Cornwall’s mining heritage isn’t just the cultural backbone of the county, but is globally recognised as an engineering tour de force and claims status as the UK’s largest industrial UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The engine houses that remain from this poignant period in Cornwall’s history are scattered across the landscape alongside an array of monuments, standing stones and megaliths, giving visitors oodles to see as they explore the myriad landmarks that make Cornwall’s sense of place that much more magically unique.
Here’s some of Cornwall’s must-see engine houses and where to find them...
Presiding over the ocean near St Agnes on Cornwall’s rugged north coast, Wheal Coates is reached via foot from the coast path or nearby National Trust car park, which comes complete with a picnic area. The engine house is also located at an accredited Dark Sky Discovery Site, affording prime star gazing turf.
Located near Rosemergy in the St Just area of the World Heritage Site, Carn Galver’s crumbling structure sits along the coast road toward Zennor in far west Penwith, so called after the nearby hilltop of the same name meaning, ‘rockpile at the lookout place.’ The area is awash with incredible Atlantic views and walks.
Sitting on the south coast overlooking Rinsey between Porthleven and Praa Sands, Wheal Prosper stakes claim to one of the prettiest coastal locations while remaining impressively intact, and has been given heritage protection as a Scheduled Monument.
One of west Cornwall’s most renowned engine houses, Botallack is a former submarine mine whose tunnels stretch under the sea. The Crowns engine houses cling to the cliffside and can be (carefully) explored on foot, being situated on the South West Coast Path should you wish to roam further afield.
Sitting just south of Botallack, Wheal Owles comprises the remnants of four engine houses along with a series of smaller workings, and was the filming location Wheal Leisure mine during the most recent TV adaptation of Poldark.
Another part of west Cornwall’s famed Tin Coast, Levant Mine and Beam Engine can be found high on the cliffs on this jaw-dropping section of World Heritage Site. Here you’ll also find a visitor centre and underground tour, along with a network of picturesque walking paths.
The sprawling 19-acre site is home to a free visitor attraction set in the centre of Cornwall’s World Heritage Mining in Redruth. Built at South Crofty mine’s Robinson Shaft, the ‘cultural candy’ here presents everything from a mining museum and exhibition to diaspora gardens, huge kids adventure playscape, cafe and indoor soft play area.
Completing St Just’s impressive tally of tin and copper mines, Geevor is the country’s largest preserved mining site and is celebrated with a museum and heritage centre that offers underground tours of Wheal Mexico mine along with access to buildings including the Winder and Compressor Houses. You can even have a go at mineral panning and keep the gems that you find.