Levant Mine, Cornwall

Levant Mine, Cornwall

The Levant Mine has a comparatively recent history. It began in 1820 and closed in 1930. The Levant Mine produced in excess of 130,000 tons of copper, 24,000 tons of tin, and substantial quantities of arsenic. The main Levant workings lie on the coast, stretching from Levant Zawn almost to Geevor.

1820 Richard Boyns a local mining man formed a new company to work the mine, almost immediately they struck a rich vein of copper ore which eventually led to large dividends being paid to the shareholders.

1856 Kellys Directory. Levant Copper and Tin Mine is in the parish of St. Just, Cornwall. It is divided into 160 shares. In [1851,] the dividends were £3,361, or £21 per share; in [1852 an]d 1853, £320, or £2 per share; and in 1854 and 1855, £[960] or £6 per share. The purser is H. Borrow, of Truro.

1857 a Man Engine was installed on the mine, and this saved the men climbing up and down ladders. They could now reach the mining areas using it to the 266 fathom level ( approximately 1800 feet from surface) with very little effort.

1873 Kellys Directory Levant copper and tin mine is in the parish of St. Just in Penwith, Union of Penzance, Cornwall situated 7 miles north-west of Penzance, which is the nearest railway station and shipping place. The mine is held under lease of 21 years, at a royalty of 1-24th. Badden shaft is sunk 300 fathoms. Boscregan shaft is sunk 73 fathoms. The mine is worked and drained by five steam engines. The company is on the costbook system, and consists of 2,500 shares. Purser Richard WHITE. Manager Henry BONNS. Captains James THOMAS and Nathan WHITE

1904.The mine reached its deepest point the 350 fathom level. Access to the lower levels was achieved by sinking two shafts out under the sea, Old Submarine shaft connecting the 210 to the 302 fathom level and, New Submarine Shaft connecting the 260 to the 350 fathom level.

1919 This mine saw the greatest single loss of life, in 1919, 32 men were killed, when the main rod of the man-engine broke whilst 150 men were being brought up from below.

1920 the old cost book company was dissolved to be replaced by a new limited company 'The Levant Tin Mines Limited' under a new manager Colonel F.F. Oats. However it only worked down to the 210 fathom level and survived for ten years on ground supposedly worked out many years before.

1930 October, the Levant Mine closed, having worked almost without interruption since 1820

1935 Moves were made in to preserve the machinery, and eventually by teaming up with the National Trust, the building and machinery were saved, opening to the public in 1992

1950's the neighboring Geevor Mine investigated the possibility of reopening Levant to enable them to work the seaward extension of their own lodes. Initial investigations in Skip Shaft revealed that the sea had broken in to the old workings. This hole through to the ocean was eventually traced to a notorious weak spot in Levant on the 40 fathom level. It took two attempts to seal this breach but by the end of the 1960's this had been successfully achieved. Skip Shaft was refurbished to the 190 fathom level with a four man cage being installed in place of the original two ore skips.

1881 Geevor and Levant succumbed to the collapse in the price of tin in 1985 and closed in 1991, both mines are now flooded to sea level.

At Levant there is a restored 24-inch cylinder steam winding engine, which was about 100 years old when saved from being scrapped in the 1930’s. Unusually the entire beam is contained within the little engine house, rather than half of it being exposed as was more common. Currently, the engine is operated at times throughout the year. The engine that survives at Levant, and is operated today, was designed in 1840 by Francis Mitchell and built by Harvey's Foundry in Hayle. It wound ore up from Skip Shaft at a speed of 400 feet per minute. Today the engine is owned by the National Trust having been handed over by the Society in 1967 along with other engines: Taylor's 90-inch and Robinson's 80-inch pumps and Mitchell's 30-inch whim. Taylor's and Mitchell's are both on display at Pool.


Levant: A Champion Cornish Mine
John Corin

Levant Mine

St Just Area Mines, Cornwall