East Wheal Rose Mine, Cornwall
Perranzabuloe: grid reference SW837554
East Wheal Rose lies threequarters of a mile southeast of St. Newlyn East in Mid Cornwall and was chiefly a lead mine. The mine was bounded to the north by North Wheal Rose, to the northwest by Wheal Acland and to the southwest by Old Shepherds Mine and lies just to the east of the Perran Iron Lode. The mine worked Middleton's Lode and East Lode from a number of shafts: Paddon's, Strong's, Davey's, Bishop's, Parkinson's, Stephens', Gower's, Middleton's, Doctor's, Phillpott's, Purser's, Carbis', Mitchell's Engine, Turner's, Oxnam's, Baynard's, Magor's, Penrose's Engine, Foster's, Robert's, Jubilee and North Shafts.
On Thursday 9th July 1846, a terrible disaster befell East Wheal Rose. A freak thunderstorm with torrential rain occurred at about 1pm in the afternoon. The rain poured down and the lie of the land channelled the water towards Oxnam and Magor Shafts. The water poured down into the mine 'like a sea of water'. Over 200 miners were initially trapped underground by the deluge but as the water rushed in many managed to escape by any means possible. As Thursday wore on there were still 43 people missing. Four miners who had been working at the 50 fathom (600 feet) level were found alive on Friday morning, but 38 others and one at North Wheal Rose were not so lucky and perished.
A contemporary report is recorded in 'The Annual Register of World Events' by Edmund Burke in 1847. He writes:'... Fearful Catastrophe:— Thirty-nine Persons Drowned.
During the storms caused by the overcharged atmosphere, the following fearful catastrophe occurred at the East Wheal Rose Silver and Lead Mine, about eight miles north of Truro, in consequence of a violent thunderstorm bursting over the mine and the immediate vicinity, the rain falling in torrents. The workings of the mine run north and south through the middle of a natural amphitheatre, with only one outlet, a narrow ravine at the north. The rain, which appeared to fall in almost solid massée, poured in on the basin in which the mine is situate from all the hills around, and the outlet was insufficient for the rapidly accumulated waters; the storm altogether lasted but little more than an hour, and was so partial as scarcely to extend beyond the limits of the hills which encircle the site of the mine; yet so great was the accumulation of water, that a complete torrent poured down the shaft of the mine, flooding the works. At the time, 200 miners, men and lads, were below. The rush of air caused by the entry of the water, and its breaking down large portions of the mine, put out the lights; but the people in the higher levels groped their way to the bottom of the shaft, where every exertion was made to draw them up. In the evening there were still forty-three missing; four came up early next morning; the remaining thirty-nine were drowned, or buried under the earth which fell on the flood's washing away the supports of the galleries. The mine was 100 fathoms deep, and it was flooded to above the 50-fathom level'.
The current engine house over North Shaft was constructed in the winter of 1881 and housed one of the largest pumping engines ever used in Cornwall. A 100-inch beam engine, known as the 'Great Hundred' was purchased to prevent the mine flooding. Initially built in 1854 and installed over Crease's Shaft at Wheal Vor near Helston, the pumping engine was installed at East Wheal Rose and after a few minor mishaps due to the power of the engine, it ran well dewatering the mine successfully.
Production reports state that East Wheal Rose produced 50,970 tons of 62% lead ore between 1845 and 1886; 265,971 ounces of silver between 1852 and 1872; 160 tons of 12.5% copper ore between 1850 and 1851; 61 tons of copper ore in 1852 and 1854. Between 1855 and 1883 it also raised 280 tons of zinc ore, ranging from 30% to 45% grade.
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Other nearby mines and their main ores
Cargoll (approx. 1.7 km; LEAD, SILVER, COPPER & ZINC)
Duchy Peru (approx. 4.2 km; HAEMATITE, IRON ORE, OCHRE, UMBER, LEAD, ZINC, COPPER & SILVER-COPPER)
Great Retallack (approx. 4.3 km; IRON, LEAD, ZINC & SILVER)
Treamble (approx. 5.0 km; HAEMATITE, IRON ORE, OCHRE, UMBER, LEAD, ZINC, COPPER & SILVER-COPPER)
Wheal Chiverton (approx. 6.2 km; LEAD & SILVER)
Budnick Consols (approx. 6.6 km; LEAD, ZINC & TIN)
West Wheal Chiverton (approx. 6.8 km; LEAD & SILVER)
New Wheal Chiverton (approx. 7.2 km; LEAD, SILVER, ZINC, ARSENIC & PYRITE)
Perran Consols (Wheal Vlow) (approx. 7.4 km; LEAD, SILVER & TIN)
Great South Chiverton (approx. 8.0 km; LEAD, ZINC & ARSENIC)