Botallack

Dusk at the Crowns engine house
Dusk at the Crowns engine house

Life in Botallack is a little different to how it was a century ago when it was one of the centres of the mining industry. Located on the north coast of the far west of Cornwall a between St Just and Pendeen, this area is littered with the remains of the once great mining industry.

Perhaps the best known of the eleven engines of the Botallack mines are the Crowns engine houses, now protected as part of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site. The Crowns were built around 1815 to pump water and allow submarine mining, or mining under the sea bed. 7 by 4 feet tunnels were cut over a mile out under the sea where there was a rich copper lode, the shafts were sunk to a depth of 350 fathoms. In Botallack's heyday around 500 men, women and children were employed by the mine. Between its opening and decommissioning in 1904 some 20 thousand tons of copper were produced.

At the height of the mining boom there were no shortage of esteemed visitors to Botallack. Wilkie Collins recounts his 1851 visit and tour of the mine in Rambles Beyond Railways and the coastline inspired the story Deep Down by R.M. Ballantyne.
The nobility visited as well, with 12 year old Prince Arthur taking the underground tour in 1862 and Lady Falmouth the following year.