Levant Tin Mine, Trewellard, St Just, Cornwall
Situated about half way between St Just and St Ives on the B3306 close to Pendeen village is the remains of the Levant Tin Mine and the Levant Steam Engine.
Firstly, when you arrive you will notice you are atop a cliff and the views around are stunning. If you look to your right as you look out to sea you can see the Pendeen lighthouse, then closer still you can see Geevor Tin Mine.
Although many of the buildings on the site where destroyed many years ago when the buildings where blown up so that scrap metal merchants could get to the iron steam machinery inside, the original engine house and steam engine have been rebuilt and are now the main exhibit on the site.
There are other structures on the site which house the original mine shaft and a copy of the old steam boiler house but these have limited appeal as there are only so many minutes you can find looking down a hole interesting.
The building which houses the steam engine contains many pictures and stories of the mine and the people who worked there, but at a quarter to the hour the steam engine is set running for all to see. The engine fills almost all the building and you can walk right round and upstairs looking at the engine as guard rails cover the engine to prevent you touching it.
The engine for me was the best part of the mine as this is one of the oldest beam engines in the UK and when its working its burbling and swishing noises as well as the clicking of bearing oilers which constantly supply oil to the engines wheels and push rods, sounds fill the room. This coupled with the heat of the boiler is an amazing sight, sound and feeling.
Levant Tin mine itself is now nearly all flooded and therefore inaccessible but maps of the mine give you some idea of the scale in which tin was mined here. The mine goes down 260+ fathoms (1 fathom equals 6 feet) and stretches over 1.5 miles under/out the sea.
At levant tin mine you can also see and the guide will also show you pictures of the man engine lift which the miners used to get down into the mine. The man lift is a device where a miner stands on a platform atop a 12ft beam, this beam then descends on the down stroke of the engine above. Once down 12ft he would then step off this platform on to a fixed platform before waiting for the next platform to rise, he would then step onto this platform and descend a further 12ft into the mine.
The lift was installed to speed up the delivery of miners to the pit face as previously the miners would have to climb down ladders before work and up after work. This was a massive waste of time as the miners would typically take over 1 hour to descend into the mine. The new lift took just 30 minutes.
The mine has a guided tour which starts on the hour and takes approximately 45 minutes and ends in the running of the steam engine for 10 minutes. Both of the guides we spoke to knew lots about both the engine and the history of the mine. One of the workers had helped to rebuild the engine and was now responsible for its everyday maintenance and another had lived in the adjoining village her entire life.
As this is one of the National Trusts ongoing properties there presently isn’t enough to keep you amused all day long but hopefully time and money will remedy this.
Prices for the Levant Mine are £4 for adults and £10 for a family ticket. At present there are only very limited toilet facilities, there is also no café or restaurant however the Geevor mine and the local village both have decent facilities.
This is an excellent look at the an olde world steam engine and mine workings which offer an excellent insight into a Cornish Tin Mine life, however I would expect the price to be slightly lower for this attraction.
The Geevor Tin Mine (http://www.geevor.co.uk) is just up the road and offers the chance to look inside a tin mine but doesn´t have a steam engine. So the choice is yours, inside a tin mine or a steam engine and history. Personally I’d choose the later.
I would be interested to visit Levant tin mine again in the future, maybe in 10 or 15 years time to see if more of the buildings have been restored and there is more to do.
Please note that due to the nature of the site there is very limited access for the disabled. The entire site is built on a hill with steps everywhere.
Levant Steam Engine,
nr St Just
01736 786156 (Opening hours only)
Levant tin mine update visits
Update: 30th September 2008
Today my wife and I have been again to Levant and I am very surprised at the changes made to mine site, we have seen the changes on numerous visits to the site but we havent bothered to visit again until today.
The site has changed a bit from above and most is now self guided with a few extra bits. The site when we first visited was just the engine house, thats it – but that was a number of years ago. Today the site is split into an entrance room, with the entrance desk and the usual National Trust tatt. From there there is a small court yard where you can view the two shafts and look down into the mine, you wont see much as both are very deep. Also there is a small shed here which houses a TV/DVD player which plays a pretty informative film about the mine, the area and the history. Choose a warm day or by the end of the day you ll be frozen. Me and the wife where sat by the door and the wind was howling in, being in shorts I paid the price… Cold legs. Watch the film its really interesting and shows images of down inside Levant tin mine.
Next is the engine house, we got there just as they where running the engine, check the national trust website for the days the engine is in steam as its not always running. I think watching it run gives a much more interesting experience and the engine driver was very keen to give information to anyone keen to listen.
Again, its very interesting and well worth a visit to Levant tin mine with prices not too expensive for the National Trust.