South Caradon Mine worked from 1837 to 1885. It was the large amount of copper found at South Caradon Mine that were responsible for the development of the Caradon Mining District. Over a period of fifty years its copper output ranked third in Cornwall. 217,820 tonnes of ore were produced here in the 19th century.
In the early 1800's, a miner called Ennor working for a group of Plymouth and Devonport adventurers dugs an adit in from the Seaton Valley looking for copper. The trial was unsuccessful. The lease then changes hands several times, often for very small amounts.
1833 Captain James Clymo and the Kittow family acquired the lease.An adit running eastwards from the Seaton Valley was the starting point of their trial.
1834-1835 Despite shortage of resources the miners continue to persevere in extending the adit, following promising signs of ore deeper into the hill.
1836 It took them three years to strike copper. Within a few months of striking the main lode the shares were worth £2,000. The adventurers perseverance and determination is rewarded when the main ore body is discovered but no investors in London could be found to finance the venture. The original miners therefore financed the mine themselves.
1837 First returns are made for the mine after just over £327 had been paid out. 130 tons of ore (of 10% metal) is produced. The first engine was installed at sump shaft. Within a few years South Caradon became one of the biggest Copper mines in the world.
1840's The mine was producing nearly 4,000 tons of ore a year from the eleven lodes at South Caradon.
1844 the mine employed 410 people and the mining engineer William West had constructed a pumping engine and was acting as engineer.
1845 – 64 the output rose to 5,744 tons a year and during those nineteen years the overall production from the mine totaled 850,000 tons, which was worth £756,613.
1850's The mine was employing 600 people. The area around Caradon hill was
said to resemble the gold rush mining camps of the Western USA.
Mid 1860's The Price of copper drops, despite large amounts of ore being produced profits drop. Nearly 6000 tons of ore a year was being produced by South Caradon. Increasing output failed to increase profits in a falling price market for copper.
1866 the miners decided to strike. The strike collapsed after it was met with resistance by the owners and the men were forced to accept new conditions.
1869 Captain Clymo had resigned due to ill health and was succeeded by Captains
Rule and Holman. They continued to carry out developments
1873 The mine became the biggest copper producer in Cornwall. But profits still fell. The annual output at South Caradon was 5,000 tons, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to pay dividends.
1880 Work Stopped at the Mine
1880s began for South Caradon with disputes over carriage tolls with the railway and with the landowners over royalties.
1883 A limited company South Caradon Limited was formed to raise more capital
and attempts are made to keep the mine more profitable by extending the Eastern
part of the workings. Under South Caradon Limited the workforce grew from 300
to 400 concentrating on the eastern side as the older parts were now almost
worked out. Attempts were made to explore to the south but these developments
proved costly and with little return. At the end of 1885 the mine was closed
and its machinery advertised for sale.
1872. One of the last Man Engines installed in Cornwall was fitted at Jopes Shaft and moved in 1884 to Kittows shaft.
1885 Work Ceases, despite having copper reserves the mine was too expensive
to run with the low price of copper. The Liskeard and Caradon Railway then went
into receivership as its existence was dependent on the wealth produced by the
South Caradon mine.
1889 following a rise in the price of copper a new company was formed to work the South Caradon, East Caradon and Glasgow Caradon setts. Despite the fact the price of copper had doubled, confidence remained low and the shareholders were unwilling to reinvest.
1890 Final closure The site becomes mine history
Engine houses, such as the one at Jope’s Shaft (1862; subsequently the site of the last man-engine to be built in Cornwall in 1872) and at Holman’s Shaft (1875), form distinctive landmarks. The mine’s well-preserved cobbled dressing floor can still be seen in the valley floor. The original shafts were Jopes Shaft, Rule North Shaft, Rule South Shaft, Kittows Shaft and Sumps Shaft. Sumps Shaft was very deep at 457 meters (1500 feet)
South Caradon Mine
Caradon and Liskeard Mines