Wheal Buller Mine, Cornwall

Wheal Buller Mine

Wheal Buller produced some 242,000 tons of copper in its working life. Wheal Buller was formed out of the neighbouring workings of Trewirgie Downs and Wheal Beauchamp, enabling underground access to one mile of some of the richest copper lodes in Cornwall. Between 1819 and 1875 Wheal Buller produced 141,707 tons of copper ore and between 1859 and 1875, 1,373 tons of black tin.

1819 the mine commenced work in when it produced 11 tons of ore and by 1825 had achieved its maximum ore production level of 6,230 tons.

1826-7, Redruth and Chasewater Railway (for goods and minerals) opens, running from Wheal Buller to Devoran, with a branch to Redruth.

1836 production had fallen so low that further work was abandoned and the mine closed.

1848 the mine reopened with new workings to the north and west

1851 a steam-powered winding engine was installed, with two more engines the following year, one being purchased from Harvey's of Hayle. Up until this time the ore had been raised by horse whim.

1853 its monthly profits had risen to £5,170.

1856 Wheal Buller was able to pay the highest dividend to its shareholders of any mine in the county. This was however short-lived since the dramatic rise in production levels of 1853 was matched by an equally dramatic decline in 1868.

1862 and 1868 an attempt was made to avert this decline with the sinking of two new shafts, concentrating on the production of tin ore from 1859 to 1875.

1875 having failed to locate sufficiently rich new reserves, the mine was forced to sell the mine's equipment and it ceased operation.

1928 and 1930 a later reworking of Hocking's Shaft, during which it was deepened by a further one thousand feet, proved unsuccessful and Wheal Buller was once again abandoned.

1997-98 The site was surveyed by Cornwall Archaeological Unit in advance of a shaft capping scheme by Kerrier District Council. Extant features included remains of a probable engine house wall at Davey's Shaft, an arched tunnel which possibly carried water from here to processing areas downslope, and walling at Whitford's Shaft associated with flat-rods coming from Davey's Shaft, forming part of the flat-rod angle-bob pit.

Wheal Buller's prosperity was evidenced by the grand Count House (the accounting house) where every quarter day the adventurers (shareholders) came to hear the Company's accounts for the previous months. This was followed by the main business of the day, a spectacular banquet for all the adventurers where huge quantities of food and drink were consumed. Many of Wheal Buller's adventurers invested just to participate in these splendid feasts which were held in the magnificent upstairs banqueting hall with its oak panelled walls and fine ceilings - the plaster cornices decorated with fruit and flowers.

1935 Wheal Buller closed, the property was turned into houses by a Mr Martin who was a local builder and landlord from Lanner. He built extra washhouses, privvies and converted Wheal Buller into seven rental properties. There was no running water or electricity but there was a large water tank in the front of the Mine Captain's House with a pipe which collected rainwater from the roof launders.

1961 Camborne-Redruth Urban District Council served closing orders on each property at Wheal Buller Count House and forced the tenants out, so by 1963 all but one, an elderly lady who refused to go, had been moved out. The bureaucrats finally evicted her in 1965.

1977 the buildings were in severe decline. A planning application by the then owner to turn them into four flats was refused and squatters moved onto the land.

1992 when its ruin was offered for sale at an auction in Redruth. In spite of the stupidity of the local council, the purchaser was able to restore the buildings.

Wheal Buller Restoration Project


Mines in Redruth Area, Cornwall