Levant Mine and Beam Engine is a filming location for Poldark. So for any Poldark fan visiting Cornwall, this is a must see. The mine doubles as Tressiders Rolling Mill in Poldark. Besides, the place is so interesting. It is part of Cornwall and West Devon Mining World Heritage Site. Also, it is the only Cornish beam engine in the world that is still in steam on its original site. After it was out of use for 60 years, a team of dedicated and passionate volunteers restored it. I saw it working and it was fab. Such a privilege to see something so old still working.
From Levant Mine tin and copper was extracted for generations. The mine workings would extend over a mile out under the sea bed. The company owning the mine was formed in 1820, but the mine is older than that. The first record of it dating back to 1748.
In 1836, the records show that 320 men, 44 women, and 186 children were employed on the site. Quite a staggering account, to see so many children employed.
In the first 20 years of operating, it was very profitable. To realize how profitable the mine was, consider that it started with a capital of £400 and it made £4,630 in two months. It was, obviously, a huge success. The men employed at the mine would extract the ore, while the women and children would prepare it for sale. In 1840, a whim engine, made by Harvey’s of Hayle and designed by Francis Michell, was installed. This engine would carry ore to the surface. 17 years later, in 1857, a man engine was installed.
The engine would bring up man or lower them to the mine, cutting precious time spent on going up and down ladders. As a result of the economic depression in the 1930, the price of tin had dropped dramatically. The mine went into decline when it started losing large amounts of money and it was closed.
As I mentioned earlier, copper and tin were mined there. On top of that, arsenic was also produced. Arsenic was a by-product of tin ore and it was widely used as pest control.
We were lucky to find places at a guided tour and so we were allowed into the deep mine.
This is where one of the shafts was placed. As you can see in the next picture, is a very long way down.
This is how miners would mine, only where the precious ore was and not extracting useless rock. That meant sometimes they would only be able to insert an arm to continue mining.
These alcoves were used for storage; miner’s felt hats and candles. I can’t even imagine how hard the life of a miner would be.
In 1919, the man engine suffered a disastrous failure when a link between the rod and the engine snapped, killing 31 men. The engine was not repaired, and the deep levels were never worked again, and this disaster is commemorated at the mine.
After closing down, the mine was stripped of metal. Levant mine finally became a National Trust property in 1967, the same year as East Pool Mine. As I mentioned earlier, the engine was restored by volunteers, between 1984-92.
Levant Mine and Beam Engine are in Trewellard, Pendeen, near St Just, Cornwall, TR19 7SX. Pay and display car park, that is free for NT members. Entry fee is £8.10 for adults and free for members.