Botallack Mines are not the only Poldark filming location we’ve visited in our holiday to Cornwall, if you remember my post from Gunwalloe. I still have a few other posts from that holiday to share. The Botallack Mines are owned and managed by National Trust, so check their website for details if you fancy a visit.
In this area, in the 19th century, there were 100 engine houses. Although mining records show that mines were around this area from the 1500s. Bottalack mines closed in 1895 due to the falling prices for copper and tin. Many other Cornish mines were already closed.
As you can see from the pictures, these mines were very close to the sea. Thus, the miners would also mine under the sea, reaching half a mile out under the seabed. Initially the workers would use basic tools like hammers, chisels, and gunpowder. Despite the rudimentary tools, Botallack produced roughly 14,500 tonnes of tin, 20,000 tonnes of copper, and 1,500 tonnes of refined arsenic. Of course, mines would also produce waste that would have been dumped into the sea; colouring it red from this 1.5 million tonnes of waste thrown into it.
In the early 1800s, a pumping engine was set up at the base of the cliffs. It was used to extract workings developing under the sea, from the lower levels. It was successful and was replaced by the current lower engine house.
A new winding engine was installed in the 1860s and the Prince and Princess of Wales descended this shaft in 1865 to inaugurate the new section of the mine. Their presence insured that Botallack soon became a very popular tourist attraction, for those wishing to follow in the footsteps of Royalty. They would charge visitors to go down the mine.
Now, the place is beautiful, relaxing, and quiet. But when it was a working mine it would have been different, noise from the tin ore being crushed, carts, engine working, sawmill, blasting. Smoke from the engines would fill the air and from the production of arsenic.
It is a fascinating place to see, for its connections with an interesting series, for its history, and for its natural beauty.
If you visit the Botallack Mines, you should also try some of the Cornish pasties made fresh on site. These are delightful.
Botallack Mines can be found on the Tin Coast, near St Just, Cornwall. It is countryside that can be visited from dawn to dusk.