Wheal Coates

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Wheal Coates
Tin mine near St Agnes 2.JPG
Towanroath Shaft
Pumping Engine House
Wheal Coates is located in Cornwall
Wheal Coates
Wheal Coates
Location in Cornwall
LocationSt Agnes
Coordinates50°18′14″N 5°13′55″W / 50.304°N 5.232°W / 50.304; -5.232Coordinates: 50°18′14″N 5°13′55″W / 50.304°N 5.232°W / 50.304; -5.232
Closed1889 (reworked 1911-1913)

Wheal Coates is a former tin mine situated on the north coast of Cornwall, UK, on the cliff tops between Porthtowan and St Agnes. It is preserved and maintained by the National Trust.[1][2]


Earliest records indicate a mine at the site since 1692.[3][4] The present mine opened in 1802 and was closed in 1889 when the price of tin fell.[4][2] It came into full production in 1815.[3] Flooding and bringing ore to the surface were the main problems of the mine until steam-driven equipment was available, as the mine's underground operations extended for some distance under the sea.[4][5] The mine was sold in 1844 and thereafter allowed to flood. A new owner reopened the mine in 1872 but work was sporadic until its 1889 closure.[4][2] For some years, the yield was 20lb of tin per ton of ore.[5] In 1906, new ownership hoped to work the mine for both tin and copper. Wheal Coates [a] had produced a small amount of copper ore, more than a century earlier.[5][8]

At the height of its production, 140 people were employed at the site[2] to mine a seam of tin just below sea level but this and a subsequent period of operation from 1911-1913[9][10] were not very successful because tin production was sporadic.[4][b] The mine was closed for good in 1914,[11]

Present day[edit]

The surviving buildings date from the 1870s when deep underground mining began at the site[3] and were stabilised and preserved in 1986.[12] There are three engine houses that formerly housed Cornish engines. Towanroath Pumping Engine House (1872) was used to pump water from the adjacent 600 ft Towanroath shaft.[4] There are two Whim engine houses which were used to crush ore for processing. "Old Whim" was built in the mid 19th century, while "New Whim" was built in the late 19th century.[13] A calciner dating from 1910–1913 when the mine was reopened, roasted the tin to remove impurities such as arsenic.[2]

The surviving structures were all listed as Grade II buildings on 31 October 1988: The Stamps House,[14] the chimney east of the New Whim engine house,[15] the Old Whim and New Whim engine houses,[13] the Towanroath engine house,[16] and the calciner.[17] Wheal Coates is part of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site.[18]


  1. ^ ‘Wheal’ is Cornish for ‘place of work’ or 'mine'.[6] Another term for 'mine' is 'bal', as in 'bal maidens', the women who worked on the surface.[7]
  2. ^ Some local people continue to believe there are rich tin ore deposits remaining in the area surrounding Wheal Coates.[4]


  1. ^ "St Agnes and Chapel Porth - Visitor information". National Trust. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Wheal Coates Mine - St Agnes (SW699500), Mining in Cornwall". Cornwalls.co.uk. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
  3. ^ a b c "St Agnes: A diamond in Cornwall's mining crown" (PDF). Cornish Mining World Heritage. pp. 1–6. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Kent & Kent 2008, p. 63.
  5. ^ a b c Mining and Scientific Press 1906, p. 736.
  6. ^ Jago 1882, p. 309.
  7. ^ Jago 1882, p. 111.
  8. ^ "Wheal Coates". Northern Mine Research Society. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  9. ^ The Mining Magazine 1911, p. 274.
  10. ^ The Mining Magazine 1912, pp. 261-262.
  11. ^ Ashley 2008, p. 204.
  12. ^ "Wheal Coates Tin Mine". Cornwall Guide Online. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  13. ^ a b "Old Whim and New Whim". Historic England.co.uk. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  14. ^ "Stamps House at Wheal Coates". Historic England.co.uk. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  15. ^ "Chimney Immediately East of New Whim". Historic England.co.uk. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  16. ^ "Towanroath Engine House". Historic England.co.uk. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  17. ^ "Calciner Immediately North of the STamps House". Historic England.co.uk. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  18. ^ "St Agnes Mining District". Cornish Mining World Heritage. Retrieved 13 August 2016.


External links[edit]