Tin and copper have been mined in this region for generations. The mine at Levant was first opened in 1820. By 1836, 320 men, 44 women and 186 children were employed on the site. Levant was famed for it’s mine workings that extend more than a mile under the sea bed. It later became know for the man engine disaster in 1919 in which 31 men were killed. The man engine carried the miners 600m underground. It saved them many hours and the effort of climbing ladders to cover the considerable distance. Following the accident, the mine went into decline and was closed in 1930.
Gladly, that’s not the only legacy of Levant. People from around the world come here to see the only steam powered beam engine in it’s original position. Designed by Francis Mitchell and built in 1840 by Harvey’s of Hayle, the 27 inch winding engine raised tin and copper ores for 90 years until the mine closed in 1930. You can find out more about the engine and how it works in Grace’s Guide to British Industrial You can see a video of the beam engine in operation here.
There are guided tours of the site and the engine steams every 15 minutes. Eldest got chance to operate the engine when we visited. Other highlights include; the dry (the miners changing area), the underground tunnel leading to the site of the old man engine, and a view down a very deep shaft! There is also a 1 km walk taking in the ruined surface workings and beautiful coastal views. A part of Cornish history not to be missed.
Restored after 60 idle years by a group of volunteers known as the ‘Greasy Gang’, it is a thrilling experience for young and old alike to see this old engine in action, with its evocative sounds and smells.
National Trust Website