Ancient Monuments

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Part of a mining complex at South Polgooth Mine

A Scheduled Monument in St. Mewan, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.3146 / 50°18'52"N

Longitude: -4.8249 / 4°49'29"W

OS Eastings: 198975.671767

OS Northings: 49884.871553

OS Grid: SW989498

Mapcode National: GBR ZW.17Y1

Mapcode Global: FRA 08S6.G3V

Entry Name: Part of a mining complex at South Polgooth Mine

Scheduled Date: 17 October 1978

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007288

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 1062

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Mewan

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Mewan

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes part of the mining complex at South Polgooth Mine, situated on the south western part of Treloweth Common. The complex survives as a series of buildings and surface remains including a beam engine house; a Brunton calciner and reverberatory calciner for arsenic with condenser and flues; a chimney stack; dressing floors and waste; and a stamping building. The beam engine house is a tall rectangular building standing to almost full height. Built from granite, it is roofless with brick arches to windows and doors and the bob wall to the north. Attached is a circular stone-built chimney with brick upper sections which unusually served both the engine house and the arsenic calciners. The arsenic calciners are to the south and, adjoined by the flues and condenser, they are largely granite and brick built. Several arches are visible and the main oven has metal door hooks, although the structures have been subject to some collapse. To the north of the complex are the partially-upstanding remains of the building which held the stamping machinery.

The principal lode of the South Polgooth Mine was mentioned as a tin work in 1593. Prior to 1826 the mine was worked under the name of Wheal Davy. It re-opened under the name of South Polgooth Mine between 1835 and 1839. It re-opened again in 1880 and trials were still being conducted in 1916. After 1885 it was working on three separate lodes which produced minerals including tin, arsenic, copper and wolfram. Most of the surviving structures date to the period from 1880.

The engine house is Listed Grade II (71429).

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:-429694

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Cornwall and West Devon, has been one of the major areas of non-ferrous metal mining in England. It is defined here as prospecting, extraction, ore processing and primary smelting/refining, and its more important and prolific products include copper, tin and arsenic, along with a range of other materials which occur in the same ore bodies. The 18th century saw technological advances turning to the mining operations. During this period, Cornish-mined copper dominated the market, although it was by then sent out of the region for smelting. The development of steam power for pumping, winding and ore processing in the earlier 19th century saw a rapid increase in scale and depth of mine shafts. As the shallower copper-bearing ores became exhausted, so the mid to late 19th century saw the flourish of tin mining operations, resulting in the characteristic West Cornish mining complex of engine houses and associated structures which is so clearly identifiable around the world. Ore processing increased in scale, resulting in extensive dressing floors and mills by late in the 19th century. Technological innovation is especially characteristic of both mining and processing towards the end of the century. Arsenic extraction also evolved rapidly during the 19th century, adding a further range of distinctive processing and refining components at some mines; the South West became the world's main producer in the late 19th century. From the 1860s, the South West mining industries began to decline due to competition with cheaper sources of copper and tin ore from overseas, leading to a major economic collapse and widespread mine closures in the 1880s, although limited ore-extraction and spoil reprocessing continued into the 20th century. The range of structures associated with the part of the mining complex at South Polgooth Mine survive comparatively well and bear witness to this important social, economic and politically important industry.

Source: Historic England

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