In 1991 Geevor Tin Mine was finally closed after 300 years of tin mining and a final bitter struggle for survival. This was the last working mine in West Penwith in the far west of Cornwall. The site opened as a Museum and Heritage Centre in 1993 and has been managed by Pendeen Community Heritage since 2001. It is believed that the word, Geevor, is derived from the Cornish for goat.
The Museum and Heritage Centre is situated on the outskirts of Pendeen, on the coast road between Land's End and St Ives. It is the largest mining history centre in the UK and holds a unique collection of mining artefacts and mineral displays. Some of the surface buildings house the magnificent original winders and compressors. The mill is where ore was processed to produce tin concentrate. The rock was washed, crushed, separated and refined. A dark band of tin concentrate is still clearly visible on the shaking tables, some of which are more than 70 years old.
The fascinating displays in the museum contain not only mineral samples but archive photographs of the mine and miners at work. There are working models of the steam and air stamps, which were used to crush ore, and various other artefacts used and worn by the miners. Watch the film show.
Geevor is an industrial site and some of the ground is steep and uneven. It is advisable to sensible shoes, essential if taking the underground tour. Hard hats are supplied and it is necessary to wear these; parts of Wheal Mexico Mine are both narrow and low. An expert guide takes visitors into the long abandoned 18th century adit mine. The records indicate that this area was mined between 1824 and 1917, after which it was closed up, only to be reopened in the 1990s. Some of the guides are former tin miners with first hand experience.
The shop has a wide range of books about Cornwall’s mining heritage and there are various tin artefacts, pewter jewellery and other gifts and souvenirs for sale there. The café has great views over the Atlantic coast and offers drinks, cooked meals and snacks. Dogs are welcome on the site, but not on the Underground Tour.
The Geevor Museum and Heritage Centre is open daily, apart from on Saturdays, throughout the year, apart from at Christmas. Admission times vary according to the season. It is situated on the coast road between St Ives and Land’s End, close to the village of Pendeen.