Leswidden and Balleswidden Mine, Cornwall

Leswidden and Balleswidden Mine, Cornwall


The name Balleswidden incorporates the word white. It is the mine (bal) at Leswidden. In the 13th to 17th centuries Leswidden was spelt Lesewyn, Leswen, and Lesswyn (white manor or perhaps white mud).

1841 Balleswidden Mine, April 16th. A Copper and Tin Mine mentioned in Royal Commission Report on children working in mines.

Balleswidden Mine worked until 1875. Few mining remains can now be seen here, partly due to the presence of china clay operations. Clay was worked here from 1875, the original supply coming from the waste tips of Balleswidden. Clay works sprang up here between 1880 and about 1910 and worked again in the 1920’s and 30’s. In the 1960’s a new operation, South
Bostraze, opened, however, this is now abandoned.

Leswidden reopened in the early 1900s (presumably as a china clay pit) and took on some of the men who were discharged from Botallack Mine in 1914. Until 1926 the works was owned by McClaren China Clays. The two pits, Balleswidden and Leswidden, appear to have worked together by H. D. Pochin and Co. and then by English China Clays.

1932, following the formation of English Clays, Balleswidden and Leswidden near St Just was closed. ECC merged then with its two principal competitors, Lovering China Clay Co. Ltd. and H.D. Pochin & Co., thus forming English China Clay Lovering Pochin & Co.

Balleswidden - Tin 1852–75
Balleswidden United - Tin 1854
East Balleswidden - Tin 1853, Tin 1873–74
New Balleswidden - Tin 1889–95
North Balleswidden - Tin 1905–06

In the early 20th century Cape Cornwall was owned by Captain Francis Oates, a mine owner who started his working life at age 12 in Balleswidden mine and worked his way up to be Managing Director of De Beers in South Africa. He eventually returned to west Cornwall, where he built Porthledden House in 1909.

Tredinney is the most southerly of the pits in the St Just area, 2km south of the Balleswidden pit. Slurry from the pit was pumped to settling tanks and a kiln at Lower Leah 1.6km to the south-east. Apart from the separate kiln and settling tanks at lower Leah the Tredinney site is not conventionally divided into extraction and processing sections. This site, which appears to have opened and closed during the first and second large-scale surveys of the area in 1875 and 1906. The site was certainly closed in 1893 when two of the directors of the China Clay Union Ltd., Thomas Fenwick and Lord Godolphin Osborne, tried to buy it for £4,500. An attempt to reopen the site in 1970, by Zennorin Investments, was turned down for environmental reasons. Trevithick Society photos of Tredinney

St Just Area Mines, Cornwall