Kenidjack ArsenicWorks, Cornwall

Kenidjack Mines, Cornwall

Kenidjack arsenic works. The Kenidjack or Nancherrow Valley lies just to the north of Cape Cornwall and about half a mile to the northeast of St. Just. The valley is cut by the Tregeseal river - a source of power for the tin streams and other workings along its length. Many waterwheels have been powered by the flow of the river over the centuries and a small reservoir is still visible today.

A track runs down the hillside to the floor of the Kenidjack Valley. Upstream across a bridge lies the remains of the Kenidjack arsenic works whilst a less distinct path runs along the northern bank of the Tregaseal river down to the rocky beach at Porthledden Cove.enidjack arsenic works. These works contained a furnace that was the precursor to the Brunton calciner. Most of the surrounding walled structures contained waterwheel-driven crushing mills.

After a years work to consolidate the labyrinths, calciner and related structures, visitors can now safely explore the formerly contaminated works. The works were built to extract arsenic from the tin ore produced at the mine, as arsenic left the ore almost unsaleable.

The ore was heated to high temperatures in the calciner, and the fumes which were given off were drawn through long stone tunnels called labyrinths, on whose walls the arsenic would condense out. The miners who entered this poisonous environment to collect the arsenic, were protected only by cotton wool in their nostrils and clay covering their exposed skin. The arsenic was then sent to refineries and processed for use in the chemical industry, and used in pesticides, dyes, making shot, clearing glass and in medicines. At a time of fluctuating tin prices, the additional income provided by arsenic sales could make the difference between profit and loss for many Cornish mines.

Paul Bonnington, from the National Trust said, 'These restoration works are a good example of how everyone involved has gone to great effort to use funds creatively. The contractors have gone out of their way to work inventively and cost-effectively.'

St Just Area Mines, Cornwall