Grenville United Mine

Grenville United Mine

Wheal Grenville Mine is located to the southeast of Camborne on the western extremity of the Great Flat Lode.

The 'mineral lord' Baroness Grenville granted a lease in 1845 a lease to work the area southwest of the existing Condurrow Sett. The new 'Wheal Grenville Company' took over the workings of earlier ventures such as Polgine and Newton Moor mines and worked for about six years before being purchased by 'John Taylor and Sons' - a company run by the local tramway entrepreneur. Wheal Grenville did not however live up to its initial profit expectations and the company was sold in 1855.

The eastern section of the land was hived off in 1859 to become East Wheal Grenville Sett - this venture proved unprofitable and the mine was abandoned in 1877 and reabsorbed into the Wheal Grenville.

Towards the end of the 1860's the shallower copper ore was mined out and the mine switched to tin found at deeper levels. However a severe fall in the price of tin between 1873-79 caused profits to drop, and this mine explored the area to the east of their sett locating what we now know to be part of the Great Flat Lode in 1874-78.

The new management team (1876) under R.W. Goold (chairman) and Capt. T. Hodge (mine captain) helped to turn the fortunes of Wheal Grenville around. They persuaded investors to put money into renovating the mine. The former 'North Shaft' being worked again as Goold's Shaft (with its 80" pumping engine) in honour of the chairman. The following year saw Goold's locate the ore of the Great Flat Lode.

Goold's engine house. Designed by Loam, the engine erected here was built by Harvey & Co. during the period 1875-1880. The engine cost £1,800 delivered on the mine. The sister engine cost £1,840 and went to North Wheal Basset where it was called Waddington's Engine. The foundations for the North Shaft engine house were cut in January 1877 in an area of waste tips along the south side of the Newton Moor-Troon road. The new engine was able to drain the mine working at only 3¾ strokes per minute. In 1906 the beam broke in the centre doing considerable damage to the engine and a replacement beam was ordered from Holman's. The new beam was considerably heavier than the old one, weighing 38 tons, versus the original's weight of 23 tons. The engine was finally scrapped in 1928.

Wheal Grenville was able to pay a dividend for the first time in 1881 and by 1890 it was highly profitable. In 1889 the able Captain Hodge died but was succeeded by Capt. Charles F. Bishop, who was another good manager. Bishop helped to update Wheal Grenville and the mine operations extended eastwards.

A new shaft was sunk at Fortescue's near to the former Walton's shaft in mid 1899, with an engine house erected for an 90" pumping engine as well as one for the 28 inch rotative beam engine (whim) engine - thought to have previously been used at South Roskear Mine in Camborne - both buildings completed in 1892. Fortecues shaft is 2370 feet (395 fathoms) deep and the beam engine for the pumping engine house was built in about 1873 by Harveys of Hayle initially for a mine in South Wales but it was never delivered, and was stored at Hayle. The engine was moved to Fortescue's on completion of the engine house in 1892.

Grenville New Stamps was built between 1889-92. The engine house with its 30" engine and the associated dressing floors downslope were constructed in 1891 to provide new dressing facilities for the Grenville United Mines and was connected to the old East Grenville production shafts by an extensive tramway. The engine, bought from West Condurrow for £300, had an auxiliary beam operated by the left-hand stamps flywheel to pump water to the stamps grates. Grenville stamps were increased to 136 heads in 1892 and a 20-inch engine was acquired to pump water to the floors. A frue vanner house was built in 1900 to house Holman's Vanning (shaking) tables.The jagged appearance of the chimney is due to damage caused during a lightning strike in April 1897 causing the chimney to be shortened.

The year 1893-94 saw Wheal Grenville at its most profitable ever, with production at an all-time high. This year also saw another drop in the price of tin but Wheal Grenville survived and became a limited company.

In 1906 Grenville United Mines was formed out of the amalgamation of Wheal Grenville, South Condurrow and part of West Wheal Frances. On 8 March 1906 Condurrow Mine was resurrected as Condurrow United Mines Ltd, with a registered capital of £30,000. The directors included J. M. Holman and J. R. Goold, of Wheal Grenville, J. C. Daubuz, of the smelting family and the chairman, D. J. Neame. The manager was Captain S. Bennetts.

The new mine was to be centred on Woolf's Shaft, which was to have a second-hand 80-inch pumping engine. The 80-inch cylinder engine, with 10-foot outdoor stroke and 9-foot indoor stroke, was built originally in 1868 by Harvey's of Hayle and installed at Batter's Shaft of West Chiverton Mine. After use in a number of mines, it was offered for sale in January 1905 and bought for £1,525 by Condurrow United in 1906. The engine was installed in a new engine house built in about 1907; work originally started on the north side of the shaft but after the foundations were cleared it was discovered that the ground was weak and the house was consequently built on south side. Four new Holman boilers were to provide the steam. In honour of the company chairman the shaft was to be renamed Neame's Shaft and the 80-inch was to be called Neame's Engine. However the shaft and engine were always known locally as 'Woolf's', as they are today.

In 1910 Condurrow Mines Ltd was formed to take over from the previous company. Little ore was produced and the mine closed in 1914. The engine was sold to Holman's for scrap in 1916.

1914-1918 The First World War created a demand for metals to feed the war effort, that drove tin prices up. But at the same time miners were conscripted into the army, and around 20% of of its workforce was lost. Fortescue's couldn't sustain profitability after the war and closed in December 1920 with the owners formally 'winding-up' the company the following year. The engine was re-used to pump water from New Cook's Kitchen shaft at nearby South Crofty.

The engine house can be found today on the crest of the high ground overlooking the valley of the Great Flat Lode and can be seen for miles around. The house is well-built and in a generally good condition; it is listed Grade II*.

Trevithick Society Grenville Stamps

Trevithick Society, Grenville Engine House

Camborne Mines