Dolcoath Mine

Dolcoath Mine

Dolcoath Mine is located 0.6 km SW of South Crofty. Dolcoath mine, sometimes called 'The Queen of Cornish Mines', was originally a copper mine with an output over 350,000 tons - the fifth largest producer in Cornwall and Devon. Then when copper began to get mined out, between 1853 and 1920 saw it yield the largest output of any Cornish mine of black tin, over 100,000 tons. Between 1799 and 1920 the value of its production was over £10 million (for all minerals). Other minerals extracted included ores of arsenic, tungsten, lead, silver, bismuth, cobalt and uranium.

The Main lode, considered the most important and productive ore body in the west of England prior to the mining expansion in the area during the 1960’s, can be traced eastwards through Cooks Kitchen, Tincroft and Carn Brea Mines. The general strike of the lode is 30° to 40° N it ranges from 0.30 - 5.5 m thick in the upper levels to 5.5 – 16.5 m thick below 400 m.

Harris states that Dolcoath is Cornish for "The Old Pit" and says that the mineral rights were owned by the Bassett family of Tehidy who are recorded on a deed in1588 as leasing the ground to a family called Crane.

Shafts. As the copper ores were mined out, tin was discovered at the lower levels. Dolcoath mined six different lodes including the Caunter Lode. The principal shafts were Harriet's, Valley Shaft and Old Sump Shafts. Several other shafts were later sunk at the end of the 19th century such as the New Sump Shaft and New East shaft. Its main Williams Shaft - named after its chairman Mr. Michael Henry Williams - had an exceptionally rich lode at the 412 fathom (2472 feet) level and the sinking of the shaft began on 26th October 1895.

The mine began working in the 1720's and was over 300 feet deep by 1746.

In 1788, the great copper slump forced the mine to close, but it was restarted in 1799.On reopening, it grew eventually to become the largest and deepest mine in Cornwall.

In 1836, the lower levels were abandoned as the copper ores had been worked out.

From 1844, it was re-worked for tin at greater depth, producing also small quantities of arsenic, cobalt, bismuth and tungsten. Dolcoath also amalgamated with several other smaller mines including Stray Park (1871), Bullen Garden Mine and Roskear.

Dolcoath Mine was probably the most progressive mine in the county and the first Californian stamps were erected there around 1892 to be followed by the first vanners and shaking tables about 1898.

South Crofty Ltd took over the mine in 1906.

Shortly after World War One, tin prices fell drastically, plus new deposits were found elsewhere in the world. The once mighty Dolcoath shut in 1921.

Today, the mine has been landscaped in some areas but left derelict in others. Grassed over, reworked waste makes up most of the site.

Dolcoath: Queen of Cornish Mines
Thomas R Harris

Camborne Mines