Great Work Mine is on the south coast of Cornwall, about 4 miles west of Helston, between Godolphin Warren and Tregonning Hill on the Godolphin-Tregonning Granite outcrop.The mineral lodes ran SW-NE stretching from Boscreege in the south to Deerpark in the north.
1538 There is an historical account by John Leland that 'There are no greater Tynne workes yn al Cornwal than be on Sir Wylliam Godolcan's Ground'. This indicates that the land was leased from Sir William Godolphin - the mineral lord - an ancestor of the very influential Godolphin Family.
1584 records show that the mine was employing as many as 3000 people
1643 at Great Work one lode was 11 feet wide (3.5m), but most were only a few inches wide (10cm).
1689 Great Work was the site of the introduction of blasting to mining by Thomas Epsley. Though it may have been Wheal Vor or the neighbouring Godolphin mine that gunpowder was first used for blasting.
1715 the Godolphins invested in a steam-engine to do the heavy lifting at Great Work.
1746 The clays of nearby Tregonning Hill were used by the miners of Great Work to repair their furnaces. A Mr. Cookworthy came to stay with Captain Nancarrow of Great Work and saw the miners using this clay. Cookworthy took samples back to Plymouth and the clay was used to make porcelain until a source of purer clay was discovered near St. Austell.
1773 the Godolphins are trying to sell their equipment to other mine owners. Twenty years later Great Work mine is closed and by the beginning of the nineteenth-century almost all the Godolphin estate’s mines have closed.
The mine spread southwest swallowing Wheal Sidney (Pool's shaft; New Barker's shaft and Kendall's shaft) and named after Sir William's grandson Sidney Godolphin (1645-1712), Lord Treasurer and first Earl of Godolphin. It took over the underground workings of the old Wheal Boys mine (Engine shaft; Jordan's pump shaft; Rosewarne Pump shaft and Bob shaft) and spread westward towards Wheal Reeth near Germoe.
By the 19th century there would have been three engine houses with a whim engine house and stamps engine house in addition to the preserved pumping engine house on Leeds' shaft. Other shafts were, Burnt Whim shaft, Crane Shaft and Fire Engine shaft, Wheal Breage shaft; Wheal Kine shaft; Blow Shaft; Mollard's shaft; Payhouse shaft; Trenhayle shaft; Plummer's shaft; Pennock's shaft; Pensandane shaft; Goodfortune shaft; Highborough shaft and Deerpark Shaft.
1930 The last reworking. The engine house which formerly held a 60 in pumping engine was cut down and provided with a flat roof.
Today all that remains e are the ruins of the pumping engine house and the stack of Leeds shaft. Great Work Mine is now in the care of the National Trust.
Wendron Mining District