Former copper and arsenic mine
Danescombe Mine is a former copper and arsenic mine, which was worked on and off throughout the 19th century. Its beginnings are obscure, but it was working before 1837 when it was restarted under leases granted by Lord Ashburton and the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe. This company was wound up in 1842 and the 30-inch pumping engine was sold to the South Hooe lead mine on the other side of the river, and the steam whim to Marke Valley in Linkinhorne.
There were further operations at the mine and the closely related Wheal Calstock mine between 1846 and 1868, the company's name being changed to Calstock Consols in 1850. The machinery was sold off in 1872. Then the mine was restarted again in 1888 and both copper and arsenic were produced. After 1900 production ceased, though there was some later prospecting in the valley.
The varying fortunes of the Danescombe mine and the replacement of copper by arsenic as the main product were the result not only of the unpredictability of mining, but also of the changing economic situation. Copper mining was rendered unprofitable in Cornwall by the discovery of deposits in Cube, South Australia, Chile and then Michigan, culminating in the great copper slump of 1866-8. Tin became the mainstay of Cornish mining after copper declined, but the opening-up of the Australian tin deposits brought about a slump in the 1870s. The subsequent opening of mines in the Malay states and in Bolivia after 1900 further injured the Cornish tin mines. In 1891 there were 6,156 men and boys classed as miners in Cornwall; seven years later this number was 2,749. Thus the events in Danescombe are representative of the experience at all Cornish mines. Even today, the decline of the world tin price can make Cornish tin uneconomic to mine and thus what was once the country's main industry is virtually extinct.
For a short history of Danescombe Mine please click here.
To read the full history album for Danescombe Mine please click here.
To download the children's Explorer pack for Danescombe Mine please click here.
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Monday 13th February 2014