Geevor Mine, Cornwall

Geevor Mine, Cornwall

Geevor Tin Mine is on the cliffs of Penwith. The site can be reached from the village of Pendeen, on the coast road from Land's End to St. Ives. It was one of the last deep Tin mines in Cornwall and closed in the 1991 and has now been converted into a museum. The shaft and mine buildings are on the site of the former North Levant Mine, which was incorporated with the Geevor sett in 1920. The original Geevor Mine sett lay about 250 m further southeast, and closer to Pendeen village, than these buildings. The original Beam Engine has been restored to steam power at the Levant Mine and is the oldest working beam engine in Cornwall.

Mining has taken place at Geevor for more than three hundred years and over the years the mine has had various names.

1851 After one closure the mine reopened under the name of North Levant.

1867. During exploration work seawards from Goldsworthys Shaft, on an inland section, miners accidentally broke through into a flooded workings of Wheal Maitland , five workers including a 13 year old were killed.

1873 Over the next few years the mine expanded to include Wheal Bal and Wheal Carne

1891 mining operations came to a halt. Between 1892 and 1904 mining was continued on and off on a small scale.

1899 The Boer War broke out forcing many miners who had emigrated to South Africa following earlier tin slumps in Cornwall, to return to the St. Just area. They explored the tin bearing area adjacent to Levant and were encouraged enough by 1901 to form a company called Levant North (Wheal Geevor).

1904 the West Australian Gold Field Company Ltd. acquired the site which they renamed in 1911, bringing together various mines under the name of Geevor Tin Mines Ltd.

1918 Geevor milled 24,956 tons and employed 205 underground and 98 surface workers.

1919 Hopeful of finding new ore lodes, they sunk a new shaft called Victory near to the existing mill.

1950s the mine yield dropped and for the next 30 years Geevor Tin Mines explored the surrounding area to try and find new reserves. So called submarine extensions gave access to lodes not previously accessible.

1980s Geevor took over Levant on the closure of the latter and attempted to rework Botallack during the 1980’s. Another mine
absorbed by Geevor is Boscaswell United, between Pendeen and the sea. Little remains of this mine, although the small 20th century mill can be found beneath the brambles and gorse.

1985 Tin Crisis, price of tin fell from £9,000 to £3,400 per ton overnight, and wiped out the Cornish tin mining industry and Geevor with it. Wheal Jane and South Crofty got Government rescue packages, Geevor did not.

1986 Geevor shut down. The mine was maintained on a temporary basis while a six year struggle ensued unsuccessfully to try and get it reopened. The tin price recovered at the end of 1987, but returned to around £3,000 per ton, the mine was finally closed in February 1990.

1991 when the pumps were finally turned off in May that year.

1992 Geevor Tin site was acquired by Cornwall County Council and with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund in Spring 1993 the site was opened as a museum. The Trevithick Trust ran the site until 2001 when Pendeen Community Heritage (PCH), a registered charity, was awarded the contract for the management of Geevor. Today Geevor is the largest preserved tin mining site in Europe, and one of the largest protected industrial heritage sites in the UK.

A rediscovered ‘adit’ gives underground access to ‘Wheal Mexico’, a part of Geevor worked about two hundred years ago. The mine offices now house a museum telling the story of Geevor, a video film explains the method of mining the mineral rich rock and the processes of crushing and washing the ore to recover the tin-bearing cassiterite. A guided under-ground tour, displays of original mining machinery and a fascinating museum bring the past to life.

Geevor Tin Mine web site

St Just Area Mines, Cornwall