Arsenic stack in the distance.

Situated on Porkellis Moor lie some of the more modern remains of Basset and Grylls mine. Originally named Porkellis United, it also included the workings of Wheal Cock. Basset and Gryll’s potential was first noticed in 1845 by a Mr Jenkin and co, but as they didn’t own the mineral rights they were soon ousted. 

Base of vibrating tables, built as part of the 20th century workings.

The area had already been heavily worked by ‘old men’ and the ground was notoriously soft, requiring clever timbering. Some of the more shallow levels had patches of tin left over from previous workings, but miners were forbidden from trying to extract. Of course over time these warnings were ignored and eventually the roof of the levels became too weak to hold up a slime pit just above. In August 1858 the ground gave way leaving a 54x36m hole, 9m deep. Six men and one boy died, with several of the surface workers only narrowly escaping. 

Following the incident, the pumping engine was moved to where it stands today further up the road towards Porkellis, with attentions turned towards the lodes in that area. This was primarily the Tymorgie lodes, which unfortunately weren’t as profitable as originally thought. In 1859, all of the engines were put up for sale. 

Two buddles. 

By 1864 the mine appeared to have the same engines working on the site: a  60-inch pumping engine, a 24-inch whim and a 32-inch double acting pump and stamps driving 80 heads, as well as a waterwheel driving 20 more. Since the main pumping engine was now in a different area of the sett, the stamps engine was equipped with flat rods. 

Concrete remains of the ore crusher. 

In 1872 a new 60-inch pumping engine was ordered from Harvey & Co, with the Porkellis Moor section of the mine being abandoned at the same time. Focus was turned to the Wheal Cock and Old Men’s section of the sett, with the moor area only used for dressing. 
At some point the mine was abandoned again. 

Arsenic stack again with the remains of the A frames to its left. These would have held an elevated tramway to carry ore. 

In 1907, the mine was reopened under the name Basset and Grylls and was worked by various different companies up until 1926. Between 1826-29 it was named Jantar before being renamed Porkellis Tin Mines in 1933. The mine was again abandoned for good just before the Second World War. 

Between 1852-80 the mine raised 4, 323 tons of tin. From 1907 to 1914 another 327 tons of tin was raised. 

During its life the mine worked a great number of shafts, including: Tyack’s (80fathoms/146m), Old Men’s (90-fathoms/164m), Collin’s, Eathorne (25-fathoms/45m), Wheal Cock’s (45-fathoms/82m), Gundry’s (60-fathoms/109m), Wilkin’s (22-fathoms/40m), Griggs (40-fathoms/73m), Eastern (61-fathoms/111m), Drigger’s (85-fathoms/155m), Dumping (25-fathoms/45m), Gluya (20-fathoms/36m), Water Wheel (15-fathoms/27m), Pisk’s (15-fathoms/27m), Flat rod (?15-fathoms/27m), Spagoe’s and Crowan Bridge. 

Tyack’s pumping engine. 

The lodes of Basset and Grylls (including Porkellis United and Wheal Cock): Cock, Old Men’s, Tymorgie (North and South), Wilkin, Cope’s, Bennet’s and Garlidna. 

Another view of the 60-inch pumping engine

The Porkellis Moor section of the mine is free to roam, with the modern remains of the crusher and buddles easy to access. The arsenic stack and the A frames are all on private land, as is the Wheal Cock section. Tyack’s engine house is supposed to be free to access, but on my visit was very overgrown and required strategic stingy nettle bashing to get to. 

The remains at Wheal Cock’s shaft.


(Dines, 1956; Hamilton-Jenkin, 1978; Brown and Acton, 2007; Nance and Brown,2014)

Brown, K. and Acton, B. (2007) Exploring CornishMines: Volume Two. 2nd edn. Truro: Landfall Publications.

Dines, H. G. (1956) The metalliferous mining regions of south-west England. British Geological Survey.

Hamilton-Jenkin, A. K. (1978) Wendron Tin. Falmouth: Century Litho.

Nance, D. and Brown, K. (2014) A complete guide to the engine houses of West Cornwall. Gloucestershire: Lightmoor Press.

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