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Explore the Tin Mine, Trenere Wolas Gardyns & the Cornish National Heritage Collection

Celebrating 50 years of the Cornish Heritage Collection.
BBC filming new Poldark series June 2014

GOLDEN JUBILEE YEAR 2021- 2022. Our intention is to give an interesting, engaging and educational introduction to Cornwalls mining and social heritage. The museum and grounds are home to many unique exhibits, interpreting the fascinating story of the Cornish miners overseas and at home. The Cornish Heritage Collection opened its doors for the very first time on June 1st 1971 - so June 2021 to June 2022 was our GOLDEN JUBLILEE YEAR - the museum offers something of interest to people of all ages and from all walks of life.

The group of actors in the photograph above were at the mine during on location filming that took place here for the BBC Television Poldark series that was first broadcast during 2015. The group dressed as miners from the 1700s are standing just outside the mine entrance. Wheal Roots Mine Workings known as The Poldark Mine is the only Cornish Mine where underground on location filming for the series was undertaken. The mine was also a location for the two BBC 1970s series of Poldark and several other productions and programmes such as BBC TV series Flog It. The Man in the Iron Mask had his mask made and fitted at Wendron Forge in the 1977 TV production, most other locations being in France. Another, shorter, BBC television series Penmarric was filmed at the mine in 1979.


We are in the heart of the Wendron Mining District and are its interpretation centre with maps & details of the many mines and tin workings in the locality. By 1779, the Wendron area was the most populated mining district in Cornwall with 9,000 inhabitants – this was double the size of the combined populations of Camborne, Redruth and Illogan!

The parish of Wendron is the oldest mining district in Cornwall, in the oldest granite in Cornwall by some 20 million years! The Cober River Valley was one of the most important tin streaming areas.

Tin Streaming started in the area during the Bronze Age. The testament to this is the Trenear Mortar Stone in the grounds of the Poldark Mine of today. It is a ground-fast granite outcrop that was used some 3000 to 4000 years ago by ancient man to pulverise the alluvial tin ore from the Cober River. Its now listed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument of National Significance and has many mortar holes & indentations. Its the only such location in all of England.

Tin Streaming thrived in the area during medieval times, the museum at Poldark Mine has no less than three Mediaeval Mortar Stones on display which were excavated in the grounds.

Wendron became part of the Cornish mining boom from the 1700s – the parish had very rich deposits of tin. Copper & a small China Clay mine also operated beside Poldark Mine for a time, with some 640 known mining sites of one sort or another. For these reasons, Wendron is Area 4 of the ten areas of the Cornish & West Devon Mining Landscape inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2006.

The River Cober meets with the Medlyn River on Porkellis Moor. The combined rivers become the River Cober which flows through the grounds. Its rushing waters powered the Wendron mining industry. Over time, the river was diverted in 1284 along leats to work waterwheels here and other machinery, the first being at Poldark Mine which is served by a mile and a half long leat branching from the river at Porkellis Moor. The leat remains to this day and was created around the end of the 13th Century by Cistercian monks who were given the land on September 15th in 1284.

Cornwalls [probably the worlds] first ever water-powered tin stamping mill and its leat was erected at Trenere Wolas [Lower Trenear - the Trenere Wolas Gardyns of today] in the 13th or early 14th Century by Cistercian monks from St Marys Abbey at Rewley in Oxford who had been given the Wendron Church and lands by Royal Charter confirmed on September 15th 1284 - 740years ago in 2024! The Black Prince gave further lands to the Rewley Abbey monks along with Stithians Church in 1354 - 668 years ago in 2022. The tin mill and water wheels were recorded in the Royal Assession Rolls as still working in 1493 when a lease to a John Trerys was renewed, and also during the Commonwealth in the 1650s another freeman tenant was recorded at the Tin Mill & Tin Dressing floors, Henry Leonard. The mill continued in use until the late 1870s.

Trenear became the residential and industrial hub of Wendron. In 1650, it was recorded that there were wheelwrights and blacksmiths workshops, a blowing house (for smelting tin), and crazing and stamping mills (for grinding and crushing the ore bearing rock). During the 1800s, at least four stamping mills operated in the area – known as Salena, Bodilly, Glebe, with Wendron or Trenear Stamps being the major one with four water wheels and had up to 55 heads of stamps at its peak.

WOMEN & WENDRON MINES Great Wheal Lovell in Wendron, just over a mile from Poldark Mine & Museum on private land visible from the road just beyond the village on the way to Helston, has a unique claim to fame as being the only mine in this part of Cornwall known to have been overseen by a woman. Between 1840 and 1845, a Mrs Lydia Taylor was the mine manager.

BAL MAIDENS A woman’s usual role in mining was to work on the dressing floor as a ‘bal maiden’. They crushed up ore bearing rock into small pieces on special anvils with large hammers, and carefully sorted the valuable ore from the waste mineral. Bal maidens usually wore large bonnets called ‘gooks’ to protect their heads and faces from flying stones, and a coarse hessian apron (a‘towser’) to protect their skirts. Their legs were often wrapped in strips of material to protect them from the cold and damp.

FANNY MOYLE, a 14 year old child was working a Frame Girl at Wendron Tin Stamps here in our gardens in 1871 - her mother Susan was Count House Keeper and a widow at the age of just 36. Susans sister Elizabeth was 30 and a Mine Assistant. We also know the names of a family that worked the Glebe [or Wood] Stamps close by, these were the Penalunas. Richard and Charity and their two sons Richard and James were sub tenants of Trenear or Wendron Tin Stamps from circa 1854 to the 1870s. We have a photograph of the family in the museum.


Described by UNESCO as the Jewel in the Crown of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Inscription the outstanding underground tour of the workings at what was known as Hwel Roots [Wheal Roots Tin Mine Workings] at the Poldark Mine of today gives a unique insight into working conditions in 18th and early 19th century tin mines and into the geology of Cornwall. It is the only complete underground mine open to the public in Cornwall. Visitors are able to see the distinctive blue peach tinted veins of tin bearing ore coursing through various parts of the mine. What remains has about 0.8% tin content.

For an overview of the history of the grounds see the quick page links panel on the right.

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Address: Poldark Mine, Trenear, Wendron, Helston, Cornwall TR13 0ES UK      Call: 01326 573 173

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