Wheal Coates, St Agnes Mining District.  HES.


St. Agnes Mining District
[location map] [historic landscapes] [WHS GIS mapping]

Centred on the small town of St Agnes, this elongated and predominantly coastal mining district has been formed by the contact between the granite underlying St. Agnes Beacon - an outlier of the Carn Brea boss - and the complex metamorphosed country rock which surrounds and overlies it. To the west and close to the granite contact, it includes a group of ancient tin mines which stretch from the dramatic openwork of Wheal Luna overlooking Trevaunance Cove through Seal Hole and Polberro towards St. Agnes Head. To the south-west lies Wheal Coates, one of the best known Cornish mine sites, and the important copper mines of Wheal Charlotte and the Porthtowan mines - most notably Tywarnhayle/United Hills and the Towan group. Wheal Kitty and Penhalls dominate the west of Trevaunance Cove, whilst Blue Hills occupies the seaward end of the nearby Trevellas Coombe, where tin stamps and small-scale dressing floors have now been restored to working order.

The cliffs westward to Perranporth were extensively worked by small, and in many cases ancient mines such as Wheal Ocean and Wheal Prudence, the best known of these being in the geologically complex area of Cligga Head. Copper mines again dominate the clifftops eastwards from here through Perran St. George to Droskyn Point, overlooking Perran Sands. A number of mines including Wheal Leisure worked the area now occupied by Perranporth, though there is almost nothing to see of them today. Dune movement has obscured much of the evidence for Wheal Ramoth and Wheal Vlow to the north, whilst other developments have left little of the once-important workings on the Perran Iron Lode and the Penhale mines. Inland, other once-important groups of mines operated around Goonhavern, Chiverton and Wheal Rose.

The flat-topped, heath-covered St Agnes Beacon is underlain by the granite that is responsible for the mineral wealth of this district.  HES.

Although the majority of mining activity was confined to the coast, the area inland has changed dramatically during the last two centuries, the huge areas of downland which formerly stretched almost all the way to Truro and Redruth having been taken under the plough to feed a rapidly-expanding and increasingly urban population. To the south of St. Agnes around Goonbell and Mount Hawke, both originally miners' settlements, the patchwork of small fields surrounding them testify to their origins as miners' smallholdings.

St. Agnes is the principal settlement of this district (Perranporth and Porthtowan were developed during the last century as holiday destinations, whilst Mount Hawke has grown considerably during recent decades). The town grew up with the mining district and has two separate foci - the first, centred on its church, stretches inland towards the Beacon and Goonbell; the second, at the seaward end of Trevaunance Coombe, developed around the series of small harbours which were constructed against the cliffs to the west of the beach to serve the mines of the district. The surrounding area is characterised by scatters of former miners' cottages within an essentially rural landscape. Blackwater and Goonhavern, former mining hamlets which have been enlarged in recent years, fringe the district to the south and east.

 Places to Visit

Blue Hills Tin Streams - Blue Hills tin streaming works is nestled at the seaward end of the Trevellas Valley near St Agnes on the north coast of Cornwall.