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Great North Downs Mine, Cornwall

Principal ores: COPPER & TIN

Redruth: grid reference SW713443

Notable minerals: Chalcopyrite.

Great North Downs sett lay about a mile northeast of Redruth near the hamlet of Radnor and was bounded to the west by Wheal Peevor, to the north by Wheal Briggan, to the northeast by Wheal Rose and to the northwest by Wheal Plenty. This ancient copper and tin mine was known to have been at work in the early 1700's and worked eight major lodes from a large number of shafts.

Great North Downs Lode, also known as Main Lode, was worked from William's Shaft, Morcom's Shaft, Gundry's Shaft, Jenkin's Shaft, Lemon's Shaft, Butler's Shaft, Wheal Hawke Shaft, Sleggan's Shaft, King's Shaft, Skip Shaft, Ruin Shaft, Footway Shaft, Water Shaft and Vivian's Shaft.
Tenpenny Lode was worked from Penrose North Shaft, Lord's Western Shaft, Lord's Middle Shaft, Lord's Eastern Shaft, Butchers North Shaft and Tenpenny Shaft.
Pendarves South Lode was opened up by Rule's Shaft, Noddie's Shaft, Penrose South Shaft, Thievish Shaft, Whidden Shaft, Butcher's South Shaft, Teague's West Shaft and Teague's East Shaft.
Peevor Lode was cut by Peevor Shaft, Wheal Moore West shaft, Wheal Moore Engine Shaft and Roman's Middle Shaft.
South Wheal Hawke Lode was worked from South Wheal Hawke Shaft, Robert's Shaft, Paull's Shaft and Robin's Shaft. Other lodes included Spelter Lode, Vivian's Lode and Pendarves North Lode.

Mining Historian Joseph Yelloly Watson in his book 'A Compendium of British Mining' (1843), states that the North Downs Mine was '... in Redruth ; a very old mine, and was working from 1718 to 1758, and made upwards of £100,000 profit. It has been resumed of late, and making large returns, having sold in twelve months, ending June 30th, 1842, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-one tons of ore for £12,379 12/-. Arseniate of lead has been found in this mine.'.

Twenty one years later Thomas Spargo gives us a little more information of the state of North Downs in 1864: '... in Redruth, Cornwall, in 6,000 shares. Purser and Manager, Mr. Francis Pryor, Redruth. Agent, Captain John Grenfell, at the mine. 56 men, 3 females, and 5 boys, employed. Depth of adit, 47 fathoms ; depth below, 85 fathoms, now sinking. Rock, clay-slate and elvans. 1 Pumping-engine, 60-inch. 1 winding and crushing engine, 24-inch. Mineral Sold In 1864: Copper ore £3,791 9/-. 11d.
This mine is in the manor of Sinns, a very old mining district. The present Company began their work about 10 years ago. At times, the prospects were bright, but they soon changed. The present returns fall short of the working cost. It is to be hoped that at deeper levels the circumstances will change for the better'

Production figures for Great North Downs are incomplete. It is known that the mine produced copper between 1862 and 1870, with its best year being 1868 when the 2,513 tons of ore raised were sold for £12,271.80. Tin was also produced - figures show production between 1862 and 1906. Arsenic was also present and about 16 tons were sold in 1898 according to the records.

For more information on production dates and so on please see Roger Burt's excellent book Cornish Mines: Metalliferous and Associated Minerals, 1845-1913 (Mineral Statistics of the United Kingdom, 1845-1913).

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

Great Briggan (approx. 0.4 km; COPPER & TIN)

Wheal Rose (approx. 0.6 km; COPPER & TIN)

Wheal Boys (approx. 0.7 km; COPPER & TIN)

Wheal Peevor (approx. 0.8 km; COPPER & TIN)

Hallenbeagle (approx. 1.0 km; COPPER & TIN)

North Treskerby (approx. 1.0 km; COPPER & TIN)

East Downs (approx. 1.1 km; COPPER)

West Wheal Peevor (approx. 1.2 km)

Stencoose & Mawla Mine (approx. 1.5 km; COPPER)

Treleigh Wood (approx. 1.7 km; TIN & COPPER)


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