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Cook’s Kitchen Mine, Cornwall

Cook’s Kitchen

Principal ores: COPPER, TIN & ARSENIC

Camborne: grid reference SW664406

Notable minerals: Bitumen, Chalcocite, Chlorite, Reubescite, Fahlerz, Lithomarge, Lonchidite, Marcasite, Mispickel, Pyrites, Schorl, Steatite & Tennantite.

Cooks Kitchen sett lies between Dolcoath sett to the west and Tincroft sett to the east. The mine is separated from Dolcoath by the Great Crosscourse. The mine is thought to date from about 1740, with some historians such as A. K. Hamilton Jenkin suggesting a figure closer to 1690, we may never know for sure.

Chapple's shaft at Cook's Kitchen Mine

The sett worked Middle Engine, Eudy's, Chappel's, Druid's and Dunkin's Lodes from Middle Engine, Williams, Chappel's, Dunkin's, Roger's, South Sump, East, Flat Rod, New East, Allen's and Druid's Shafts. The mine was a highly profitable concern in its early years and is known to have sold copper ore to the value in excess of £130,000 between 1763 and 1777. It was in a strong enough position to weather the depression caused by the massive discovery at Parys Mountain in Anglesey. In 1796 the mine was referred to as 'One of the most remarkable mines for copper, perhaps in the world' as reported in the 'Hatchett Diary'. A 36-inch pumping engine with an 8-foot stroke was installed over Engine Shaft in 1794 and records show that between 1792-98 the mine sold ore worth £172,246, making a profit of just under £57,750.

In the next century, Cooks Kitchen sold 18,475 tons of copper ore between 1800 and 1807 and received only £5.35 per ton as against the average price in Cornwall of between £8 - £9. This indicate clearly that the ore was of quite low grade - in marked contrast to the high grade ore of its early years. The discovery and production of tin from about 1835 helped to keep the mine afloat during the slump of 1839. In about 1837 the pumping engine on Engine Shaft was replaced with a 50-inch engine, with the mine also acquiring a 15-inch and 16-inch winder. Production continued to fall and the grade of ore did not improve either - the situation was unsustainable. The mine struggled on through the 1840's but finally closed in February 1848.

Cooks Kitchen was closed for about eighteen months before Captain Joseph Vivian was employed to bring the mine back to its former glory. Speculative exploration had seemed to imply that there would indeed be a large deposit of tin, at depth, in the mine. The question was, how deep did it lie? There were tin deposits on either side at Tincroft and Dolcoath so hopes were high. To find the hidden deposit a great deal of time and effort, not to say money, was expended in search of future wealth. A new tin dressing plant was erected, two new waterwheels installed and work started deepening the shafts. All of this development cost a great deal of money and Cooks Kitchen ran at a loss for several years.

Tin was finally raised and sold in 1854, but this alone could not bring the mine back into profit. Development and exploration continued whilst the price of tin rose from around £65 to £70 per ton in 1854-56 to over £82.60/ton in 1857. This good fortune came at just the right time for Cooks Kitchen. Production also grew from 50 tons of black tin in 1854 to over 160 tons by the end of the decade. In 1859 a 'man engine' was installed on Dunkin's shaft. In 1861, Cooks Kitchen declared a small dividend of £1,592 helped by the buoyant tinmarket, but dark clouds were looming. The rapid development of the mine was funded by the returns on tin sales. As the price of tin fell in mid-1862, the profits evaporated and the mine struggled just to break even. The tin price remained depressed, falling as low as £49.845 in 1866 but began to pick up once more as the mine entered the 1870's.

It was decided in 1872 to split Cooks Kitchen sett into two halves. The northern section would be known as New Cook's Kitchen and run as a separate concern. A new lease was granted in 1872 for another 21 years and the mine continued. Another fall in the price of tin in about 1874 (from £78.088/ton in 1873 to £58.625/ton in 1874) coupled with a decrease in production put the survival of Cooks Kitchen in doubt. The next four or five years saw tin production stabilise at around the 210 tons per annum level but the price received continued falling to an all-time low of just £35 per ton in 1878. The mine continued struggling through the next decade with hopes raised and dashed on the vagaries of the tin price. In August 1895 Cook's Kitchen Mine was acquired by Tincroft mine, itself later amalgamated into the larger Carn Brea and Tincroft Mines group. In 1899 South Crofty purchased New Cook's Kitchen sett.

From a high point of over 400 mines producing copper, tin or other metals in Cornwall in the mid nineteenth century there are now NONE. There are a few mining visitor centres and museums dotted around the county for tourists along with a handful of 'mining heritage' walking trails - such as the 'Great Flat Lode' near Carn Brea. In fact former mining areas may now have changed to such an extent that the mines existence may only be recognised and traceable from street names and other indirect means.

The Great Flat Lode is an enormous ore bearing body tilted at an angle of about 45 degrees situated to the south of Carn Brea. Normally lodes are found perpendicular to the ground surface or at best at angles of about 60 degrees. The Great Flat lode got its name as in relative terms it lay a lot flatter in the ground. This, meant that mines could be placed at the optimum locations to extract the tin or copper ore from the ground without digging to excessive depths. The Great Flat Lode Trail encompasses many of the major mines of the Camborne-Redruth area running in a 7.5 mile multi-use circular trail around the granite hill of Carn Brea. Follow the hyperlinks for more information and photographs on the main sections of this excellent trail.

  • South Wheal Frances

  • Basset Mines

  • Grenville United Mines

  • Dolcoath

  • Wheal Uny Mines

  • East Pool & Agar (EPAL)

  • 'World Heritage' status for this area was granted on 14th July 2006. This should help to provide the necessary funding to improve and interlink all the mineral tramway projects. The majority of the trail is off-road and suitable for walkers, horse riders and cyclists. There are even some parts accessible to wheelchair users.

    There is a wealth of information on the mines and miners of Cornwall available. Why not explore Cornwall's industrial heritage through the Bookstore?

    Other nearby mines and their main ores

    South Tincroft (approx. 0.3 km; COPPER, TIN & LEAD)

    Dolcoath (approx. 0.4 km; COPPER, TIN, ARSENIC & MISPICKEL)

    South Crofty (approx. 0.7 km; COPPER, TIN, ARSENIC & WOLFRAM)

    North Crofty (approx. 0.8 km; COPPER & TIN)

    Carn Brea Mines (approx. 1.0 km; COPPER, TIN & LEAD)

    South Roskear (approx. 1.0 km; COPPER, TIN & ARSENIC)

    North Roskear (approx. 1.3 km; COPPER & TIN )

    East Wheal Seton (approx. 1.3 km; COPPER & TIN)

    Great Condurrow (approx. 1.5 km)

    East Pool & Agar (approx. 1.5 km; COPPER, TIN & WOLFRAM)


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