Tincroft mine is another one of those seriously old and successful mines with long and diverse histories where there are very few surface remains left.
First worked at the dawn of time, work began in earnest at Tincroft mine from 1783 with a new lease was granted for the area. Not much happened until 1790 and by 1793 it was 50-fathoms deep and had a 45-inch pumping engine. Over its lifetime, the mine had a vast number of engine houses and I’ll try and make a comprehensive list somewhere below.
During these early years, the success of the mine fluctuated but by 1797 was making good profits, £21,000 (£1,611,983.10 nowadays). Around this time the lease for the land was coming to an end and the mine was faced with a law suit for infringing a Boulton & Watt patent.
In 1804 a new lease was signed but the rich ground worked in the previous years was rapidly disappearing and the machinery on the mine was getting worn out. The older parts of the mine were abandoned in 1806, with work concentrating on Martin’s and Chapple’s lodes; the mine had continuous water issues during this period, heavy rains outmatching the tired old pumping engines.
In 1819, the beam on the pumping engine at Wheal Fanny, an immediate neighbour, broke leading to increased water levels in the Tincroft workings until it was fixed. Prices for copper continued to slump and in 1826 Tincroft closed, selling off all its machinery. Work started again in 1833, and by the 1840’s Tincroft was making money again; copper prices were good and production much better. In 1862, Tincroft was connected underground with Cooks Kitchen and an agreement was made that Tincroft miners could drive the 180 and 200-fathoms levels. It was however discovered that Cooks Kitchen miners had already been mining on Tincroft land on other levels resulting in £1,800 in compensation.
In 1866 tin prices crashed, ruining mines all around the county. Tincroft however had become a very proficient tin producer so still managed to make its dividends. 1868 saw in the introduction of rock drills (F. B. Doering ones) into the mine for trials, although they were not kept on despite saving time and money. Other drills were introduced at a later date.
Tincroft continued to be a successful tin mine in the 1870’s, selling 829 tons for £74,206 (£4,645,963.45) in 1872. By this time copper production had fallen by the way side, selling only £473 of in the same year. However, while its tin production was up, this did not reflect in the mines financial situation. In 1877 the mine owed £15,593 (£976,262.14) just as tin prices dropping yet again. Things didn’t improve as stoppages and ground falls reduced production. The debt was paid off in 1881 and the mine continued to produce enough to muddle by. In 1885 Tincroft and South Wheal Croft connected underground.
Tin prices collapsed again in 1893, but Tincroft was able to continue on. It began to contribute to the pumping charges of its neighbouring mines, namely Wheal Agar and East Pool; if these mines were to close it would have a disastrous effect on the water levels of Tincroft and South Crofty. In August 1895, Cook’s Kitchen was merged with Tincroft as it was threatening to close and stop pumping.
In 1896, Carn Brea mine and Tincroft amalgamated to form Carn Brea & Tincroft Mines. The mine ceased any underground work in 1921, although in 1926 its stamps engine was used briefly to treat burrows before being scrapped.
Over its long and illustrious life Tincroft had A LOT of engines and other bits. Hopefully this will be a fairly comprehensive list…
1793 – 45-inch pumping engine
1791 – 21/27-inch Hornblower and Winwood compound engine
1794 – 45/53-inch compound engine
1814 – 48-inch pumping engine
?1819 – 16-inch stamps and steam whim
1820 – 66-inch pumping engine
1825 – 18-inch whim on Martin’s shaft
1830’s – 56-inch pumping engine, 36-inch stamps with 48 heads
1832 – 24-inch whim on Old Sump
1835 – 20-inch whim on North shaft
1836 – calciner
1839 – steam winder
1840 – pumping engine on Martin’s East, ran flatrods to Palmer’s and Old Tincroft
1857 – 30 slime frames
1863 – 26-inch man engine and whim
1865 – 56-inch pumping engine and ?36-inch pumping engine
1873 – Blake rockbreaker
1874 – stamps engine, pumping engine installed at North Tincroft
1890 – 70-inch pumping engine on Old Sump, second hand Harvey’s
1891 – compressor house
I’ve taken these shaft names and depths from Dines who has written about Tincroft and Carn Brea as one and doesn’t clearly distinguish which ones belonged to which, so here they all are:
Barncoose Engine (148-fathoms/270m), Martin’s East (350-fathoms/640m), Boundary/Palmer, Old Sump (Harveys Engine, 320-fathoms/585m), Highburrow West (325-fathoms/594m), Highburrow East (390-fathoms/713m), North Tincroft, Willoughby’s (170-fathoms/310m), Downright (335-fathoms/612m), Blight’s (100-fathoms/182m), Harvey’s Engine (335-fathoms/612m), Tyrie’s (208-fathoms/380m), Old Tincroft (140-fathoms/256m), South (100-fathoms/182m), Miner’s (136-fathoms/248m), Davey’s (60-fathoms/109m), Roger’s, Fanny, Man Engine (320-fathoms/585m), Sincock (100-fathoms/182m), Polkinghorne (80-fathoms/146m), Teague’s Engine (250-fathoms/457m), Barker’s and Sykes.
Lodes worked include: Tincroft/Old Tincroft, Barncoose, Highburrow, Martin’s, Dunkin’s, Chapple’s, Teague’s, South, Pryce’s, South Branch, Grout’s, East Pool, Stainsbury’s and Druid’s.
What remains of Tincroft is on the mineral tramways trail and is open to public access. It is right next to a busy road though and there is no official parking nearby. The man engine is the only remaining one in existence in Cornwall and has been consolidated.
Brown, K. and Acton, B. (2007) Exploring Cornish Mines: Volume Two. 2nd edn. Truro: Landfall Publications.
Cornwall Archaeological Unit (1991) Engine House Assessment: Mineral Tramways Project. Available at: http://map.cornwall.gov.uk/reports_event_record/1991/1991R008.pdf (Accessed: 17 March 2018).
Dines, H. G. (1956) The metalliferous mining regions of south-west England. British Geological Survey.
Morrison, T. (1980) Cornwall’s central mines : the northern district, 1810-1895. Penzance: A. Hodge.
The National Archives (no date) ‘The National Archives – Currency converter: 1270–2017’. The National Archives. Available at: https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/currency-converter/#currency-result (Accessed: 13 March 2018).