Tin industry in the S.W. Did they use railways?

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End2end
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Tin industry in the S.W. Did they use railways?

Postby End2end » Sun Dec 17, 2017 7:51 pm

The main industry touted to model in Cornwall is the china clay industry but to perhaps enlarge the frieght options on my layout my thoughts turned to the Tin industry. I know nothing about how the tin was transported only that there are redundant tin mines all over Cornwall.
Some are in very precarious positions like the famous Wheal Coates at St. Agnes Head which is the usual picture you'll see when such things are advertised due to it's dramatic "clinging to the cliff edge" situation.
Image
Image
Were railways even used in the tin industry due to some of these extreme locations?
I'm not even sure what period the 2 industries were working in. Did they overlap in timescale?
If the railway was used for transportation how was this done? As in what gauge, what kind of rolling stock, covered or non covered, raw or already treated somehow at source?
Or perhaps, does anyone know of some information or perhaps weblinks I could peruse please?
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Re: Tin industry in the S.W. Did they use railways?

Postby b308 » Sun Dec 17, 2017 7:57 pm

There were certainly the odd narrow gauge line, though I don't know anything about them...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_q ... d_and_zinc

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mining_in ... n_Cornwall

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Re: Tin industry in the S.W. Did they use railways?

Postby End2end » Sun Dec 17, 2017 10:41 pm

Thanks for those links b308. :)
It sent me spiralling off on a reading binge with some great information but no actual rolling stock except loco's so didn't quite find what I was looking for. I thought perhaps there would have been at least some diagrams or drawn/painted pictures but the only one I found of rolling stock was this of Fowey station.
Fowey_station.jpg

It's not tin but that looks like a lot of scrumpy! :lol:
Still on the hunt for more pictures.
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Re: Tin industry in the S.W. Did they use railways?

Postby End2end » Sun Dec 17, 2017 11:10 pm

Just digging some more I've found this about an accident on the Hayle railway describing more about the make up of trains and loads that I am after.

"The railway enabled the transportation of copper and tin ore from the mines, using coastal shipping or onward transport. Coal (for fuelling pumps which kept the mines dry) and machinery and timber were brought in, and general merchandise was conveyed.
The trains were mixed mineral and passenger, and the practice approaching Hayle was to uncouple the passenger portion while the train was in motion, allowing the passenger coaches to coast to the passenger station.
Each carriage contained three and a half tons of ore, and although no ore was lost (being in sacks), the damage is estimated at L100"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hayle_Railway

One more thing I need to know / see is how the copper was transported within wagons.
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Re: Tin industry in the S.W. Did they use railways?

Postby End2end » Sun Dec 17, 2017 11:53 pm

Thanks Emettman.
Off to peruse those too.
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Re: Tin industry in the S.W. Did they use railways?

Postby Bigmet » Mon Dec 18, 2017 9:04 am

My sister lives in what was built as a mine captain's house in the Caradon mining area, in which there was an extensive railway system serving the copper and tin extraction, generally grouped together as the 'Caradon and Liskeard'. This system was bought by the GWR in the early 1900s, and then they Beechinged it - the complete barstards! - within 10 years, leaving all the communities that had developed up on South side of Bodmin moor 'high and dry' in transport terms, back to walking, or riding if they could afford to keep an animal.

When working the extracted ore was concentrated in works attached to or near the mines, and sacked for rail shipment. The usual route was down to the port of Looe, for sea freight to South Wales with its concentration of metal refining industry on the coast. It's largely unfenced land and you can walk for hours exploring both the natural scenery and the industrial remains. You may find yourself on a path with regular granite blocks in pairs, and suddenly realise that these are stone 'sleepers'. They had tons of granite to hand, and were breaking into it to get to the ore lodes, so why ship in timber for sleepers when rails can just as well be laid on stone blocks?

The inward traffic was considerable, they needed loads of timber to prop and service the mine with pump rods, ladders and all the rest of the tackle, the mine engine parts, pipework and general metalwork, regular supplies of the coal to run the engines which had to go 24/7 for the most part pumping out the water flooding in!, explosives and candles. Ponies and pasties were locally sourced.

The 'permanent' parts of the railway are mapped, but there were lines built 'all over' as mines were opened and worked out, and these were not mapped systematically. My sister's house has a few yards of railway in the garden, even though the line was never on any map we have seen, and the cattle byre's foundation courses are mostly from stones that are salvaged sleeper blocks. (My theory is that they salvaged these blocks from the abandoned line either side of the property, using what was left of the railway to transport it to the building site.) One or two locations there are still pieces of rail in situ, but what you have to be mindful of is that the miners dug holes literally everywhere, and some of them may not have been roofed over that well! The spoil heaps of waste aren't necessarily stable either.

In all this digging the best thing that was found is the 'Rillaton cup', in a cist near the Cheesewring. This is an all gold cup beaten out from a single piece of gold dating from something like 3,500 to 4,000 years past (academics still arguing!) on display in the British museum. Worth an inspection just for the workmanship. That was one skilled goldsmith...

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Re: Tin industry in the S.W. Did they use railways?

Postby b308 » Mon Dec 18, 2017 9:53 am

It's worth pointing out after reading the above post that when it comes to industrial use there is a massive grey area between what are "railways" and what are "tramways", E2E it may be worth you searching "tramways" as well... Also many of the sorts of systems mentioned so far are hand or horse worked rather than loco hauled... I suspect the one mentioned above would have probably been horse worked rather than loco for most of the system, locos, even small ones, are an expensive luxury for mine owners, especially if coal has to be brought in...

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Re: Tin industry in the S.W. Did they use railways?

Postby End2end » Mon Dec 18, 2017 12:27 pm

Thanks for the extensive reply Bigmet. Lots of info there. :)
Also Your definatly right B308, when reading through the links supplied they do call them tramways a lot of the time.
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Re: Tin industry in the S.W. Did they use railways?

Postby D605Eagle » Wed Dec 20, 2017 6:07 pm

The Hayle railway which was totally isolated when built was built for tin and copper extraction. It ran from Hayle harbour to Camborne and Redruth with branches to Portreath and Tresavean. The main route is still open although after Cambourne travelling west several flat areas and inclined plains were diverted more than 150 years ago, although you can still see much of the original route. The branch to Tresavean was for the majority built on stone blocks and although it remained open until 1936 it was never relaid with conventional wooden sleepers.

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Re: Tin industry in the S.W. Did they use railways?

Postby End2end » Wed Dec 20, 2017 6:12 pm

Your an inspiration D605Eagle. :mrgreen:
My cousin lives in Portreath. I wonder if I can get her to take a wander and some shots of anything she finds. :)
Either that or go there when I'm next in Cornwall.
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Re: Tin industry in the S.W. Did they use railways?

Postby D605Eagle » Wed Dec 20, 2017 6:16 pm

I lived in Portreath in the late 80s, the incline to the Harbour was intact back then although it was heavily overgrown with the most evil brambles known to man! Very few trees grow in that part of the world due to the near constant wind, and those that do are little more than overgrown bushes.
Once you get to the top you can follow parts of the line to the outskirts of Illogan Highway, but after that it's totally obliterated.

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Re: Tin industry in the S.W. Did they use railways?

Postby JasonBz » Sat Feb 24, 2018 1:44 am

The picture of Fowey is china clay in barrels.. sadly not scrumpy :P

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Re: Tin industry in the S.W. Did they use railways?

Postby End2end » Sat Feb 24, 2018 4:01 pm

Thanks JasonBz. I never knew it was transported in barrels. :idea:
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Re: Tin industry in the S.W. Did they use railways?

Postby Foo » Sat Feb 24, 2018 6:56 pm

The incline is still in Portreath. Visisble on google maps Here behind Tung Sing Cantoneese. and here on streetview


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