It is as if the walls were echoing once more with the rough tones of miners. As if weary feet were stamping against the bare cement floor, accompanied by the screeching tones of the rising cage. Nowadays, not far from Penzance, the Atlantic flows through the disused galleries of the Geevor tin mine which was closed in 1991. The pithead gear is only a stone’s throw away from the cliffs of the north coast of Cornwall. For centuries tin was mined here in huge quantities. In its final years the underground galleries stretched away for miles beneath the sea. A group of former miners has now brought the everyday life of the mine back to life. The former office buildings now serve as a museum for mining artefacts and tin products – not to speak of the precious minerals which where the brilliant by-products of the heavy underground labour. The Winder House and Compressor House complete with their original equipment bear impressive witness to the technological development of the tin mining industry. The “Dry”, where the miners changed and showered looks as if the next shift is likely to show up at any minute. And a tour through the narrow galleries of this early 19th century mine will take you deep into the past history of local tin mining.
In ancient times Cornwall was known as “tin island” because the rare metal was a highly coveted material. No wonder that this precious material has shaped the history of the region since time immemorial. The Geevor Tin Mine simultaneously marks the zenith and the end of this commercial tradition. The mine dates back to the mid 19th century and was one of the last tin mines to open in the coastal area north-west of Penzance. The rural surrounding are so full of holes from the gallery entrances that they resemble a Swiss cheese. As early as 1700 the local inhabitants began to drive tiny, low galleries into the ground. By 1815 the first steam pumping engine was at work in one of the local mines. Nowadays visitors can find out about the conditions under which the miners of the time had to endure in the narrow gangways of Wheal Mexico (in Cornwall the word “wheal” means a mine) immediately adjacent to the Geevor Tin Mine. The early mining companies dug out deposits from beneath the sea floor, a procedure which was also adopted at Geevor. When reserves of tin began to run out in the 1950s the main shaft was sunk right down to a seventh level in order to get at new deposits beneath the Atlantic. A single black day in autumn 1985 destroyed it all. Almost over night the price of tin on the world market fell by around a third. The result was mass redundancy. In 1991 Geevor was closed for good. As soon as the pumps were turned off sea water began to flood into the galleries. Shortly after that a group of former miners came together, determined to protect the remains of “their” mine from demolition and decay. Their efforts were rewarded two years later in 1993 when the pit opened its gates once more, this time as an industrial museum. Now the Geevor Tin Mine is acknowledged to be the largest preserved tin mining site in Great Britain. Here the history of tin mining is kept alive in an authentic manner: from the work of mining underground to its industrial processing, and from the earliest times to the present.
|Recommended duration of visit:||3 Hours|
|Duration of a guided Tour:||30 Minutes|
|Access for persons with disabilities:||For details see website|
|Infrastructure for Children:|
|Visitor centre on site:||yes|
|Gift and book shop on Site:||yes|
April to October:
Sunday - Friday 9am-5pm
November to March:
Sunday - Friday 9am-4pm