The Count House and Mine Captain's House, Buller Downs, Redruth, Cornwall
An illustrated account of its history and preservation
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A brief history of the mine

Wheal Buller was formed out of the neighbouring workings of Trewirgie Downs and Wheal Beauchamp, enabling underground access to one mile of some of the richest copper lodes in Cornwall. The mine commenced work in 1819 when it produced 11 tons of ore and by 1825 had achieved its maximum ore production level of 6,230 tons. By 1836 production had fallen so low that further work was abandoned and the mine closed.

In 1848 the mine reopened with new workings to the north and west and by 1853 its monthly profits had risen to 5,170. Up until this time the ore had been raised by horse whim but during 1851 a steam-powered winding engine was installed, with two more engines the following year, one being purchased from Harvey's of Hayle.

By 1856 Wheal Buller was able to pay the highest dividend to its shareholders of any mine in the county. This was however short-lived since the dramatic rise in production levels of 1853 was matched by an equally dramatic decline in 1868. Between 1862 and 1868 an attempt was made to avert this decline with the sinking of two new shafts, concentrating on the production of tin ore from 1859 to 1875. Failure to locate sufficiently rich new reserves forced the sale of the mine's equipment and it ceased operation in 1875. A subsequent reworking of Hocking's Shaft between 1928 and 1930, during which it was deepened by a further one thousand feet, proved unsuccessful and Wheal Buller was once again abandoned.

Between 1819 and 1875 Wheal Buller produced 141,707 tons of copper ore and between 1859 and 1875, 1,373 tons of black tin.

The site was surveyed by Cornwall Archaeological Unit in 1997-98 in advance of a shaft capping scheme by Kerrier District Council. Extant features included remains of a probable engine house wall at Davey's Shaft, an arched tunnel which possibly carried water from here to processing areas downslope, and walling at Whitford's Shaft associated with flat-rods coming from Davey's Shaft, forming part of the flat-rod angle-bob pit.

Sources

Dines, H G, 1956
The Metalliferous Mining Region of South-West England, 358

Brooke, J, 1976
"Wheal Buller", Journal of the Trevithick Society, No 4, 65-72

Morrison, T A, 1983
Cornwall's Central Mines: The Southern District, 1810-1895, 335-350

Lawson-Jones, A, 1998
A Report to Kerrier District Council Derelict Land Grant Scheme: Wheal Buller
Cornwall Archaeological Unit, Cornwall County Council

Historic Environment Service, Cornwall County Council, 2003
Cornwall and Scilly Historic Environment Record, PRN 40298