Wheal Roots Workings at The Poldark Mine is the only complete tin mine in Cornwall open for underground guided tours and is generally regarded as one of the most historic locations in the annals of Cornish Mining History. It has been open for 45 years. The mine is on several levels and the guided tours by experienced Cornishmen receive many accolades for their unvarnished presentation. The real atmosphere in the Wheal Roots 18th century mine workings of The Poldark Mine is tangible, leaving a profound memory on the explorers who venture below. The mine tours encompass the 18th century mine workings of Wheal Roots which prospered during the 1700s, but can boast far earlier origins in peripheral adits and other areas of the mine that are inaccessible to visitors.
The little hamlet of Trenear is part of the village and district of Wendron near Helston. Trenear is located on the B3297 Helston to Redruth road just under 4 miles from Helston on the edge of the beautiful Lizard Peninsula. The mine is on Porkellis lane in Lower Trenear [Trenere Wolas] set below a granite escarpment in five acres of waterside country style gardens in a beautiful wooded glen on the River Cober valley floor and beside Porkellis Moor a Site of Special Scientific interest due to its biodiversity.
The workings lie below several fields that form private farmland in the village. The grounds are known as the Trenere Wolas Gardyn being the name of the location in the 1400s and before. The spelling of Gardyn is taken from middle English which was in use from circa 1100 to 1500. Wolas means lower in Cornish.
The tiny Poldark Demesne is about 230 feet above sea level in a rural farming community just 6 miles from the sea at Mounts Bay on the English Channel to the south and around 8 miles from the Atlantic Coast to the west.
Following closure in September 2013 and then bankruptcy, the well-known mine re-opened in June 2014 under new ownership with a firm policy of Cultural Heritage Management supported by volunteers and small staff team.
Wheal Roots, Hwel Roots or Huel Roots, is a tin mine known as The Poldark Mine and has a special place in the story of Cornish tin mining. Its an ancient location that is the veritable cradle of tinning in Cornwall. The mine is also a Regionally Important Geological & Geomorphological Site [RIGS] No K31 The old mine workings representing the roots of a lode. This cannot be seen anywhere else. The main stope shaft is believed to be the location of a Carbona Mass and its upper level was once worked as a Goffen Shaft in ancient times - again most unusual.
The mine & its grounds are part of the UNESCO Cornish & Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Inscription - Area 4.
A unique 4000 year old Bronze-Age Scheduled Ancient Monument - the Trenear Mortar Outcrop - sits in the riverside grounds where alluvial tin ore was processed by ancient Britons.
The Trenear Mortar Outcrop is formed from a living granite outcrop some 290 million years old. The granite here is the oldest in Cornwall being some 20 million years earlier than the remainder and is part of the Carnmenellis Pluton. This Monument Stone serves to confirm the great antiquity and national importance of the location. We call this our TIN HENGE.
The Cornish Heritage Collection was started by Peter Young in 1963 and first opened its doors to the public on June 1st 1971. It was one of the very first Industrial Heritage Museums and is the interpretation centre for the Wendron Mining District which once had over 60 mines with some 9000 people and workers at its peak. The area produced great quantities of tin, copper and other minerals. Much tin was processed at the Poldark Mine of today at the Tin Stamping Mills & tin dressing floors operated by water wheels from the 13th century until the 1870s. There was also a blowing house here, a grist mill and fish ponds too. Copper ore was handled here from Wendron Consols Mine which from 1850 was under the same ownership. Along with another mine, all three mines were linked in the workings underground. The 13th century water courses remain as does the original water wheel pit which contains a more modern 1904 wheel from Treamble Iron & Fullers Earth Mine.
Visitors travel from all corners of the globe to trace the footsteps of their ancestors and to explore the labyrinth of four levels, caverns, adits, stopes, passageways and shafts that make up this 18th century mine since it was first opened to the public in 1976.
The mine has been seen by millions all over the world due to the BBC Poldark Drama that was filmed here twice during the 1970s and in the current BBC series of Poldark. Other BBC productions have also been filmed here, such as Penmarric, BBC Childrens programmes, BBC TVs FLOG IT, and sequences in a number of documentaries.
CAMBORNE SCHOOL OF MINES at POLDARK MINE - Although Wheal Roots ceased mining over 200 years ago it continues to have a vital and active role in training mining students from all over the world for multidisciplinary mining qualifications. Cornwall continues to have a significant effect on mining throughout the world. We at the mine are pleased to be a field study location for CSM which is part of Exeter University as it furthers our educational aims and activities.
The world renowned Camborne School of Mines founded in 1888 is part of Exeter University and Poldark Mine is used by the University as a field study location for their students & postgraduates who are based at their Penryn Campus near Falmouth just 8 miles away from us.
Practical surveying using both state of the art Global Positioning System [GPS] and traditional mechanical theodiltes, applied geology, training & induction courses, together with other underground training work is carried out by postgraduates and students in the mine, usually but not exclusively outside public opening times. You may note the modern survey tags on the passageway walls and roofs throughout the workings.
GPS [originally Navstar GPS] commenced in the 1970s, is a satellite-based radionavigation system owned by the United States government and operated by the United States Air Force. The 24 or more GPS satellites circle the Earth at an altitude of about 20,000 km (12,427 miles) and complete two full orbits every day. It is a global navigation satellite system that provides geolocation and time information to a receiver anywhere on or near the Earth where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites. Obstacles such as mountains and buildings block the relatively weak GPS signals.
GPS does not require the user to transmit any data, and it operates independently of any telephonic or internet reception, though these technologies can enhance the usefulness of the GPS positioning information. The GPS provides critical positioning capabilities to military, civil, and commercial users around the world. The US government makes it freely accessible to anyone with a GPS receiver.
There are several GPS permanent markers on the surface here at Poldark Mine - see if you can spot them. The equipment used is very expensive and students get several days practical training here and at the university.
The School of Mines website explains - Based at the University’s £100 million Penryn Campus near Falmouth, the Camborne School of Mines (CSM) has an international reputation for research and teaching related to the understanding and management of the Earths natural processes, resources and the environment. We are a unique multidisciplinary department offering a range of specialised programmes, drawing upon our research expertise in mining and minerals engineering, applied geology and mineralogy, surveying and renewable energy. We offer postgraduates an outstanding research environment with state-of-the-art analytical facilities and laboratories and have excellent rates of graduate employment.
Poldark Mine has a long association with students from the CSM. Since the mine was first opened to the public 45 years ago many CSM students have worked here as volunteers and mine guides. This association has continued down the years with several former students who regularly assist and support in a variety of ways. For a number of years, our regular monthly inspections are carried out by Henderson Mines Research whose principal qualified from the CSM many years ago and who has a long association with the mine since the very early days.
The mine workings were filled with mud and rubble and much of this was cleared by volunteers many of whom were students at CSM. More recently a number of modern fire doors, windows and other items including our ticket office windows, were reclaimed from the former Camborne School of Mine premises in Pool which closed a few years ago when the campus moved to Penryn.
The mine has a number of unique features such as the Shammeling Shaft and distinctive veins of blue peach ore-bearing granite. Recently one of the professors from the Camborne School of Mines discovered that the main stope is the location of a relatively rare Carbona Mass.
Sir Neil Cossons OBE FSA FMA, the former chairman of English Heritage and current President of the Association of Independent Museums (AIM), is regarded as the leading authority on industrial heritage in Britain. He declared that Poldark Mine was One of the two most atmospheric mine tours in Europe. The other mine being the vast 14th century former Royal Salt Mine near Krakow in Poland which has been open as a state museum for many years.
Wheal Roots at Poldark Mine has been open to the public for 45 years, an incredible record that no other UK mine can equal. Literally millions of visitors have been here during those years and many millions more have seen the mine in a variety of BBC television programmes and documentaries.
Most recently and twice during the 1970s the mine has been the location for underground sequences in the two BBC Television series of Poldark! People are continuing to come here from all over the world to have a peek at this remarkable and historic mine that is described as The Jewel in the Crown of the World Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation [UNESCO] World Heritage Team.
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