Conservation work commences at Wheal Busy

Located on the outskirts of the village of Chacewater near Truro, Wheal Busy forms part of the A6 area of the World Heritage Site – the Gwennap Mining District with Devoran, Perran and Kennall Vale – through its links to tin, copper, and later arsenic production during the eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries. The mining of metalliferous minerals in the area around Chacewater dates from the later seventeenth century however, with the first mention of Wheal Busy as a mining concern dating from 1666.

In addition to Wheal Busy being a major producer of tin and copper, the site also saw the successive installation of early innovations in steam technology. A Newcomen Atmospheric Engine was at work dewatering the mine by around 1726, with this role fulfilled by a Smeaton improved atmospheric engine by 1775-1776, and eventually by a Boulton & Watt separate condenser engine, the first to work in Cornwall. This 30 inch cylinder engine was erected in September 1777, with its installation being personally supervised by its designer James Watt.

The much-needed conservation work just commenced at Wheal Busy is being progressed by a partnership comprising Natural England along with the site’s owners, the Tregothnan Estate and are to be entirely funded through the Natural England Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme. The buildings included in the HLS project date from the mid-nineteenth through to the early twentieth centuries, these being the pumping engine house at Engine Shaft (1856, Scheduled Monument, at NGR: SW 73927 44827), comprising its later attached boiler house (1909) and the adjacent boiler chimney (1856).

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