J.T.Treffry, Place House. . © J.R. Smith.


Luxulyan Valley

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This Area contains an extraordinary concentration of early nineteenth-century industrial remains. They are unique in south-west Britain, in that they represent the physical manifestation of one man’s enterprise – that of Joseph Treffry (1782 - 1850). Copper mining was booming in the St Austell area during the early 1800s, one of the deepest, richest and most important mines in Cornwall being Fowey Consols (1813-1868), which was worked by six steam engines and 17 waterwheels. Treffry linked his mine to his new port at Par in the late 1820s by a canal.

The construction of a tramway from the canal head through the valley to Luxulyan, via an inclined plane and his magnificent viaduct enabled Treffry to develop granite quarries in the valley. The tramway was subsequently extended to a second new port at Newquay. The original tramway was extended to Par, replacing the canal, and was replaced by the Cornwall Minerals Railway in 1874, enabling the development of china-clay and china-stone works at the foot of the valley, the last of these works operating until the mid 1990s

The granite sleepers of the 1835 industrial tramway also acted as lintels for the Carmears Leat that flowed immediately beneath. © Barry Gamble.

The Luxulyan Valley has steep boulder-strewn slopes surrounding the fast-flowing River Par. The thickly-wooded terrain was once an important resource for making the charcoal that was needed in large quantities for smelting tin from rich alluvial deposits on the moors to the northwest. Charcoal-burning platforms are to be found at nearby Prideaux. Treffry was one of the greatest single mines adventurer in Cornwall at the time. He used the profits from Fowey Consols (Cornwall’s fourth largest copper mine), together with financial backing from a fellow investor, to realise his industrial empire.

Fowey Consols,Austen’s engine house (1834, Listed Grade II). The landmark engine house contained the most efficient Cornish beam pumping engine ever made (William West). © Barry Gamble.

The Luxulyan Valley is a place of breathtaking natural beauty, with thickly wooded terrain and steep granite slopes surrounding the fast-flowing River Par and contains an extraordinary concentration of early 19th century industrial remains, unique in South West Britain. It is also unusual within Cornwall in that it represents the landscape realisation of one man's vision. Although Fowey Consols has suffered considerably from dump removal and buildings demolition, the site still includes significant remains and cannot be separated from the Luxulyan Valley and the canal which linked them both to Par.

The Fowey Consols leat (1820s) is the earliest civil engineering construction built by Treffry in the Luxulyan Valley. It supplied the Fowey Consols waterwheels and the largest concentration of water power on a nineteenth century copper mine. © Barry Gamble.

Treffry Viaduct & Aqueduct (1842, Scheduled Monument). This is the earliest granite construction of its kind in the region and stands 27m over the river with a span of 200m.  © HES.

Places to Visit

Wheal Martyn China Clay Museum - china clay museum situated near St Austell.