Wheal Fortune is on Cusgarne Downs, at the east end of Gwennap parish. it is on the hillside above the stream which divides it from Kenwyn Parish.
Although it worked for tin to start with, it was through mining copper that it prospered during the last part of the eighteenth and early part of the nineteenth century. For most of its life the mine was associated with Cusvey, the mine sett which lies to the south-east of Wheal Fortune. Most of the historical background to Wheal Fortune is the same as for Cusvey Mine.
1780, A Plan of Cosgarne Common in Gwennap Parish does not show a mine at Wheal Fortune, but does show Bread and Cheese Lode, across the valley at Nangiles Mine, and shows it running into the Cusvey sett, and apparently worked there. Below Wheal Fortune, close to Woolf's Shaft, tin streaming is shown, with asome leats and a set of stamps.
1799 The appendix to the 'State of Copper Mines' report includes figures for Wheal Fortune from 1792 to 1798, and shows a well-established mining operation.
From 1792 and 1796 the mine suffered a loss of over £7,000, but in 1797-98 it made a profit of nearly £12,000.
1819. Richard Thomas' map of the Camborne to Chacewater mining district shows the workings of Wheal Fortune and Cusvey ('Coosvea'), and his text shows them to be working as one mine. There is a branch from the County Adit into the main workings of Wheal Fortune shown.
1819, John Taylor, the mining entrepreneur, obtained leases for all the mines along the strike of Wheal Virgin lodes, from Carharrack in the west to Wheal Fortune in the east, and worked them under the old name of Consolidated Mines. In 1819 Wheal Fortune was 140 fathoms below adit level.
1821 plan of Consolidated Mines, shows extensive surface arrangements, indicative of a mine which had been worked on a large scale. Many shafts, copper dressing floors, bucking sheds, engines, coal yards, carpenters' shops and blacksmiths' shops, together with a large account house. Unusually for such an early period the plan shows, 'changing huts' or a miners' dry.
1821 plan shows two engine shafts, West Engine Shaft, to the west of Chapel's Shaft and Bawden's Engine Shaft at the eastern end of the main workings. Woolf's Engine Shaft was not shown, as it was not sunk until the mid-1820s, when a second-hand 90-inch engine was erected there in 1826.
The story of Consolidated Mines after 1819 was spectacular. By 1823 it was rivalling Dolcoath for production, and until 1840 its copper ore tonnages were the largest in the world. In 1858 the combined mines closed, by which time production had exceeded 442,000 tons of copper ore, which had sold for nearly £3 million, in less than forty years
1861 a new combination Clifford Amalgamated was formed, consisting of Wheal Clifford, United and Consols mines. During the next eight years the group raised 105,000 tons of copper ore, which sold for over £473,000. It also sold black tin, blende, iron pyrites and arsenic.
1870 Wheal Fortune and Cusvey were abandoned. The engines and machinery were sold or scrapped and the buildings and dressing floors fell into ruin.
Trevithick Society, Wheal Fortune
Gwennap Area Mines.