of the engines installed on the sett, someone of these would have replaced older engines over time.
1758 unknown steam engine
1779 30-inch Boulton and Watt
1793 30/60-inch compound engine
1834 60-inch and 63-inch pumping engines, three 20-inch winding engines
1839 80-inch pumping engine, from Pembroke Mine
1840 85-inch pumping engine on Harvey’s shaft from Perran Foundry, replaced 80-inch
1872 80-inch pumping engine
1881 90-inch pumping engine on Harvey’s shaft, replaced 85-inch
1883 24-inch whim engine on Harvey’s, 24-inch whim on Old East
Over its lifetime, Tresavean had a lot of shafts sunk. A LOT. Here are just a few:
Harvey’s 395-fathoms (722m), Old East 330-fathoms (603m), Old/Main Engine 266-fathoms (486m), Trethellan 156-fathoms(285m), West Engine/William’s 176-fathoms (322m), Treweeks 176-fathoms (322m), Treviskey 272-fathoms (497m), Wheal Boyes 27-fathoms (49m), Man Engine 266-fathoms (488m), Bell 45-fathoms 82m), Caddy’s 27-fathoms (49m), Mitchell’s 45-fathoms (82m), Morcom’s 112-fathoms (205m), Devonshire 112-fathoms (205m), North 136-fathoms (249m), James’ 30-fathoms (55m), Moor 40-fathoms (73m), Old William’s 75-fathoms (137m), William’s Engine 40-fathoms (73m), Roger’s/Sampson’s 27-fathoms (49m – although on a 1912 report this is shown as considerably deeper – another Rogers?), Highburrow, Curnack’s, Teague’s and Harrie’s.
There are just the ones I scraped out of Dine’s, there are considerably more unnamed shafts and several shafts were renamed over the life of the site.
The numerous shafts served numerous lodes:
Devonshire, Main, Mitchell’s, Bell, Magor’s, Boye’s, Comfort, Caddy’s, Treviskey, Parkyn, Bellvean, North and Barnetts to name a few.
Output for the mine was second only to Dolcoath, 233,372 tons of copper ore was raised over its life, although records during the 18th century were very poor, so the exact output is unknown.
Most of the remains can be seen on or from public footpaths, the stamps engine sits above a new playing field. Only the remains of Harvey’s engine cannot be access as the shaft and surrounding building have not been made safe (if you could get through the bushes to actually get to it).
Dines, H. G. (1956) The metalliferous mining regions of south-west England. British Geological Survey.
Morrison, T. (1983) Cornwall’s central mines : the southern district, 1810-1895. Penzance. A. Hodge.
Nance, D. and Brown, K. (2014) A complete guide to the engine houses of West Cornwall.Gloucestershire: Lightmoor Press.
Schwartz, S. and Parker, R. H. (2001) Tin Mines and Miners of Lanner. Tiverton: Halsgrove Press.
Tresavean Mine, Lanner, Archaeological Report(1989). Available at: http://map.cornwall.gov.uk/reports_event_record/1989/1989R015.pdf(Accessed: 6 April 2018).