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Phoenix United Mine

The Phoenix United was once the largest productive mine in East Cornwall, producing over 16,000 tons of tin and 83,000 tons of copper during the years 1842 to 1898. The mine was re-opened with the sinking of the new Prince of Wales Shaft during 1907 to 1914, but closed when the First World War started, among many rumours at the time linked to German ownership. However, the amount of tin brought up was minimal, and the truth was that the expected ore reserves were not found where they were hoped for.

A week of events called Phoenix 100 took place in June 2009 to celebrate Caradon Hill communities past and present. There were guided walks, talks, and exhibitions, and the premiere at Sterts Theatre of a new play about the area called "Gonamena". The celebrations were to mark the events of 100 years ago...

On the 10th June 1909 the Prince and Princess of Wales, the future King George V and Queen Mary, visited Phoenix Mine high up on Bodmin Moor, as part of a three day tour of Cornwall. At the mine the Princess of Wales named and officially started what was to be the last large Cornish pumping engine designed, built and erected in Cornwall. The royal visit to the mine was part of a three day tour of the county, which saw the party visit the Royal Cornwall Show, Padstow, Newquay, and Liskeard. Prior to touring the mine they lunched in a marquee outside the count-house, before moving on for a cream tea at Cotehele.

Phoenix United Mine lit up on March 9th 2009 to launch the Phoenix 100 celebrations
Phoenix United Mine lit up on March 9th 2009 to launch the Phoenix 100 celebrations

The play "Gonamena" is the largely untold story of one of the greatest mining booms in Cornwall’s history; that of the South Caradon and Phoenix mines, and a large number of other workings on and around the Caradon Hill area. Minions, in the centre of this mining area, is the highest village in Cornwall, where the population rose from three families to 5,000 people in less than a decade. It is a story of boom and bust in the most dramatic sense, with adventurers and miners rushing to reap wealth, success for a few, failure for many, and a life full of danger, tragedy, missionaries and whore houses. The subject has been studied and researched in detail to ensure historical accuracy.

Images of the Phoenix United Mine as it is now...

Phoenix United, Prince of Wales shaft pumping engine house
Phoenix United, Prince of Wales Shaft pumping engine house, which finally closed 1914

Prince of Wales shaft as it is now
Prince of Wales shaft pumping engine house as it can be seen now...

Prince of Wales shaft as it was then
...and as a comparison, as Prince of Wales shaft was around 1910
(courtesy of photo of a photo in Minions Heritage Centre!)

Looking down on Phoenix United
Looking down on mine complex from Stowe's Hill
(the large building at the back is the old Mill engine and boiler houses for the stamps

Old whim engine winder building
The old whim engine winder building from near the pumping engine house

Whim engine boiler house
Looking into the whim engine boiler house

Whim engine winder house and machinery plinths
Whim engine house with the old machinery plinths clearly visible

Looking up at Prince of Wales engine house chimney
Looking up at the prominent pumping engine house chimney

Phoenix United back to nature
The mine site now lives on side by side with nature

End of the day for Phoenix United
End of the day for Phoenix United


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