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 museum offers something of interest to people of all ages.
Described by UNESCO as the Jewel in the Crown of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site the mine tour gives a unique insight into working conditions in 18th and early 19th century tin mines and into Cornwalls geology. It is the only complete underground mine open to the public in Cornwall.
For an overview of the history of the grounds see the quick page links panel on the right.
Thankfully the mine changed hands in 2014 having lacked investment for the previous 14 years, many of the machines and collections for which the museum was renowned were sold off. Some of this was plain asset stripping, thankfully some items went to good homes, some should never have been sold having been gifted. All of this stopped when the museum was saved in May 2014. Some items have been recovered and hopefully others will be returned.
The original owners the late Peter and Jose Young, were very supportive to the new owner and were pleased to know that the machinery so valiantly rescued and donated to the museum in the 1970s is now on the way to being restored and placed under cover for new generations to enjoy.
The gardens and mine changed hands again in 1999, sadly many items given or loaned to the museum were sold off by these owners or just taken away, and finally went into bankruptcy in 2013.
In the very nick of time the mine and open air museum were rescued from developers in May 2014 by a new owner bringing with him a considerable heritage related tourism experience along with London hotel and restaurant management skills, with a determination to bring the Poldark Mine Demesne back into good order and to restore the machinery saved by Peter and Jose Young.
Several collections of items came with this new owner and some of these are now on display in the ever expanding museum - things that shaped our world such as telegraphy, telephony & telecoms all rely on tin & copper and a new Techno Tin & Copper section is already evident.
The Wesleyan Connection Collection which now includes no less than three full size church organs,(and another in storage) one of which was built in Truro as a memorial to the fallen of the village of Treverva in the Great War.
Many large & small items from a variety of Methodist Chapels & Sunday Schools such as; Flushing, Falmouth, Treverva, Hale, and other places, are already on display and the exhibition explains how the Wesley brothers ministry had such a profound influence on the lives of Cornish Miners, farm workers and fishermen.
The lovely gardens are being restored, a large bandstand was added in 2015, and 8 concerts and two plays were performed in the gardens in 2016. Much of the Poldark Demesne is starting to look as it used to do.
The old museum was closed in 2013 having been decimated by the departing owners who took or sold off many items donated to the museum. Thankfully the core of the collection remained in various places and a number of items were found dumped in sheds which are now back in their rightful places, some have yet to be restored.
In late 2014 a newly relocated museum, ticket office was opened in the former egg packing & refrigerated warehouse built in the 1950s. This building is around 40 foot wide and 150 feet long. We only use around half of the space at present. Having started off with a smaller space, we have expanded in each of the three years since the rescue adding a new entrance hallway ready for the 2017 season. A tea room overlooking the gardens was added to the new refreshment & coffee counter in 2015. New exhibitions are planned. The new custodian brought several collections to the museum and many new exhibits & artefacts have arrived and some are already on display. More will be added in late 2017.
The lower part of the grounds was acquired by Peter Young & opened to the public as Wendron Forge on June 1st 1971. With great foresight Peter collected steam engines, which at the time were being sold for scrap metal, and installed them in various locations. The mine was discovered in 1975, a new access passageway was driven at a cost of £75,000 and with a team of volunteers the mines passageways and stopes were cleared ready for public opening in 1976. It was first opened to the public as Wheal Roots Mine.
Wendron Forge & Wheal Roots mine was renamed Hapenny Park, in 1977 BBC TV started filming at the mine for the Poldark Television drama and the author Winston Graham and Peter Young agreed to rename the mine as Poldark Mine. Some of Winston Grahams books were launched at the mine including his last work, Bella Poldark in 2002.
Poldark Mine grew into one of Cornwalls major tourist attractions and one of the UKs first industrial heritage museums. By the end of the 1980s Peter decided to retire and John McLeod took over having worked with Peter for some years. John drove a new passageway from the lowest part of the mine enabling a circular adventure trip for visitors. This was at great expense.
We raise about 20 million gallons of water out of the mine each year - that`s about 35,000 to 40,000 gallons (160,000 to 180,000 litres) each and every day. The output is at present being pumped into the upper pond and can be seen flowing through two spouts, this enables us to know at a glance that the mine pumps are working properly. A second location for sighting pumped mine water is by the mine entrance and this flows directly into the lower leat. We can switch the flow from one to the other as required.
Poldark Mine is the only Cornish Mine open to the public being pumped today - it`s the very last of thousands that once operated. The mine is also electrically lit throughout.
The workings are force ventilated 24 hours a day all year around by a large electric fan.
All of this power being used makes an impressive annual bill! One day, we hope to get our 1904 water wheel into operation with a turbine alongside to generate our own power in order to reduce the enormous costs of keeping this unique Tin Mine open to the public.
Mr and Mrs Peter Young - founders of this museum.
In July 2014 we reported the sad passing of Peter Young the founder of this open air museum in 1966. Peter was the man who discovered and opened Wheal Roots Mine to the public in 1976 thus giving many millions of visitors the opportunity to go down Cornwalls only Tin Mine and its historic location that has a tinning history of an incredible 4000 years.
Regarded by many historians as the veritable cradle of Cornish Tin production and location of a unique Bronze Age Scheduled Ancient Monument to pre-historic Tinners, the Trenear Mortar Outcrop was listed by English Heritage in 2009. The living rock outcrop is the only known example of an early hand tin-crushing site in the South West of England.
The Outcrop and Mine, set in a lovely riverside garden Demesne and associated Museum would not be here only for Peter and his wonderful collection of unique machinery, Cornwalls last beam engine in service and other treasures such as the Holman Museum contents that Peter obtained for £1 in 1979.
We were very privileged to have had his support and encouragement and we were saddened by the news. He was delighted to know that the Poldark he created was being rescued and just a few weeks before he passed away he telephoned our present director and chatted amiably for the best part of two hours, which was remarkable as he was ill at the time.
He was pleased to know that the 95 year old steam railway locomotive from Falmouth Docks had been located was to be returned to the mine. Peter had originally rescued this 26-ton Peckett of Bristol engine in 1976. It arrived home in October. Now our challenge is to restore it to working order and we are intending to name it Peter.
Clearly a remarkable man who did much for Cornish tourism and employment in this area and saved many historic things that would otherwise have been lost including the very last beam engine to work commercially in Cornwall. This can be seen in the gardens having been taken down and moved here by Peter and his team in 1972 at enormous personal expense. Some of Peters ashes were brought to the mine by his daughter Carol. These are due to be placed within the mine in a suitable place. Sadly in January 2017 Jose Young passed away after a short illness. She was in her 90th year. Our condolences are extended to the Young family for the loss of two wonderful people.
POLDARK MINE & DEMESNE
The Trenear Mortar Outcrop dates from the Bronze Age. This stone offers unique evidence of tin production from the rich alluvial deposits of the River Cober and is situated by the edge of the Main Car Park. The Mortar Outcrop was the scene of tin production in prehistory, of national importance the Outcrop is designated by the Secretary of State as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
The official record of the listing contains the following information:-
The mortar outcrop at Trenear, 9m north east of Poldark Mine entrance is the only known example of an early hand tin-crushing site in the South West of England. The outcrop survives very well because it has until recently been protected by a layer of soil, which may also preserve rich environmental and archaeological information; particularly in the area adjacent to the southern edge of the rock..
The monument includes a large earthfast slab of granite with at least 17 circular or oval shaped hollows, here argued to have been ore-grinding mortars, worn into its upper face. The site lies within the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site, site No. 17.
The mortar outcrop is situated on the northern edge of the floodplain associated with the River Cober. The hollows are similar to those found on mortar stones associated with tin stamping mills, but their disposition precludes mechanical formation. The hollows vary considerably in size and depth with the largest one being 22cm long by 20cm wide and 10cm deep. The interior of all the hollows are worn smooth as a result of the crushing process. The hollows are all situated along the southern part of the outcrop and were formed by hand crushing of tin ore from the nearby alluvial streamwork.
Hand crushing of ore is considered to have been carried out in Cornwall before stamping machinery was introduced during the medieval period. Using field evidence alone the precise dating of this tin ore crushing site is not possible. It would, however, fit most comfortably into the later prehistoric period when particularly rich ore recovered from the adjacent streamwork could have been economically crushed by hand.
1254 .... The monks at the Cistercian Abbey of St Mary at Rewley in Oxford were given the advowson of St Wendron church & its chapels before 1284 by Edmund Earl of Cornwall with its Great Tithes and glebe lands - that was over 730 years ago. Edmund was the son of Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall and grandson of King John. Before this St Wendrona Church had belonged to his Manor of Helston which included the whole parish. The ancient Wendron village church is on a hill overlooking the mine at Trenere Wolas,(Lower Trenere} the Trenear of today. Its tower can be clearly seen from the tea garden at the mine and the ancient bells of the church ring out for all to hear.
1354 .... Edward the Black Prince [1330 - 1376] added the advowson of lands at Stithians and its church and this was approved by the bishop in 1354, over 700 years ago. A record of tithes relating to the use of the waterwheels exists in Wendron parish records.
1254 - 1400s .... The waterways in the valley that flow through the grounds were created by the mid 1300s or perhaps earlier, most probably by the Cistercian Monks themselves. The waterways remain to this day, the tail race ponds, leats & tin dressing floors now form part of our pleasant gardens.
The Cistercian Monks controlled and may well have operated the tin stamps in the mid to late 1300s, or early 1400s - the Cistercians from the mother Abbey* in France were renowned metal workers and hydraulic experts from early times. An ancient system of waterways and water wheels exists at a Cistercian Abbey in Spain.
*Cîteaux Abbey near Dijon in France is the mother abbey and was founded on Saint Benedicts Day, 21 March 1098
Tin working continued at Poldark and in 1493 due to a lease renewal recorded in the Royal Rolls, the location is the worlds first recorded mechanical water-powered tin stamps. Treating ores mined locally for centuries. The rent recorded was 3s 4d per annum.
.. In 1864, the two Wendron Consols mines sold 117 tons of black tin for just over £7,000. [copper was also produced from one of the mines] At that time there was a workforce of 184 men, 61 women and 50 boys. All the women and younger children were employed above ground in dressing & sorting the tin ores in what are the mine gardens of today. The dressing floors & tin mill continued in operation until 1886.
The water powered tin mill became Trenear Dairy and used the water wheel to produce and process milk, cheese and Cornish Bard Butter. There was also an egg packing station which was in the building we use today as our museum, shop & ticket office. The dairy continued until 1972.
Built by Harveys of Hale around 1846 this engine was first supplied to the Bunny Tin Mine, near St Austell. Part of the ruined engine house remains may be found today.
It has a 30 inch cast iron cylinder with an 8 foot stroke. The beam weighs 12 tons.
The engine was moved to Greensplat near St Austell in 1894 at a cost of £65 at the time – not a small sum then. It was rebuilt there by Nicholas Manhay of Pescovillet. A reverend gentleman had to be taken home in a wheelbarrow following the traditional celebrations at the time of its restart in 1897! The engine was handed over to Caleb Nichols the first Engine Man. Caleb trained an apprentice from Carclew - Arthur Hancock, he was the driver who finally shut off steam for the last time during Christmas Week 1959. It was the very last Cornish Engine to be in commercial use south of the Tamar and thus marked its unique place in Cornish mining history by some 5 years, all other engines in Cornwall had ceased service by 1955.
The building was eventually listed but the engine was acquired by Peter Young in 1972, it was in a partly vandalised condition. Peter and his team moved it at considerable effort and enormous cost over the winter of 1972/73. It was re-erected at Wendron Forge, Trenear, which is the Poldark Mine of today. It has been running here since that date for most of the last 45 years. Being in the open air the workings of the engine are exposed for all to see, this appearance makes the engine look most odd, naked of its cladding and other fittings. The museum holds several steam & other gauges that belonged to the engine and also the unique hand made Enginemans chair is on display.
The listed (1974) Engine House remained in situ perched on the edge of the vast open cast pit workings. It was de-listed by English Heritage in 2000 so that it could be knocked down!! It was demolished in 2002. It could have been saved as Peter was willing to move the entire engine house to Trenear but the council would not allow it! So Cornwalls very last commercially working engine house was destroyed. The engine house stood close to the village chapel & Sunday school. Sadly, nothing remains on the location today as the entire village of Greensplat was removed and the hills were mined away for China Clay. The hedge lined road to the former village ends abruptly some distance away from what is now a vast hole in the ground.
This is the record at English Heritage:
Description: Greensplat Engine House
Date Listed: 11 March 1974
Date Delisted: 18 January 2000
English Heritage Building ID: 396626
OS Grid Reference: SW9968455418
OS Grid Coordinates: 199684, 55418
Latitude/Longitude: 50.3645, -4.8179
Location: Greensplat Road, Treverbyn, Cornwall PL26 8XY
Postcode: PL26 8XY
The following building was de-listed on 18th January 2000
SW 95 NE 5/573
Engine house complete with engine, not now in use. Stone rubble, one end cement rendered. Adjoining chimney with white brick upper stage. 30 inch Cornish Beam pumping engine, the last to be in use in Cornwall. Listing NGR: SW9968455418
OPEN AIR MUSEUM
[1 & 2] The Billingham-on-Tees Compressors ...... They may not look to be of National importance but in fact they date from 1918 and have a history of some significance. We are intending to move this pair of historic machines into our compressor house as soon as funds are available. The first is a massive electrically driven GEC 500v DC motor linked to a Belliss & Morcom two stage compressor, the smaller steam driven set alongside is a Reader Steam Engine driving a Reavell Compressor [Reavell became part of Holman Bros].
Billingham-on-Tees was a small village in 1917, when its Grange Farm was chosen to be the site of a large chemical works. On 22 March 1918, the Minister of Munitions approved the site to be developed as a factory to make ammonium nitrate. It was known as the Government Nitrogen Factory – it fixated atmospheric nitrogen.
The author Aldous Huxley visited the works which inspired his famous 1931 book Brave New World. Later The Alan Parsons Project would name their 1984 album Ammonia Avenue after the plant.
From 1929 the Bergius process was developed to hydrogenate carbon (coal) and make synthetic petrol, with production starting in 1935. This would be needed for aircraft in WW2. The Fischer–Tropsch process was used by the Germans during the war to produce synthetic fuel from coal.
The RAFs high-performance aircraft needed 100-octane fuel, which was only obtainable from hydrogenated fuels, such as that made at Billingham.
In WW2, atomic research under the codename Tube Alloys took place at Billingham. Plastics were also made from 1934 which were used in the construction of aircraft cockpits. The plant also made explosives all derived from ammonia. A TRIGA nuclear reactor was developed on the site from 1971 to 1988.
The two compressors were given to the Museum in the early 1970s by ICI.
 CORNISH BOILER .... The large black painted riveted Cornish boiler was made by Holman Bros in or around 1850 for Medlyn Moor Mine a mile or so up the valley from Poldark Mine and is a rare survivor of the high pressure boiler used for providing steam to Cornish Beam Engines and designed by Richard Trevithick - the only known hardware that remains from a mine in the extensive Wendron Mining District. An impressive engine house still stands on the sett about 500 yards south of the Porkellis to Carnkie road and can be reached by following the public footpath sign
 The grate front door was made by Holman Bros in 1903 for another mine being Cooks Kitchen that became part of South Crofty.
 The Morganss Patent Traversing Winding Engine is in its own shed, it was built by Holman Bros in 1898 - as a one-sixth scale prototype - its not a model as some would claim. It was sent to be exhibited in Paris at the World Trade Fair. [Paris Exposition 1900] It won a gold medal and the Holman stand won a silver medal. The original medals are on display in the museum. [They are not gold or silver but a plated base metal!!]
The later full size version of the winding engine was at Williams Shaft 3000 feet deep [the deepest in the world at the time] and was scrapped in 1926 when the mine closed. It weighed in at 150 tons and traversed 16 feet in either direction on railway lines as the cable was being wound or unwound.
The prototype engine you see here is therefore globally unique as no other was ever built, it weighs several tons. It was on display in the Holman Museum for most of its life and was often demonstrated for visitors.
In 1979 the entire Holman Museum collection was sold to Peter Young for a nominal £1 - so almost 120 years later it must be one of the longest periods that such a machine has been in a museum.
[6 & 7] Two belt-driven Tangye water pumps came from Menvagissey (not Mevagissey!) a tiny hamlet near St Agnes and were in a water pumping station for the area. We hope to get these two indoors very soon so that they can be restored and demonstrated.
 The massive 1920s (or earlier?) triple expansion reciprocating high speed Belliss & Morcom engine was built in Birmingham as No 1 of a pair at Newton Abbot Power Station for the Torquay Tramway Service - it was attached to a 200 kw DC generator. This was connected to an open 500 Volt DC Switchboard constructed on huge slate panels. This machine was removed when the station was demolished and it was presented to Poldark Mine. Continuous DC (Direct Current) supplies were maintained from the mid twenties onward by Rotary Converters until the station was decommissioned. DC was used to supply the riverside DC pumps and some station auxiliaries. There were one or two feeders to local hotels relying on the DC supplies to power lift motors. These were ceased in the mid sixties. A large brass contemporary switch room EOT (Engine Order Telegraph) can be found in the museum and came from a power station in Northern Ireland. It is stamped No 1 and was made by Chadburns who were well known for EOT machines on ships bridges.
The Power Station at Newton Abbot was decommissioned in 1974 and the steam engine was presented to Peter Young for the Museum at Poldark Mine. Its not known where the generator went, but it may be at the Science Museum
 TANGYE banjo pump by lower pond.
 Cameron Steel Plate shearing & rivet hole punching machine - by John Cameron & Co Manchester 1898 - donated by Falmouth Docks & Engineering Company
 Esso Fawley Oil Refinery Asphalt pump - steam jacket pump by Stothert & Pitt of Bath linked by double helix gearing to a high speed two cylinder steam engine by Belliss & Morcom of Birmingham - not on general view but can be viewed on request.
 Waller of Stroud steam engine - can be seen from picnic lawn but is in works yard
 WEIR PUMP - once supplied fuel oil to the burners of a set of steam boilers at a steel works in South Wales - can be seen from picnic lawn but is in works yard.
 HOLMAN Bros Steam or Air winch (at low level by mine entrance) - used at South Crofty Mine - Donated by the Holman Museum [ this is the smaller of a pair at the mine - see No 14]
 Holman Bros Steam or Air winch or winder (at high level above mine entrance) Circa 1909 used at South Crofty Tin Mine - donated by the Holman Museum - used for mine clearances in the 1970s and in the 1980s.
 Steam Locomotive - Orenstein & Koppel of Berlin 1912 - Three foot gauge 0-4-0 well tank - partly restored and in a shed - in a shed in the works yard but can been seen by arrangement. Donated by Gregg & Gillian Ryan in 2016.
 Steam Locomotive - Standard gauge 0-4-0 saddle tank - built by Peckett & Son Atlas Works Bristol 1919 for CWS Irlam margarine factory by Manchester Ship Canal - sold to Falmouth Docks in the 1950s (?) becoming a British Transport Commission asset No 1430 & was numbered as No 6 in the fleet of engines in the docks - donated to museum by Falmouth Docks and Engineering Company in 1986. Suffered the indignity of being sold off in on EBay in 2006 but was happily recovered & returned to Poldark in 2015 thanks to the trustees of the Chacewater Railway in Staffordshire. Can be seen in car park and is in need of a complete restoration, its missing parts are in store. The regular driver of No 6 at Falmouth Docks sadly passed away some years ago but his son has kept in touch.
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