Trewellard, Pendeen, St. Just, TR19 7SX
Tel: (01736) 786156
Cliff-top mine that reached out under the sea
After 60 idle years, the oldest beam engine in Cornwall is steaming again. Built in 1840, the 27 inch whim engine hoisted ore from the famous Levant mine, one of the great names in Cornish history. In its original engine house - perched on the cliff edge - the sights, sounds and smells of the working engine make a visit to Levant an unforgettable experience.
The mine was established in 1820 and by 1836 over 500 people were employed here. The mine reached a depth of about 600 yards and ran out over a mile under the sea. In 1857 the now-infamous man engine was installed. This engine carried men many fathoms up and down the mine to and from work each day. Until 1919 when 31 lives were lost when main rod of man-engine broke. By 1930 the mine experienced a steady decline and the mine closed.
The engine also has a national claim to fame. It was Britain's first beam engine preserved on its working site by private individuals. That was in 1935, five years after the mine closed, and led to the formation of the Cornish Engine Preservation Society. Today the engine is owned by the National Trust having been handed over in 1967.
The engine house was restored by the National Trust, whilst the engine itself was put back into running order by a group of Trevithick Society members (known as the Greasy Gang) over the years 1984 to 1992. In 1990 the National Trust and the Trevithick Society jointly launched the Levant Beam Engine Appeal to raise a sum of £128,000 required to complete the restoration and to provide a means of steaming. Using the funds obtained the National Trust re-built the ruined boiler house and installed a generator of electricity and an oil-fired boiler. An old Cornish boiler was obtained and installed in a non-working manner to show how steam was raised before. The engine first ran again in steam in 1992, and since then it has been steamed for several months each year for visitors to see how the engine once looked and operated.
You can take a short underground tour through the miners' dry tunnel, and the winding and pumping shafts are also on view, as is a restored electric winding engine. A film tells the story of Levant mine and the miners who worked here. A short walk along the cliff-path will take you to Botallack Mine (NT), with its famous cliff-clinging engine houses and historical displays in the Count House Workshop; in the other direction is Geevor Mine (not NT) and a mining museum.
During 2015 the mine was used as a film set for the new series of Poldark.
On the 20th October 2019 the graves of fifteen men were restored as part of the centenary commemorations of the Cornish mining disaster at Levant Mine in 1919.
Follow the signs from the B3306, the St. Just to Zennor road, one mile west of Pendeen.
Easter, May and Spring Bank Holidays: Sunday & Monday
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South Crofty Mine National Trust Properties Zennor Mining in Cornwall