Fowey Consols Mine, Cornwall
St Austell: grid reference SX083558
Notable minerals: Actinolite, Antimonite, Apatite, Bismuthinite, Blende, Calamine, Chalcocite, Chalcopyrite, Chalcotrichite, Chalybite, Cobaltite, Copper, Cuprite, Francolite, Magnetite, Marcasite, Melaconite, Melanterite, Millerite, Niccolite, Pyrites, Silver, Stannite & Wood Tin.
Fowey Consols is located one mile northeast of St. Blazey in Tywardreath parish. It lies roughly in the middle of a large crecent shaped area of mines bounded by Luxulyan in the northwest, and St. Blazey and St. Austell in the southwest. Notable mines of this area include Crinnis, East Crinnis, Pembroke and Par Consols. To the northeast lay Polharmon and ultimately Lostwithiel, whilst to the south lay Tywardreath and Fowey. It is one of the main mines within the Par Section of the St. Austell Mining District.
Fowey Consols is, as its name implies, a consolidation of several mines. In an area bounded by Penpillick, Carruggatt and Treesmill, five separate mines were amlgamated between 1822 and 1836. This amalgamation of the mines was largely due to the efforts of one Joseph Thomas Austen. In 1813 Joseph Austen inherited the estates of the Treffry family and set in motion a process of buying up controlling interests in the small mines of the area. He began to develop the assets, particularly the mineral wealth, understanding that the Luxulyan Valley was a convenient route between the high ground where he owned land and mineral setts and the coast. He leased the land from the Kendall family and built a leat, completed in 1820, on the eastern flank of the valley to provide water power to the mines. He built a new artificial harbour at Par, opened in 1829, a canal up the valley to Ponts Mill and two inclined plane railways to the mines. Firstly, Wheal Treasure, Wheal Fortune and Wheal Chance were consolidated in 1822 to form Fowey Consolidated Mine. In 1830 Wheal Hope was added, followed by Lanescot Mine in 1836. His entrepreneurial and business skills eventually making him an important character in Cornish mining circles. As his importance grew, Austen changed his name by deed poll to Treffry in 1838.
It is reported that Fowey Consols worked on '... more than 20 lodes' with at least 6 engine shafts. The major lodes being Bice's Lode, Black Lode, Trathan's Lode, Reed's Lode, Williams' Lode, Ann's Lode, Cook's Lode, Notwell's Lode, Sampson's Lode, Crosspark Lode and Bone's Lode. The lodes were worked from at least 25 shafts within the enlarged sett. These were (from North to South): Kendall's North, Carruggatt, John's, Austen's, Anthony's, West's, Tregaske's, Kendall's, Union, Trathan's (Wheal Chance), Pidler's Man Engine (Wheal Fortune), Bottrall's, Henrietta's, Blues (Wheal Fortune), Polsue's, Mundic, Ray's, Thomson's, Samson's, Hodge's, Seymour,s, Sawle's (Lanescot Mine), Coates', Powne's, Remfry's and Tremayne's Shafts.
Details of mine equipment and engines is also quite well documented. The main shaft was Austen's Man Engine Shaft with a 80-inch pumping engine installed over it in 1834. It remained at work until 1867. Other engines included a 80-inch pumping engine on Henrietta's Shaft (1840 to 1843), later moved to Treffry's North Shaft at Par Consols, with the engine house renovated as recently as 1996; a 40-inch pumping engine on Union Shaft (1826 to 1834); a 24-inch pumping Engine on Sawle's Shaft (1832-38). On Powne's Shaft an 18-inch winding engine installed in 1832 was replaced with a 22-inch double acting engine in 1838. It remained at work until 1867. On Trathan's Shaft a 20-inch double acting engine was installed in 1832 and remained thre until 1860 when it was moved to Kendall's north Shaft. An 18-inch double acting engine was at work on Ray's Shaft between 1832 and 1867, as well as a 22-inch double acting winding and ore hoisting engine on Davis' Shaft. A 22-inch whim worked over Bottrall's Shaft between 1837 and 1867 and a 24-inch whim worked Hodge's Shaft between 1843 and 1855.
Reports on mines and their workings were not required to be kept until the mid-nineteenth century so any records of production prior to 1850 are at best sketchy and profits made largely estimates. From 1820 to 1867 however, it is known that the Fowey Consols produced over 383,000 tons of copper ore at an average grade of 7.8%. Research shows that over 1,700 people were employed at the mine in 1844 and, although this dropped to below the thousand figure in 1846, Fowey Consols was still a very important employer in the area.
There are two excellent reports on the state of Fowey Consols. One recorded by Joseph Yelloly Watson in his 1843 book entitled 'A Compendium of British Mining' states '... Is the parish of Tywardreath. In 1813, these mines, then called Wheal Treasure, Wheal Fortune, and Wheal Chance, commenced working; and stopped in 1819. The amount expended on them, during that time having been £49,563 16s 11d. In 1822, they were purchased by J. T. Treffry, Esq., of Fowey, and consolidated under the above title. In 1836, Lanescot, an adjoining mine, was united with the Fowey Consols, this mine having divided £45,000 between 1822 and 1832.
From August 1815, to the end of 1841, the Fowey Consols Mines returned 234,486 tons, 8 cwt., 2 qrs. of copper; fetching £1,422,633 17s. 1d., out of which the profit paid to the adventurers, with a reserve fund not divided, amounted to £179,995 11s. 6d. The value of the stock on the mines, engines, materials, etc., is £60,000. There are six steam engines at work, of altogether 302 horse power; seventeen water wheels, of 484 horse power; and three hydraulic engines of 119 horse power. There are five pumps, or engine shafts in course of sinking, the deepest being about 200 fathoms below the adit of 45 fathoms. There are 20 lodes now in course of working, the principal of which run through the sett for nearly two miles. 1,792 persons are employed upon the mines; and the system of working is principally for discovery; large quantities of ground being constantly opened, and large piles of ore left as a reserve, while operations are carried on in search of more.'
Thomas Spargo, some years later in 1865 give us a lengthier report, stating that Fowey Consols '... in Tywardreath, Cornwall, 4,940 shares. Purser, Major Davies, R.M., Fowey. Manager, Captain Francis Puckey, St. Blazey. Lords, Richard Kendall, Esq., John Tremayne, Esq., and Mr. Pedlar's representatives. Dues, 1-24th. Depth of adit, 40 fathoms; depth below, 300 fathoms. 250 men, 50 females, and 50 boys employed. Rock, clay-slate. Steam pumping-engine, 80-inch. All the other mechanical work is performed by waterwheels, driven by a large stream brought into the sett by the late Mr. Treffry. There is a man-engine worked by water.
Minerals Sold in 1864: Copper ore worth £18,806 9s 1d, Tin £28 18s 6d, and Mundic £157 0s 3d making a total of £18,992 7s 10d.
The first work towards the development of these mines dates back to 1813. The Company have been fortunate; the profits having been about £180,000. At present there is a small loss; but in a mine of such an extent, and with so many points of operation, a good bunch might be cut any day. It is, however, generally believed that the Company will not continue to work at a loss, and that the end of the operations is not far distant. During 20 years these mines must have realised £9,000; if we take the capital as £36,000, the interest upon it would have been 25 per cent., and the sales averaged £70,000 per annum.
The late Mr. Treffry purchased the mines in 1822. In 1836, Lanescot, an adjoining mine, was united to the other three, and the whole consolidated into Fowey Consols. The undertaking began to prosper greatly ; from August 1815 to the end of 1841, these mines returned 234,486 tons 8 cwt. 2 qrs. of copper ore, which sold for £1,422,683, out of which the profit paid to the adventurers (with a reserve fund not divided), amounted to £179,995 11s. 6d.
Although these very extensive mines have produced no profits to the proprietors for the last four years, the system of working them evinces great abilities in the agency. The modesty in the report offered by the management on the llth October, is only equalled by the strong reasoning power pervading it, and although at the time of writing it almost all the workings were so poor as to show the value of the lodes to have been only from £3 to £6 per fathom, except in one instance where a side lode was producing £12 per fathom; yet, by backing the agent's judgment in attacking the side lodes, and working upon the liberality of the lords, who ought without scruple or delay to abate the dues, with the very moderate calls the agents propose, we hold with the agents that this may yet be considered a good and safe speculation; but, whether this be so or not, it must be a matter of satisfaction to the Company to find the conduct of their affairs placed in such hands, that it may be safely predicted that all which wisdom and prudence can do for a mine will be done for this one.'
Records of production are:
Fowey Consols (1822-1867) - 319,700 tons of 7.8& copper ore, as well as 46 tons of blende, 2,287 tons of pyrite and 8 tons of nickel between 1859 and 1869 with a further 28 tons of black tin sold in 1882.
Lanescot Mine (1821-1836) - 63,123 tons of 8% copper ore.
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Other nearby mines and their main ores
Par & St Blazey Consols (approx. 1.6 km; TIN)
Par Consols (approx. 3.8 km; COPPER & TIN)
East Crinnis (approx. 3.9 km; COPPER, TIN & ZINC)
Pembroke Mine (approx. 4.0 km; COPPER & TIN )
Great Crinnis (approx. 4.3 km; COPPER, LEAD, IRON & SILVER)
Treverbyn, Knightor, Ruby & Trethurgy (approx. 5.1 km; IRON)
Restormel Royal (approx. 5.5 km; IRON ORE)
Maudlin (approx. 6.4 km; COPPER & TIN)
Rocks and Treverbyn United (approx. 6.6 km; TIN)
Polmear (approx. 6.7 km; COPPER & PYRITES)