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A View of

South Caradon Mine


The Mine in 1885

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Click for enlarged view The silence of the pumps 
The stopping of South Caradon's pumps forced the neighbouring mines to close. Interconnected underground they could not win the battle against the rising water levels. It marked the end of an era in Cornwall, when an estimated 25% of the population emigrated as the result of the collapse of the mining industry.
This picture was probably taken in the later days of the mine's life, click on it for an enlarged view.
Extract From 
A The Mining Journal September 1885 

"Sale of South Caradon Mine (Limited), Liskeard, Cornwall 

Mr May is instructed by the directors of the South Caradon Mine (Limited) to offer for sale by auction in one lot, at the auction mart, Tokenhouse yard, in the city of London, on Wednesday, 9th September, 1885, at two in the afternoon precisely, the whole of the valuable mining plant, machinery and stores of the South Caradon Mine (Limited), all in good working order and including....." 

The following has been extracted from the remaining text of the sale notice and reproduced in a more readable form. 

Pumping Engines  
  • 70" with 3 boilers
  • 60" with 3 boilers
  • 2X 50" with 5 boilers
  • 40" with 2 boilers
  • 35" with 1 boiler
Winding Engines  
  • 24" with 1 boiler
  • 2X 22" with two boilers
Stamp engine 
  • 30" with one boiler
  • 24 head of stamps and crusher
  • 20 foot water wheel with stone breaker
Man Engine 
  • 23" with one boiler
  • 14" Horizontal with air compressor
Miscellaneous engines  
  • 12" engine with air compressor
  • 12" with saw bench
  • 7" with steam hammer
  • 1000 fathoms pumps
  • 600 fathoms main rods
  • 500 fathoms air tubes
  • 800 fathoms wire rope
  • Over 3000 fathoms tram rails
  • 500 fathoms ladders
The mine had attempted to survive as a limited company but rising costs had made it unprofitable to continue. The vast network of underground workings required constant pumping to remain accessible and the falling cost of copper could not support the expense. The auction appears not to have success and in 1889 a rise in copper prices a further caused a last unsuccessful attempt to re-open the mine. 

The machinery listed has been obtained from the sale notice. If you have read the sale notice and disagree with my interpretation please drop me an email. 

The list provides a snapshot of the infrastructure of South Caradon. Twelve pumping, winding, stamping and man engines are listed. The tramway lines total about 6km, some of which was underground. 

The figures for 1885 show 3,436 tons of ore raised for an income of  £11,174  and the mine was employing 289 staff. 
The sorry figures for 1886 are a meagre 83 tonnes produced by two surface workers. The great mine had died. 
On many mine sites in Cornwall dangers may still exist, many hidden.  
This web site is published as a resource to those using the public rights of way.
Home Page  History Time line   People  1851 1843 1863 1885 Views  Information sources