Geevor Tin Mine, Pendeen, Penzance, Cornwall
So you´re on a visit to Cornwall and you want to see a working tin mine or if not working, as near to working as possible.
Then Geevor Tin mine is one of these places.
Geevor was one of the last Tin Mines to close in Cornwall, in fact it closed in 1990 as a working mine, and as such most of the site and machinery are still intact at the site. The site has now been turned into a museum so you can not only go inside a tin mine but also see the machinery used to process the ore, the raw material, in to tin.
The site is situated in the village of Pendeen, 7 miles west of Penzance on the B3306, you should come to the entrance which is quite large so its difficult to miss. In fact you´d have to be driving with your eyes shut to miss it! You can click here for a map of the area and here for bus timetables.
Beware the site entrance road is not quite up to B road standards and is poorly maintained and quite bumpy, I am guessing that this is like this because its too expensive for the mine to resurface or as an additional safety feature to keep speeds down. Whichever, drive slowly, its quite bumpy.
Once on the site the first thing that greets you is the view, you get a view of the mine, the processing sheds and other out buildings, but the most amazing thing is that the mine is on the top of a cliff and you can see all the way down to the sea. You can even see across to the Pendeen Light house!
The museum and mine trip at first might seem expensive at £7.50 for Adults, £4.50 for Children and £7.00 for Senior citizens but a family ticket can be purchased for £22.00 (Family ticket is for 2 adults and 2-3 children) but I can assure you the price is worth it.
Note: Groups of 10 or more receive a 10% discount, Free admission is also available to members of Pendeen Community Heritage, the Trevithick Society, the Museums Association and Blue Peter badge holders! (Do they still give these out?). There is a 10% discount for those accompanying PCH members, and members of mining history societies affiliated to NAMHO (the National Association of Mining Historical Organisations).
Once your inside and you´ve paid, pick up a hardhat as you are required to wear it at all times during your visit.
Then first enter the museum, the first rooms you visit are the Mining Museum rooms. These contain mining artifacts from all aspects of mining, as well as a 3D layout of the mine tunnels in Cornwall and a history of Cornwall during the First and Second World War. There are a few other bits to the museum but I´ll leave you to find out about these. As you´ll have nothing to look forward to otherwise.
If you leave the museum area, you can walk around the Geevor mine site, which is home to the winding station, the miners locker room and the site safety rooms as well as the old workshops and mine trains. There is more here than it sounds but there are some interesting things to see, especially in the winding room and miner locker rooms. Beware of the rubber dogs though!
When you bought your tickets you would have been given the times of the tours for the material processing plant and mines. When you´ve had enough of walking around the outbuildings you can make your way to the processing room entrance where you will be met and instructed by one of the site guides.
The tours first start with a safety chat which lasts a few minutes then you will be shown the materials as they would have been brought to the surface from the mine and how they would have looked at specific stages during processing.
The tour then starts. As the mine is built on a hillside and the entrance is at the top all the tour is down hill, but don´t think its easy as some of the stair cases leading down are quite tricky to navigate, so take care!
The tour leads you down through the processing shed and the guide will stop every so often and explain about the machinery at this stop. Some of the machinery is missing as when the mine closed the machines where removed due to their high scrap metal value, but there a quite a few machines remaining, enough to make the tour interesting anyway.
One thing you will notice about the processing shed is the abundance of wood beams, supports and machinery. If you go anywhere where ore is processing you will find an abundance of wood, as due to the materials produced and the fluids used, this makes steel rust very quickly, hence all the wood.
The tours of the processing part of the site take about 30 minutes and then you are lead back outside where the second part of the tour begins.
The mine tour.
The mine used for the tour is one of the older mines on the site and some bits of the inside have been made wider for us tourist to get inside, so its not really a proper mine. The guide will inform you of certain stories or bits of information along the way, until the mine tour ends.
The only bad part of the tour now becomes apparent. What goes down must now come back up and its quite a steep slope back to the top of the site. If you´re elderly, unfit or ill then I´d recommend taking your time.
The guides at Geevor where excellent, making sure everybody was together before explaining the processes of the mine and at all times making sure everybody was safe.
The restaurant was good value for money and we enjoyed one of the many clotted cream teas here which cost us just £5.20. One of the cheapest we found. They also do other meals at the restaurant which where all reasonably priced.
To sum up Geevor Tin Mine, I was shocked at first when I found out the price, but thought what the hell, its not everyday you can go somewhere like this. However I was pleasantly surprised at how much there was to see and do and how much I enjoyed the mine and processing tour and I would go again next time I´m in Cornwall.
Additional: Sept 2007
We have just come back from another holiday in Cornwall and on a less than sunny day we went to Geevor again, initially just for something to eat but ended up doing the tour again.
I am still super impressed with this place and despite lots of building work going on the tour was again superb. There are a few more exhibits than I remember from last time and once the building work has finished I am sure this will be even better.
The building work is because they have received a grant from the National Lottery Heritage fund and they are expanding the museum with the money received.
For those thinking this attraction is expensive then you do not have to do the underground tour and the entry price is then £4.50 per adult (dont know the child price as I dont have kids), however the mine tour is well worth it.
The mine are also looking opening the deep mine workings to the public and have a petition going, if your passing stop and get your name down as I am sure if they opened the deep workings this would be a superb place to visit.
Additional: March 2008
The mine has received £3.8 million from the Heritage Lottery fund and is undergoing a major transformation. There is lots of building work going on at the site and there will be new exhibitions opening once this work is completed. There was new areas open when we went in March and if your going to visit now I would take a good pair of shoes as it took me and the wife over 3 hours to walk round and we didnt look at everything. Well worth a visit now.