Consolidated Mines (Consols) Mine, Cornwall
Gwennap: grid reference SW754421
Consolidated Mines known more commonly as Consols is the name for a group of amalgamated mines situated on the southern side of the Carnon Valley just to the west of Bissoe. There have been mines in this area for at least the past 400 years, Where the first workings would have been. Stream workings working on the alluvial tin deposits of the Carnon Valley and it is known that the Carnon River was navigable up as far as Bissoe in the early 1600's. The northern section of the Carnon Valley is more correctly known as the Poldice Valley. Poldice along with North Downs, Wheal Busy and the Unity Wood Mines were the great copper producers. The invention of the Newcomen engine in the early 1700's led to a period of great expansion in the copper mines, records show that there was a mine at Cusveth (Cusvey) in 1734. By the end of the 18th Century, there were at least 9 mines working here, they included, East Wheal Virgin, West Wheal Virgin, Wheal Girl, Wheal Maid, Wheal Fortune, Wheal Cusvey, Wheal Lovelace, Wheal Deebles and Wheal Wentworth. In about 1780 they amalgamated to form Great Consolidated Mines.
As early as 1787, a visitor commented on piles of ore and cinders streching as far as the eye could see. The neighbouring mines to the west around Carharrack also joined together to form United Mines at this time.
A short tour of the Consolidated Mines Area
Park your vehicle carefully in Twelveheads. We decided to leave our car beside the Methodist Church and follow the walk in Exploring Cornish Mines Volume 1 by Kenneth Brown and Bob Acton. Walk over the bridge and head towards the sign indicating the start of the Poldice Valley. Take the track to the left of the sign as it leads up towards Cusvey Mine - standing overgrown and clad in ivy. A few hundred metres up the track turn right along a narrow leafy track. The path soon joins a wide track running parallel with the tramway some 50 or so feet below. We passed several mineshafts with their triangular metal meshes known as Clwyd Caps including Bawden's Shaft.
Pass Woolf's Shaft, built in 1826 and one of the deepest shafts of the area at over 300 fathoms deep. Its engine house formerly housed a 90-inch cylinder pumping engine originally at Wheal Alfred in Gwinear. Shortly our suspicions that our track was formerly a branch of the tramway were confirmed when we saw a row of granite sleepers known as setts partially buried in the track ahead.
Pause a while to survey the area inspecting the numerous capped mineshafts with care. Continue up the rocky path as it makes its way west. Shortly a large shaft topped with the now familar Clwyd cap is spotted to your right. This is Michell's shaft part of the Wheal Fortune section of the Consols mine. Incidentally, Consols was amalgamated with United Mines in 1857 to form a new mining enterprise to be known as 'Clifford Amalgamated Mines'.
After a few minutes peering gingerly into the shaft we returned to the track again and proceeded to enter the 'Wheal Maid' section, a short distance further on passing a large sign confirming our location. A myriad of paths now lead off westwards offering the chance to approach the central area of Consolidated Mines with its remaining buildings, a clocktower, a large chimney and two ruinous engine houses.
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Other nearby mines and their main ores
Poldice (approx. 0.3 km; COPPER, TIN, ARSENIC & ZINC)
East Wheal Damsel (approx. 0.4 km; COPPER & TIN)
Ale & Cakes (approx. 0.9 km; COPPER & TIN)
Gwennap United Mines (approx. 0.9 km; COPPER)
Wheal Jewell (approx. 0.9 km; COPPER)
Wheal Unity (approx. 1.2 km; COPPER)
Wheal Squire, United Mines (approx. 1.3 km; COPPER)
Creegbrawse & Penkevil United (approx. 1.4 km; COPPER & TIN)
Wheal Damsel (approx. 1.6 km; COPPER & TIN)
Mount Wellington (approx. 1.7 km; TIN)