South Caradon Mine, Cornwall
Caradon: grid reference SX268698
Notable minerals: Chalcocite, Chalcopyrite, Cuprite & Fluor .
The sett of South Caradon Mine lies about half a mile from the summit of Caradon Hill, on its southern slopes and in the Caradon Mining District of East Cornwall. The mine was one of the major copper producing mines in Cornwall with a total output of 217,820 tons of copper ore. It lies in sixth posiition behind Dolcoath (241,522 tons) and Carn Brea Mines (237,500 tons). The sett is bounded by Gonamena Mine to the north, West Rosedown and East Caradon to the north and east and West Caradon to the west. We are grateful to John Manley whose provided us with a great deal of information about the area.
The mine worked two distinct groups of lodes. The northern section worked Main Lode from Pearce's and Engine Shafts, whilst the southern group consisting of Clymo's Lode, Jope's Lode, Kitford's Lode, Caunter Lode and Holman's (otherwise known as South Kitto's) Lode were worked from Jope's Shaft, Clymo's Shaft, Rule's Shaft, New Engine Shaft and Kitto's Shaft. The lodes were described as and were usually less than two feet in width although in places the Main Lode widened to twelve feet.
There is an excellent walk taking in all the locations mentioned, available in Volume 2 of Kenneth Brown & Bob Acton's Exploring Cornish Mines and also in Peter Stanier's book - The Minions Moor. Leaving your vehicle at Minions village, follow the path to the right of the Cheesewring Hotel, passing through a gate before walking down the wide path. Very quickly it dawns on you that the granile slabs on which you are walking are actually former setts (granite sleepers) that held the rails of the Liskeard & Caradon Railway. The path leads past a small water treatment works before heading down the Gonamena Incline.
Cross the Seaton river and head southeast up towards a mine chimney and ruined engine house. This is Old Sump Shaft. To see the area at its best, now head steeply up to Pearce's Shaft, recognisable by its twin buttresses. The next shaft encountered is Clymo's Shaft before walking the short distance to Rule's and Holman's Shaft. It is possible to head further northeast to Kittow's Shaft and ultimately East Caradon Mine or to head back to Jope's Shaft before retracing your steps back to Minions and your vehicle.
The mine commenced work in 1833 and worked until about 1870. Its finest year's production was the £57,040.40 made from the 5,144 tons of copper raised in 1864. Between 1874 and 1879 South Caradon rose to become the 3rd largest copper producer in the southwest, with Kitford's and Caunter Lodes yielding much of the ore raised. It was, by far, the deepest and richest mine of the whole Caradon group of mines and is known to have produced over 202,000 tons of high grade (10.25%) copper ore between 1838 and 1885. It reopened briefly between 1883 and 1886.
Joseph Yelloly Watson writes of South Caradon in his 1843 book called 'A Compendium of British Mining' that it was '... In the parish of St. Cleer, near Liskeard, was originally searched for tin, and when the lode was first discovered in Caradon Hill, and found to contain a quantity of gossan, it was considered so unfavourable to the existence of tin, that it was with difficulty a Company was formed to work it; but the Messrs. Clymo who had obtained the sett, persevered and three rich copper lodes were soon opened. The original outlay to the adventurers before the mine made returns in August, 1837, was only £327 8s. 5d., and from that time to the 31st March, 1840, they sold copper ores to the amount of £15,635 10s. 7d., paid all costs for machinery, including two steam engines and a whim ; and divided a profit of £2,400, leaving £1,379 8s. lOd. in hand: from that time to November, 1842, they have divided, altogether, a profit of £19,168, and are now receiving at the rate of £10,000 a-year, with every prospect of greatly increasing the returns. Some mine agents have asserted that there is £150,000 worth of ore discovered in this mine; but be that as it may, the prospects are exceedingly brilliant, and not surpassed by any other mine in Cornwall. A great part of the workings are in Caradon Hill, which is 1,208 feet high. The monthly cost of working is about £1,800'.
Some years later, Thomas Spargo, writes in 'The Mines of Cornwall and Devon: Statistics and Observations' in 1865, that South Caradon was '... in St. Cleer, so long a dividend mine, is well-known in the mining world'. It was brought out by Mr. P. Clymo, many years ago, and by it both he and all his family have been enriched, with many others. It still pays dividends, and is likely to continue to do so for many years to come. Agents, Captains W. Rule, J. Pearce, J. Holman, and W. May; Manager, Mr. P. Clymo; purser, Mr. T. Kitto, Linkinghorne.'.
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Other nearby mines and their main ores
Gonamena (approx. 0.2 km; COPPER)
West Caradon (approx. 0.2 km; COPPER)
Caradon Consols (approx. 0.8 km; COPPER)
East Caradon (approx. 1.3 km; COPPER)
South Wheal Phoenix (approx. 1.3 km; COPPER)
Glasgow Caradon Mine (approx. 1.5 km; COPPER)
Craddock Moor (approx. 1.8 km; COPPER)
West Rosedown (approx. 2.0 km; COPPER)
Marke Valley Mine (approx. 2.0 km; COPPER & TIN)
Wheal Jenkin (approx. 2.0 km; TIN & COPPER)