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North Roskear Mine, Cornwall

Principal ores: COPPER & TIN

Camborne: grid reference SW656413

Notable minerals: Actinolite, Blende, Chalcopyrite, Chlorite, Dolomite, Galena, Haytorite, Jasper, Opal, Prase & Rock Crystal.

North Roskear sett lies on the northeastern outskirts of Camborne stretching from Weeth Road in the west to Tuckingmill in the east. Some historians place its eastern boundary as the top of East Hill where the slip road to the A30 bypass now exists. It was bounded at one time or another by Wheal Seton, East Wheal Seton and the Wheal Gerry Section of South Roskear. The mine worked the following lodes. Main Lode was worked from Pearce's Shaft, Paull's Shaft, Prince William Henry Shaft, Old Doctor's Shaft and New Doctor's Shaft whilst Blewett's Lode was worked from Blewett's Shaft. Other lodes include Wheal Knight Lode and a North Caunter Lode, whilst there were also further shafts called Old Wheal Crofty Shaft, Pressure Shaft, Hill's Shaft, Enys's Shaft, Darke's Shaft and Parkanbowan Shaft present on the sett.

The mine is known to date from the 1790's and was re-opened in 1816. Equipment at the mine included a 70-inch pumping engine, with a 10-feet stroke in 1828 and another 36-inch pumping engine with an 8-feet stroke in 1834. The initial 1828 engine being replaced by a brand new 70-inch engine on Doctor's Shaft in 1831. Other plant included a 18-inch x 4' winding engine in 1838 and a 36-inch pumping engine that later moved to Wheal Brothers near Calllington. In 1835 the mines of Wheal Wellington, Parkanbowan and Crane Mine, in the far west of the sett amalgamated to form the de Dunstanville Mines group. During the 1830's production at North Roskear decreased with a matching fall in dividends paid, although this trend was reversed in the 1840's.

It was recorded by Joseph Y. Watson in his 'Compendium of British Mines' (1843) as 'In Camborne, was first opened about 50 years ago and left a profit of £90,000. The present proprietors commenced working in 1819 and have made a profit of near £100,000. The present profits however, are very small. The mine is 200 fathoms deep with about 700 persons employed. The monthly cost £2,200 and the machinery on the mine valued at £15,000. From June 1834 to June 1842 they returned ores to the value of £213,200 1/- 6d'. Other historians dispute the accuracy of Mr Watson's records however, claiming that the figure of £90,000 in profits are a little on the ambitious side as the well respected Mining Journal states a figure closer to £59,000 between 1834 and 1853.

Reports from 1843 state that the mine had an income of £2,595 a month as against costs of £2,260 a month - in other words North Roskear was making a clear profit of £335 every month. 1845 was to be the high point for the mine. From the 6,430 tons of copper ore sold for just under £41,000 at a price of £6.37 per ton production began to decrease. Although ore production remained at over 5,000 tons of copper ore per year until 1850 and costs were kept in check, North Roskear had 'had its day'. As output fell, so did the return to the investors with the final dividend being posted in October 1853.

North Roskear began to change its mining methods to raise tin with the first 16 tons of black tin raised sold for £1,022 - a rate of £63.875/ton. Tin production increased gradually as copper output fell, rising to a maximum of 190 tons of tin worth £10,580 sold in 1865. The production of Arsenic began in 1867.

Thomas Spargo concurs with his earlier colleague as he states in his book The Mines of Cornwall (1865) that North Roskear was '... in Camborne, Cornwall, in 700 shares. Purser, Mr. Thomas W. Field, Marazion. Manager, Captain Joseph Vivian, Camborne. Landowners, Messrs. Pendarves, Basset, and Enys. Dues, 1-20th. Depth of adit, 37 fathoms ; depth below adit, 240 fathoms; but the present workings are above 205-fathom level. 300 men, 194 females, and 111 boys employed. The "country" is clay-slate and greenstone. Pumping-engine, 70-inch. Stamping-engine, 36-inch, lifting 96 heads. Winding-engines, 28-inch.

Operations by the present Company began about the year 1818, and profits amounting to about £110,000 were divided before the minerals were so reduced as to fall below the cost, which occurred about ten years ago. They have latterly erected a steam stamping-mill, and made other additions and improvements necessary in a tin mine, which this has now become; and it is expected, after a little time, that the mine will become self-supporting, if not something better. The lodes are numerous'

The tin price fluctuated and began to fall as more of the metal began to flood the market driving the price down. It fell from £55.684 in 1865 to just £49.275 per ton in 1867. On balance the overall income from production fell from over £15,000 per year to less than £10,000 per year in 1866. This was halved in 1867 when the total value of production was just £4,099. Despite slight improvements in the price of tin over the next few years, North Roskear struggled financially. Copper production continued to fall to a low point of just 13 tons in 1873 and output of black tin dropped to 31 tons in 1874.

Production figures for North Roskear are as follows:- 1819-36, 1838 and 1845-74 1,557 tons of black tin. 1816-74, 167,400 tons of 8% copper ore; 6 tons of zinc ore and 1,340 tons of arsenic. The mine stopped work in 1874.

Thomas Spargo also sheds light on the mine of Roskearnoweth or New Roskear, he writes '... in Camborne, Cornwall, in 700 shares. Purser, Mr. T. W. Field, Marazion. Manager, Captain Joseph Vivian, Camborne. Landowners, Messrs. Hartley, Basset, and Enys. Dues, 1-20th. Depth of adit, 37 fathoms; depth under adit, 70 fathoms. Rocks, clay- slate and greenstone. 17 men and 1 boy employed. No machinery, except a whim or two.

This mine was a part of North Roskear till February, 1863, when it was separated, with an intention to work it effectually as a distinct mine, which has not yet been done. It will never be so worked until an engine has been erected to enable the miners to sink much deeper, which the character of the lodes fully warrants. A large quantity of copper ore has been taken away from time to time, but in 1864 none was sold. In this district few mines are rich at shallow levels. Their motto should be, "sink! sink!"'

Roskearnoweth Mine was set up on the suggestion of George Batters of West Chiverton. He claimed that it would be prudent to form a separate company on the western part of the sett. The mine was actually a re-working of the old Wheal Wellington Mine with a 70-inch pumping engine installed over the old Wheal Wellington Shaft in mid-1863. Roskearnoweth was a relatively small concern employing 17 men and one mine boy. It was not a success however and the company was wound up in 1866. Its sett lies under present day Wellington Road.

For more information on North Roskear and its neighbouring mines please purchase a copy of the excellent Cornwall's Central Mines: Northern District, 1810-95 by T.A. Morrison.

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 Roskear (approx. 0.3 km; COPPER, TIN & ARSENIC)

Wheal Seton (approx. 0.5 km; COPPER, TIN, ZINC & ARSENIC)

West Wheal Seton (approx. 0.6 km; COPPER, TIN & ARSENIC)

Wheal Emily Henrietta (approx. 0.8 km; COPPER & ZINC)

North Crofty (approx. 0.9 km; COPPER & TIN)

East Wheal Seton (approx. 0.9 km; COPPER & TIN)

Dolcoath (approx. 1.1 km; COPPER, TIN, ARSENIC & MISPICKEL)

Cook’s Kitchen (approx. 1.3 km; COPPER, TIN & ARSENIC)

South Crofty (approx. 1.5 km; COPPER, TIN, ARSENIC & WOLFRAM)

South Tincroft (approx. 1.5 km; COPPER, TIN & LEAD)


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