Wheal Victoria Mine Underground
However, now we have the internet, and the
wonders of digital photography, armchair exploration is also possible, and there
are a number of very interesting websites with photographic exploration records.
The following three websites are good places to start:
With regard to the underground workings of Wheal Victoria, I have been contacted by an experienced Mine Explorer - Stuart Dann - who has kindly provided me with some exploratory (and explanatory) information and photographs of what he has found out about the mine. There are also some excellent photographs taken by another mine explorer "Orphan" from the AditNow website who ventured further in to the mine with a camera. By piecing all the information together, a clearer picture can be gained of the interesting history of the Wheal Victoria Copper Mine.
What was Discovered in
The First Adit, down by the river (see the end of the page on Wheal Victoria), was Stuart's entry point, and progress inwards was a trial, but what was revealed were the various branches off the sides of this access adit, that were dug to see if the strings of ore discovered by the nineteenth century miners were pinching or swelling (getting smaller or larger).
There is a pool in the floor of this First Adit, which is called a Winze, which is an internal shaft sunk along a lode to see if it proved in depth. The depth of this winze, and whether or not it "goes", could be tested by bailing a few buckets of water out of it, but this was not able to be done. If the water level in such a shaft doesn't change, then the drowned workings are extensive.
The pipes that are visible in the water suggest by their presence that the winze was originally (and still is presumably) quite a deep hole, but that it can't have been very wet, due to the size of the bores.
It is possible that this winze was pumped by "flat rods" but this was thought probably unlikely, but possible, but it is equally unlikely that it was pumped from the main shaft - the "Engine Shaft" (see previous page) - that can be found up on the hill. Though if the shaft and adit met at some deeper level, this would of course be feasible. Another possible explanation comes from surface evidence outside on the hillside, where there are a number of possible locations for the still un-discovered Third Shaft. Just further up from the Second Wheel-pit (again see the previous page) is an aluminium pole which is hollow and drilled at the top, and whacking the top and listening reveals a possible ventilating pipe of a capped shaft, but this turned out on later investigation to be linked solely with the old china clay pipe that crosses the river in the woods above the Falls.
This un-discovered Third Shaft that was not found during my earlier surface feature researches, and from Stuart's findings, he expects that this new shaft would have been the one that the pumps worked from. This is a big step forward in solving the historical puzzles of Wheal Victoria. It is possible then, that the winze in the First Adit underlies into either this Third Shaft or the Engine Shaft, with the pump gear going down the shaft, and the water pumped out up through the winze (through the pipe in the photo) and thence out of the adit and into the river. This now seems very plausible.
From Stuart's findings underground in Wheal Victoria, and as with many other mines where it is similarly not evident from the surface workings, it is quite often the case that the old miners' tools and equipment are all still in place. Stuart expects Wheal Victoria to be one of these. The winze and lower adit still have pipes in them which suggests the mine was simply abandoned, and not stripped for scrapping.
And one final point of note, using Stuart's words: "Caves are all well and good, but remember that these mines and their huge cavities were made by people with candles". A humbling thought.
Further Explorations inside
Wheal Victoria (courtesy of AditNow)
Some more photographs taken from within the main adit...
Return to the main Wheal Victoria PhotoFile page.
© All photographs are copyright of Clive ffitch; please contact PhotoFile
Cornwall if you wish to use them.
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