Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,103 pages of information and 233,633 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Wheal Busy

From Graces Guide

Jump to: navigation, search

Wheal Busy lies roughly halfway between Redruth and Truro in Mid-West Cornwall.

It is bounded to the north by the A30 trunk road and to the west by the former Hallenbeagle Mine. To the south lies the B3298 road between Scorrier and Chacewater.

There is thought to have been some sort of mining industry here well back into history. There was mine working, as we would know it, as early as the 16th Century. It was formerly known as Chasewater Mine and was a notable copper producer from the early 1720's and is situated not all that far away from the North Downs area of Redruth - another large copper producer.

Part of the Gwennap-Chacewater mining district - known at the time as "the richest square mile on Earth", the mine produced over 100,000 tons of copper ore and 27,000 tons of arsenic.

Work began on the construction of The Great County Adit running between Bissoe and Scorrier in 1748 to drain the area of water. It was connected to Chasewater Mine and North Downs some thirty years later.

Chasewater Mine had a major problem with water and installed a Boulton and Watt pumping engine in late 1777 to dewater the lower levels. This was the first engine of its type in Cornwall. The engine greatly outperformed the 72-inch Newcomen Atmospheric Engines which had been in situ since 1727. The project was managed by John Smeaton

At this time the copper mines of Cornwall required a source of coal for the pumping engines which was provided by the South Wales coal fields. In return the mines sent their copper back to be smelted via the small harbour at Portreath. The importance of the mines of this and the Gwennap area is illustrated by the fact that they produced over a third of the global production of copper during this period. The arsenic stack from the calciner was finished in about 1810.

The chief shafts of the area are Old Sump Shaft (later renamed Fielding's), Matthews' Shaft, Rickard's Shaft, Engine Shaft, Moyle's Shaft, Poole's Shaft, White Shaft, Wheal Vor Shaft, Wheal Hodge Engine Shaft, Wheal Fire Shaft, King's Shaft and Bennetts'.

The current engine house standing over Engine Shaft with it's adjoining boiler house was initially built in 1856 and housed a 85-inch pumping engine built by Harvey's. This engine only worked for about 10 years however, when in 1866 the Great Slump caused part of the mine to close.

The sign over the Blacksmith's Shop dates from the ill-fated attempt to rework the mine in 1873. A new 90-inch engine was purchased from Perran Foundry at the cost of over £4,000. It was only asked to work for part of the year however as the mine closed in July 1873. The final pumping engine installed was an 85-inch engine (built 1852), transferred and modified from a mine in the St. Austell area and installed during 1910 for yet another re-working of the area.

In 1924 the Californian Stamps was built to rework the site for the final time.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • [1] Cornwall in Focus