Gwennap, Cornwall

Gwennap Pit, Cornwall

Gwennap is a small village SE of Redruth, best known for Gwennap Mines . The district was linked to the north coast at Portreath, from which much of its copper ores were shipped. The Gwennap mines were remote from both the north and south coasts, and as a result incurred high charges for the transport of timber, coal and ore. John Williams of Scorrier solved this problem with the construction of a horse-drawn plateway from his mines at Poldice through Scorrier to a newly-constructed harbour on the north coast at Portreath in 1819 – the first railway in Cornwall. Williams’ Portreath Plateway did not long survive the closure of the principal Gwennap mines.

Gwennap Pit is a mining subsidence caused the creation of a circular natural ampitheatres.John Wesley came here regularly to preach to the inhabitants of the surrounding mining communities, drawn by its natural acoustics and the shelter it gave from high winds. Wesley first mentions preaching at the Pit in 1752, when he records in his diary - "The wind was high at 5 (p.m.) that I could not stand at the usual place at Gwennap. But at a small distance was a hollow capable of containing many thousand people beneath and on all sides." He preached at the Pit again in 1766, 1769, 1770, 1773, 1775, 1777, 1778, 1780, 1781, 1782, 1787 and 1789 (Wesley died in London 1791)

The ampitheatres is now terraced, and Methodists still use it every year for meetings.

The church is mostly of the 15th century, with some earlier parts, while the north aisle is at least a century later. The tower is detached and is near the south entrance to the churchyard.

Gwennap, Cornwall genealogical information from Genuki


Return to Map of Cornwall - Gazetteer