Porthtowan Minehouses

March 14, 2016 by becca.lazar No Comments

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You might find it hard to believe, but spring is just around the corner. Despite the mild chill that’s still in the air, we’ve already been taking advantage of the bright sunny days that are being sent our way. Last weekend, when the grey clouds lifted we took ourselves to Porthtowan, a small town nestled within some of the most stunning coastline that our fine county has to offer.

The remains of the mining industry dot the landscape as you drive towards Porthtowan. Like scars on the landscape, chimneys stand like bare trees on the hillsides. It’s an area steeped in mining heritage.

 

Porthtowan itself fighting against the tumbling dunes that continually blow through the town. As we got closer to the car park we found half the road and pavement completely covered with sand. It’s all part of its charm.

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On the beach families and dog walkers stretched their legs and splashed around in the sand.
But our mission wasn’t to stroll on the beach. We we’re heading East, up the steep assent from the beach and onto the coastal path.

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As we came to the brow of the next headland and stood high above Chapel Porth beach, the reason for our visit made itself known above.
The remains of Wheal Coates, or more accurately Towanroath engine house, will be familiar as the image that graces a thousand postcards, but nothing beats the real thing.
Wheal Coates mine was opened in 1802 and miners worked in its tunnels up to 1889. Towanroath Engine House was built in 1872 to drain the seeping sea water from the 600 feet deep mine shaft.
What if this was the view from your work window?
In reality, the 138 men of the mine were working in tough conditions. The fragile mineshafts extended far beyond the shore line. As storms raged, miners could hear huge boulders being dragged across the seabed which was only feet above their heads.

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Next, we took a short scramble up the hill to two more engine houses: the Stamps and Whim engine houses. They were used to hoist and crush tin ore from the shaft below. As you walk around this site the remains of an old boiler pond can be seen. There’s also a calciner, where the ore was roasted at hight temperatures to drive out impurities – in this case arsenic.
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As we turned around to head back to Porthtowan we caught sight of the ocean spray rising over the coastline (and met a friendly dog bounding towards us.
On our return we tumbled into Porthtowan’s famous Blue Bar for a much needed refreshment. Roll on the rest of spring!

 

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