Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Devon Great Consols Mine

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Devon Great Consols Mine is in the township, parish, union, and hundred of Tavistock, Devon, within the bounds of the manor or lordship of the Duke of Bedford, and mining district of Tavistock; it is situated 4 miles from the town of Tavistock.

Includes the mines of Wheal Maria, Wheal Fanny, Wheal Anna Maria, Wheal Josiah and Wheal Emma.

Devon Great Consols was formed in 1844 and was then known as North Bedford Mines or Wheal Maria. It became the richest copper mine in Europe and later as the world's largest producer of arsenic.

1858 Devon Consols was the only mine in Devon and Cornwall to build and work its own standard gauge railway. It maintained and partly constructed many of the steam engines and water-wheels used for pumping and crushing operations.

The mine closed in 1903 and lay idle for about 12 years until in about 1915 underground mining was resumed at Wheal Fanny for arsenic and at Wheal Frementor for tin and tungsten.

In spite of the decline in mining during the post WWI slump in 1921, arsenic production continued at Wheal Maria, Wheal Frementor, Wheal Fanny (surface only) and Wheal Anna Maria.

1866 Details of precipitating and dressing machinery

Work appears to have ceased in about 1925, although mining at Frementor continued until 1930.

Morwellham Quay was the principal port for the export of copper to thye smelters in Swansea.

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