Engine houses at Crowns Mine Botallack © Copyright Rod Allday and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Engine houses at Crowns Mine Botallack
The left hand one housed the pumping engine to de-water the mine and the right hand the winding engine, which hauled men and materials up the diagonal shaft which extended under the sea.
Copyright © Rod Allday and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The earliest workings at Botallack date from around 1721, when a lease to work the land here was granted by Lord Falmouth. Botallack mine is thought to be the amalgamation of several small mines including Wheal Cock, Wheal Chase, Zawn a Bal, Wheal Hazard and Wheal Hen.

In about 1815 a pumping shaft was sunk on the Crowns Rocks dewater this section of the mine. Mining continued up to the late 1820s when a fall in the price of Tin, coupled with little ore left in the shallow workings, forced the mine being offered for sale in 1835.

The lease was bought by Steven Harvey James in 1836, but he too struggled to make the mine pay. The discovery of a rich body of Copper ore in 1842 brought a change to the future of the mine and allowed further investment to be carried out. In 1858 the Boscawen Diagonal Shaft was sunk, to gain access to deeper ore deposits out under the sea and by 1865 the workforce had more than trebled.

A serious accident occurred in the Boscawan Diagonal Shaft on the 18th April 1863 when the chain broke when hauling men up. Nine miners lost their lives when the skip fell from the 135 level to the bottom of the shaft. The full report can be found here.

By 1874 the Crowns section of the mine was worked out and production then centred on Wheal Cock. In 1875 the price of Tin fell, due to a find of an alluvial tin deposit in Queensland, Australia. The company struggled on working ore against the depressed price of Tin. Closure of Wheal Cock was due to two incidents of flooding, one in 1894 and the other in 1895.

The mine reopened in 1906 and a shaft sunk to 1400 feet (426m) and was worked for a number of years. However the Tin reserves were now located far out under the sea and the mine finally closed in 1914.

The engine houses were consolidated in 1985 by the Carn Brea Mining Society.

An article originally published in the Nov 2020, Feb 2021 & May 2021 NMRS newsletters on the mine can be found here.

Further reading:

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