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Geevor Mine:
Underground in Wheal Mexico

See also Geevor Mine and Geevor - The Preserved Tin Mill and Mine

Geevor Mine, as it is now, has a long history of mining on the site, and some of the earliest mining activities that have any documented evidence are those at Wheal Mexico. These records indicate mining at Wheal Mexico took place from at least  sometime during the early 1700s, through to around the 1850s. After this time, access to the mineral lodes changed with newer mine companiess taking over, namely the North Levant Mine, and later, the Geevor Mine. These mines sank new shafts to reach deeper deposits, as the more accessible closer to surface deposits became exhausted.

Wheal Mexico is accessed from an area that has since been used for waste dumps from later mining operations, after some of the old workings had been filled in or used for waste disposal. The old Wheal Mexico adit system was re-discovered during 1994 to 1995 when shaft safety work was being carried out.

Road to Wheal Mexico
The track down to Wheal Mexico at Geevor Mine - looking out over some of the old waste dumps

Considerable research was carried out into what remains of the records of the old Geevor Mine workings, to establish the extent of the original Wheal Mexico, and the underground tour now links many of the main access features to the mine, including the New Mexico Shaft (sometimes Mexico Shaft), Ladderway Shaft, Rock Shaft, and Old Mexico Shaft.

Other adit to Wheal Mexico
Additional adit entrance to New Mexico Shaft - part of the mid-1800s Wheal Mexico mine system
(this mine entrance is not part of the underground Wheal Mexico mine tour)

The underground tour begins at the "eastern" adit entrance to Wheal Mexico (which, in the above photo, is off to the left - the photo was taken looking roughly south-east). The tour then follows a mis-figured "U" shape, and emerges at the exit through a further "western" adit access.

Entrance to Wheal Mexico
The entrance to Wheal Mexico

You will be taken through the mine by an expert tour guide - likely an ex-miner from Geevor Mine...

Wheal Mexico
Inside the adit - there is some older block-work around where the old adit tunnel narrows

Wheal Mexico
Along the adit and moving further in

Wheal Mexico
The height varies where the adit has been hewn out of the rock

Wheal Mexico
Mexico Shaft - complete with mock-up ladderway and ore kibble
(In reality, these would have been in separate shafts, as there would not have been room for both uses)

The above image was taken using flash - giving a very much artificial view of how the mine would have looked to a miner in the early 1800s. There would have been no electric light, and all work would have been by candlelight. Without flash, the same scene appears very different, with only small lights taking the place of candles...

Wheal Mexico
The same view of Mexico Shaft as it would be seen by "candlelight" - and eyes adjusted!

Wheal Mexico
With only a candle attached to your hat by a lump of clay, you would not see very far ahead!

Wheal Mexico
The Ladderway Shaft - ladders were the only way of descending and ascending mine shafts until "Man Engines"
were installed in some mines, or men rode to the surface in ore kibbles - a very risky business

One of the additional tunnels that are being worked on for possible inclusion on underground mine tours...

Wheal Mexico
Looking along an extension adit, or level, towards Rock Shaft - still being worked on

Wheal Mexico
A closer look inside the level towards Rock Shaft, where safety work continues

The above level returns to the main tour tunnel, via Windlass Shaft...

Wheal Mexico
The returning extension adit, returning via Windlass Shaft

The access tunnels - still all technically adits - remain fairly small. Why excavate holes larger than you need for a miner to walk down with their equipment, the ore would likely be hauled to the surface in kibbles up the ore shafts.

Wheal Mexico
Mine adits of the 1800s are not large! (They wouldn't have had mains cables either of course!)

A lot of safety and stabilisation work has been carried out in Wheal Mexico to enable underground tours to take place, and this is particularly evident near the adit entrance and exit, where some solid modern timber-work can be seen...

Wheal Mexico
The adit approaching the western exit to Wheal Mexico

Wheal Mexico
Looking back down into Wheal Mexico from the exit

Exit to Wheal Mexico
The "western" exit adit


There are some fascinating old photographs on display at Geevor Mine of life underground, during both the late nineteenth century, and from more modern times, before the mine finally closed in 1990...

Old photo Geevor Mine
Taken using early flash photography - miners retiring rapidly by candlelight, after charges have been set
(taken from a display photograph at Geevor Mine)

Old photo Geevor Mine
Looking up one of the excavated stopes from one of the modern Geevor levels
(taken from a display photograph at Geevor Mine)

Old photo Geevor Mine
Looking along one of the maze of levels in Geevor - note what looks like a tunnel identity mark top left
(taken from a display photograph at Geevor Mine)

See also Geevor Mine and Geevor - The Preserved Tin Mill and Mine


All photographs are copyright of Clive ffitch; please contact PhotoFile Cornwall if you wish to use them.
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