Ding Dong Mine, St Just Cornwall

Ding Dong Mine, St Just Cornwall

Ding Dong is an old mining area about 2 miles south of the St Just to Penzance road. The name Ding Dong has led to speculation as to its meaning. One suggestion by Cannon Jennings in his book on the history of Madron, Morvah and Penzance is that name refers to ‘head of the lode’ or the outcrop of tin on the hill. In Madron church there is a ‘Ding Dong Bell’ that was rung to mark the end of the last shift of the miners.

1782 sixteen working mines were to be found in the area and the present sett include Ding Dong in the middle, Providence, Tredinneck and Ishmael’s to the east and Wheal Malkin and Wheal Boys to the West.

1796 Ding Dong was involved in an infringement lawsuit. A 28 inch cylinder inverted engine designed by Edward Bull was put into Ding Dong in 1796. But Bull had been chief engine erector for Boulton and Watt. James Watt considered the engine to be an infringement of his ‘condenser patent’. Bull had started erecting engines of his own design, with the beam directly beneath the cylinder instead of above. Richard Trevithick was an engineer for Ding Dong mine. A conventional Boulton and Watt engine was inverted by Richard Trevithick and William West. Attempts to summons Trevithick were hampered by his threat to throw anyone who tried to stop him down the engine shaft.

1820 Ding Dong appears to have worked in its final form, at this time a new 'fire engine' was erected.

1834 the mine had two pumping engines (24 and 30-inch) and two winding engines (12 and 15-inch).

1840 the mine was reported to have five engines and was working after a brief suspension.

1850s there were 206 men and boys employed. T he eastern part of the mine was exhausted and work was concentrating on the western (Greenburrow, the old Wheal Malkin) section.

1860s The mine managed to survive the depression in tin prices caused by the American Civil War although manpower had decreased to 121 men and boys.

1877, July 11th, Ding Dong finally stopped working although several attempts were subsequently made to reopen as a working venture. The mine had a particular pattern with 22 lodes in the mine that were continually throwing out branches none of the lodes came to the surface and by the time the mine closed it had reached a depth of 138 fathoms from the surface.

1911, following a rise in the price of tin, the dumps were explored and the following year the Ding Dong Mining Syndicate was formed to work them. The mine was equipped with Californian stamps, ordered from Holman's at St Just, buddles and a round frame. From September 1912 to March 1915 13,649 tons of hand-picked ore had yielded 51 tons of tin concentrate however at this point the war-time drop in metal prices caused the mine to close once more.

Since then three more attempts have been made to reopen the mine; the first failed because of water problems and the other two through local opposition.

1814-78: 3,475 tons black tin (Dines)
1855-78: 2,799 tons black tin (Burt et al)

Trevithick Society, Ding Dong Mine


St Just Area Mines, Cornwall