Trevithick Society Publications
This is a list of Society publications currently in print in May 2021.
Mount Wellington: A Forgotten Mine by John Hurr, 2021,
170 pages Hardback £15.00 ISBN 978-1-8384245-0-3
Mount Wellington was one of four mines which opened during the short lived Cornish mining boom of the 1960s and 70s. Overshadowed by neighbour Whel Jane, its existence is now largely forgotten. John Hurr worked at Wellington as a senior manager throughout its existence and his memories help to explain the optimism and disappointment of this late chapter in the Cornish mining story.
Levant Mine: An Anthology Edited by Peter Joseph & Graham Thorne, 2019,
338 pages Hardback £35.00 ISBN 978-0-9935021-7-0 Paperback £25.00 ISBN 978-0-9935021-8-7
This volume by various hands contains a great deal of new research on the history of Levant from the earliest days to closure in 1930. It also covers the story of the preserved whim engine from its purchase in 1935 to its return to steam. There are many hitherto unseen photographs and considerable insights into the conservation of the mine site over the last 30 years.
The Notebook of a Devon Great Consols Mine
Captain: 1886 – 1900 by William Woolcock compiled by R J Stewart & R Waterhouse, 2018, 68 pages Paperback
£11.00 ISBN 978-0- 9935021-6-3
William Woolcock was working at Devon Great Consols during its years of decline. The great days of copper mining were over and the mine survived largely on sales of arsenic. He was also involved in the search for tin at depth which consumed so much time and effort to no avail. Documents such as his are rare and give valuable insight into the mine’s story. The compilers, each well versed in Tamar Valley mining, provide a detailed commentary on Woolcock’s text.
Wheal Trewavas by Peter
Joseph & Alasdair Neill, 2018, 94 pages Paperback £10.00 ISBN 978- 0-9935021-5-6
This story of a relatively unsuccessful mine, known mainly, if at all, for the dramatic siting of its engine houses, brings together the research of two authors and is published as a tribute to the late Alasdair Neill. It covers the history and archaeology of the mine and the conservation of the engine houses by the National Trust in 2008/9.
The Tavistock Canal: Its History and Archaeology by Robert Waterhouse, 2017, 538 pages, Paperback £30.00
This is the first history of the Tavistock Canal published to mark the bicentenary of its opening. The book covers the canal’s construction and operational history and includes a unique collection of detailed measured drawings recording lost and surviving structures. The canal is put into the context of the surrounding area with detailed treatment of the mines, quarries, tramways, quays and ports whose story is intertwined with that of the waterway.
Mine Pumping Engines in Eighteenth Century
Cornwall by R. J. (Rick) Stewart, 2017, 176 pages Paperback £17.50 ISBN 978-0-9935021-2-5
The published history of mine pumping in Cornwall is extensive but largely concentrates on the use of steam in the nineteenth century; the pioneers of the eighteenth century have received less attention. It is to this period that Rick Stewart has turned his attention. The book opens with a discussion of adit drainage and then the Coster family of Bristol and their water engines. The story of Newcomen engines in Cornwall from the 1710s then gives way to that of Boulton & Watt and their often acrimonious relationship with Cornish adventurers. Finally we read of Jonathan Hornblower and Edward Bull who challenged Watt’s restrictive patent. Appendices list the numerous engineers who erected engines in this early period.
The Great County
Adit by Allen Buckley, 2016, 128 pages Paperback £15.99 ISBN 978-0- 95756608-8
Allen Buckley’s history, The Great County Adit, was first published in 2000. It was the first modern study of that great co-operative venture and immediately recognised as the standard work on the subject. Unobtainable for some years, it is now reissued in a larger format with new illustrations and maps for a new generation of readers. The book covers the history of the enterprise form its eighteenth century beginnings to the present day and celebrates anew what the Mining Journal described in 1843 as the most extensive, valuable and systematic undertaking of its kind in Cornwall.
Cornwall’s Fuse Works: 1831-1961, by Diane Hodnett, with a Foreword
by Bryan Earl, 2016 238 pages Hardback £28.00 ISBN978-0-9935021-0-1 Paperback £20.00 ISBN 978-0-9935021-1-
Diane Hodnett has written the first history of this quintessential Cornish industry which spread worldwide. She tells the story of William Bick ford, inventor of the safety fuse and the epic tale of the company he founded which as Bickford Smith was a major employer in the Camborne area and had branches in countries wherever mining was significant. She tells of its assimilation into ICI and ends with the closure of the Tuckingmill factory in 1961. On the expiry of Bickford’s patent, a whole gallery of eager entrepreneurs entered the market and a rash of factories sprang up, mainly in West Cornwall; the book covers their history too. The human story of the workers and some of the dreadful accidents in the industry also has its place. Diane was the first person given access to the Bickford Smith family archive and so much new information is here published for the first time. She has also found a magnificent series of 1924 aerial photographs of the Roskear and Tuckingmill areas at English Heritage and these grace the pages of Cornwall’s Fuse Works.
Great Wheal Vor: A study of the history and working of one of the richest mines
in Cornwall, by Tony Bennett, with a foreword by Sir Tim Smit, 2015 603 pages Hardback £40.00 ISBN 978-
0- 9575660-6-4 Paperback £20.00 ISBN 978-0-9575660-7-1
Throughout much of the nineteenth century Great Wheal Vor epitomised the fortunes which could be made from Cornwall’s vast mineral wealth. Working almost continuously between 1810 and 1877, this fabulously rich mine kept going during periods of low tin prices which led to the failure of many lesser mines. Wheal Vor is also reputed to be the first Cornish mine to install a Newcomen steam pumping engine. It later became one of the leading mines in Cornwall’s industrial heyday with beam engines which outperformed their contemporaries. One of only three Cornish mines to have its own smelting works it produced up to a quarter of Cornwall’s tin from a main lode of unparalleled richness. Everything about Wheal Vor was on the grand scale. The 1850s saw an attempt to pump out and rework the mine using the “Great 100-inch Engine”, the largest ever installed in Cornwall. This venture incurred the largest ever loss in a single attempt to reopen a mine. Two further attempts at revival in the twentieth century proved equally fruitless. The story of Great Wheal Vor is one of the most important and vibrant in Cornwall’s mining history, which, perhaps because so little remains on the ground, has not hitherto received due notice. This comprehensive history by Tony Bennett puts Wheal Vor in its rightful place among the county’s mines. Perhaps too the Great Wheal Vor story is not over yet.
Wheal Basset: Five Centuries of Mining at Carnkie, by Allen Buckley, 2015 192 pages Paperback £14.99
The mines south of Carn Brea have never received the same level of attention as those to the north. Leading mining historian Allen Buckley now turns his attention to a hitherto neglected area of the Great Flat Lode with this most welcome study of the Basset Mines. Beginning with fascinating insights into the early days of mining around Carnkie, the story runs on to a full treatment of the boom years of the nineteenth century and concludes with the story of Basset Mines Ltd., one of the largest mining companies ever to work in Cornwall Their valiant struggle for survival in an increasingly hostile environment finally came to an end in 1918. The reader will also learn something of the great variety of Cornish engines in the mine and the book includes a gazetteer of what remains on the ground for those who would like to visit what remains on one of the most diverse and interesting of Cornish mining sites.
Last Great Cornish Engineer: William West of Tredenham, by John Manley, 2014 196 pages Paperback £14.99
The engineers who first developed the Cornish Engine, such as Richard Trevithick and Arthur Woolf, are comparatively well known and have been the subject of modern studies and biographies. William West (1805-1879) was a leading member of the next generation of engineers who brought the performance of the Cornish Engine to its peak and saw its use extended world- wide and into such areas as water and sewage works. The book covers episodes in West’s long and distinguished career such as the famous 1835 trial of Austen’s Engine at Fowey Consols and the pioneering installation of a sister engine at a London waterworks. Until now the only life of West was a short hagiographical Sketch published immediately after his death. John Manley’s new biography reprints the Sketch and includes a commentary based on modern research. As well as his engineering practice, West was the owner of the St Blazey Foundry, a mine adventurer, contractor, railway builder and banker. A towering presence in East Cornwall, William West now has a worthy modern biography.
Ding Dong Mine: A History, by Peter Joseph & Gerald Williams,
2014 218 pages Paperback £15.99 978-0-9575660-3-3
There are few more striking and recognisable Cornish engine houses than that situated on the Greenburrow Shaft of Ding Dong Mine. It is visible throughout West Penwith on its lofty moorland perch. In contrast the story of the ancient mine itself is relatively unknown. Now two authors, well known historians of the mines of the far west, having researched Ding Dong over some years have done its story full justice. We read that mining in the area began with small stream works in the seventeenth century and Ding Dong itself is mentioned as early as 1751. In the 1790s the mine was in the forefront of the battles between Richard Trevithick and Boulton & Watt. The mine remained a significant producer throughout the nineteenth century up to closure in 1877. In its final twenty years of operation it produced almost 3,000 tons of black tin at a value of £155,000. Ding Dong now has a full modern history as part of the Trevithick Society’s mission to extend our knowledge of hitherto neglected mines and industries in Cornwall
Camborne School of Mines: A History of Mining Education in Cornwall, by
Lawrence P S Piper, 2013 439 pages Hardback £15.00 978-0-9575660-0-2
As far back as the late eighteenth century with a proposal to create a Cornish Mining Society, followed by John Taylor’s 1829 Prospectus for a School of Mines in Cornwall, there were those who sought to formalise mining education and training. The 1891 Technical Instruction Act led to action by Cornwall County Council and the establishment of Mining Schools at Camborne, Penzance and Redruth. These three were merged in 1909 into one School of Metalliferous Mining at Camborne. All this is covered in Lawrence Piper’s magisterial survey published to mark the 125th anniversary of CSM in 2013. His book takes the story up to 2004 at the end of CSM’s first decade as Part of the University of Exeter. This is no dry tale of academic history; the social side of the School of Mines is also given its due in a well-deserved volume on a great Cornish institution which continues to flourish.
From Holman Brothers to CompAir, by Clive Carter & Peter Joseph, 2012
Paperback 342 pages £18.50 978-0-904040-94-4
This book had its genesis in Cornish Engineering: 1801-2001, a centenary history of Holman Brothers the great Cornish engineering company based in Camborne. After the closure of the company the Trevithick Society found itself the custodian of a large Holman archive and it was clear there was scope for a much revised and enlarged edition using the new material. Mining historian Peter Joseph prepared the new edition; this brought the story up to date and appeared in 2012. It very soon sold out, being the Christmas present of choice for males of a certain age in Camborne, and was immediately reprinted. The book also covered the stories of related companies, Climax, BroomWade and Reavell, and had chapters on the choirs and sports clubs. It has hundreds of photographs, many never previously published, and reproductions of the paintings and pencil sketches by Terence Cuneo from Holman’s privately published 1951 history.
Levant: A Champion Cornish Mine, by John Corin & Peter Joseph, 2013,
reprinted 2016 Paperback 128 pages £10.99 978-0-904040-96-8
Levant is one of the great Cornish mines. Its long history, rugged location on Atlantic cliffs and its undersea workings give its history a very special quality. John Corin’s history, Levant: A Champion Cornish Mine, was first published in 1992; it went through a number of revisions and new editions, staying in print continuously to 2010. It appeared at just the right time. A number of volunteers were beginning to see how the site at Levant could be made more accessible and interesting to visitors and so successive editions covered visual restoration of the surviving beam engine, the new boiler house and the engine’s return to steam. More recently the combined efforts of the National Trust and Trevithick Society have resulted in a greater appreciation of the site as a whole and the emergence of new information. The time was ripe for a completely new edition with new colour photographs and a self-guided walk. This new edition has proved immensely popular, serving as guidebook and accessible history.
So Very Foolish: A History of the Wherry Mine, Penzance, by Peter
Joseph, 2012 Paperback 44 pages £4.99 978-0-904040-95-1
Through the long history of Cornish mining mineral extraction has taken place in some remarkable locations but none was more peculiar than the Wherry Mine at Penzance. The mine’s shafts were located some 200 yards offshore in Mounts Bay and linked by a timber trestle to the machinery on dry land. In consequence the Wherry Mine bore more resemblance to a seaside pier than a working mine. The unique nature of the mine workings meant that contemporary travellers noted and visited Wherry Mine and some recorded their impressions. The mine worked sporadically during the eighteenth century but closed around 1800; attempts at reworking in the nineteenth came to very little. Peter Joseph, in this small booklet, has done well to ferret out the story of this extraordinary venture. Incredibly prospecting of the Wherry lodes, using a similar pier and drilling rig, took place as recently as 1967.
The History and Progress of Mining in the Liskeard and Caradon District, 1863 by Webb & Geach,
2011 Paperback 158 pages £5.00 978-0-904040-88-3
When Peter Clymo and his fellow adventurers struck copper at South Caradon in 1837, they began a mining bonanza which made fortunes for some and changed the local landscape utterly. Yet in less than half a century mining on any scale had ceased completely, never to resume. William Webb and Edward Geach published their History and Progress of Mining in the Caradon and Liskeard Districts in 1862. It was the height of the boom and a new edition appeared the following year. It gives a unique insight into mining locally but it should be treated with a little caution. It was aimed at shareholders and investors and, in consequence, few critical words are to be found within nor any mention of failure. Nonetheless it gives a unique flavour of a mining bonanza, the more poignant in that within three years a financial crisis would mark the beginning of the end for Cornish copper. This reprint includes the whole text of the 1863 edition with interleaved commentary by John Manley, local mining historian. John also includes modern colour photographs and guidance on the remaining industrial archaeology.
Mechanical Methods of Dressing of Tin Ores, 1858 by Leon Moissenet, Translated by Tony
Clarke, 2010 173 pages Hardback £10.00
Many visited the mines of Cornwall in the nineteenth century and a number recorded their impressions. The majority, it is fair to say, took an academic or amateur interest in what they saw. Visitors who described the processes they saw with a professional or technical knowledge were far less common. One such was Leon Moissenet, who at the time of his visit was still a student at the Ecole des Mines in France. His Excursion in Cornwall was published in 1858 when he was 27 years old and was an immensely detailed description of contemporary mineral dressing in Cornwall. His text never appeared in English until Tony Clarke, himself a mineral processing specialist, came upon it and set about making a translation. This duly appeared in 2010 and is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand mechanical dressing of ores in the great days of Cornish mining.
Marconi at The Lizard, by Courtney Rowe 2018 83 pages Paperback £9.99 978-0904040-80-1
The Lizard is a most distinctive part of Cornwall and in the late nineteenth century was a relatively remote area where people earned a living by farming and fishing. In 1901 radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi arrived in the area and opened his first radio station at Housel Bay. This was used for ship to shore wireless telegraphy and closed in 1920. In 2000 it was restored to its original form by the National Trust. The later, better known Marconi station at Poldhu, was constructed simultaneously with the Lizard station; this also opened in 1901 and transmitted the first transatlantic signal in December that year. Poldhu closed in 1933. Courtney Rowe’s book was published in 2000 and has been in print ever since. Here the reader will find the story of Marconi in Cornwall but also details of the Lizard lighthouse, undersea telegraph cables, the Lloyds Signal Station, an electric bell on the sea bed and some of the wartime installations. It is a reminder of Cornwall’s pivotal role in early cable and wireless communication.
Tin and Diamonds: A Life of Francis Oats by Claire Leith,
2009 106 pages £4.99 Paperback 978-0-904040-74-6
The story of Francis Oats is one which would have sat easily in Samuel Smiles great doctrine of Self-Help. Oats was born in Golant in 1848 but brought up in the mining town of St. Just-in- Penwith, an area with which he will always be associated. In 1862 he began work at Balleswidden Mine, moving to Botallack in the 1850s. By the age of 23 he was a mine captain there but in 1874 he left Cornwall for South Africa. A return home in 1877 proved short lived and, soon after returning to the Cape, he became Engineer at the great Kimberley Mine. This was taken over by De Beers and by 1888 he was a director of that company, becoming Chairman in 1908. He sat in the Cape Parliament from 1898 to 1907 and knew all the key players in South Africa during those difficult years. In the 1890s he bought land from Lord Falmouth at Cape Cornwall; there he built his great house, Porthledden, which still stands. Oats remained deeply involved in the mines of St Just, notably Botallack and Levant but he died at Port Elizabeth in 1918 and was buried there. Claire Leith was his granddaughter and her affectionate life of Francis Oats captures perfectly the society in which he grew and prospered. Sadly Claire died in July 2014 at the age of 92.
Explosives by Bryan Earl, 2006 Hardback 365 pages £15.00 978-9040440-68-5
This is a standard work which will never be superseded by an explosives expert. It was only natural that a hard rock mining area such as Cornwall would see the establishment of an explosives industry. Bryan’s survey takes us through the years of gunpowder and the many works which supplied it. We learn too of the invention by William Bickford of safety fuze and then the gradual development and introduction of high explosives in the mining industry. The large works, National at Hayle and British & Colonial at Perranporth receive full coverage and the story comes right up to the present day with information on modern techniques. Those who seek detailed technical information will not be disappointed but the general reader will find a rollicking good tale with much humour and personal interest.
Drawings of the Levant Whim by Courtney Rowe, 1998 Paperback 79
pages £6.99 978-0- 904040-44-5
One of the great achievements of the Trevithick Society and its members has been the visual restoration and ultimate return to steam of the 1840 Harvey built 27” rotary winding engine at Levant. Many contributed to this project which had the full support of the National Trust. Courtney Rowe was a member of the original “Greasy Gang” at Levant, led by the redoubtable Milton Thomas. As the engine was gradually dismantled throughout the restoration progress, Courtney Rowe took very detailed measurements and produced a set of drawings. These were first published in the Journal of the Trevithick Society and then as a book. This book still sells steadily to model engineers and to those who wish to understand in more detail just how that wonderful beast the Cornish Engine fits together.