Wheal Coates Tin Mine

Wheal Coates Tin Mine

Almost 300 million years ago, great heat and pressure was generated by the collision of continents, melting the Earth’s crust to form granite, which was forced upwards through the slate. In the intense heat, water circulated through the cracks in the granite, dissolving minerals from the rocks around them. In time this formed the rich tin, copper and tungsten deposits exploited by Cornwall’s highly successful mining industry. Some 50 million years later, further earth movements led to the formation of lead, silver, iron and zinc

Now part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site, the local area was worked for tin for centuries and was a bustling industrial centre in the nineteenth century. It is thought that primitive mining operations were carried out here even in prehistoric times, and there is evidence of medieval mine workings. Wheal Coates Mine opened in 1802, and the famous Towanroath Pumping Engine House was built in 1872 to pump water from the adjacent shaft.

In 1880 the Stamps Engine House was added to crush the ore, and at its peak production the mine was employing 138 people to mine and dress the tin, which was found in lodes just below sea level. Wheal Coates closed in 1889, although it reopened briefly between 1910 and 1913, when a calciner was built to roast the ore and remove impurities (principally arsenic). In 1986 the National Trust stabilised and preserved the three remaining buildings and now maintains the site for visitors from all over the world.

There’s a short walk with a gentle climb beside a stream when visiting Wheal Coates, one of Cornwall’s most iconic mines, perched high on the sheer red cliffs above Chapel Porth beach. Check out the tide times before you leave, so that you can explore the long sandy beach on a falling tide, when its fascinating rock formations, multi-coloured caves and well-stocked rockpools are at their best. If the weather’s good, bring a picnic and enjoy the stunning scenery used as a location for many films, including adaptations of novels by best-selling Cornish author, Rosamunde Pilcher.


Tel: 01752 896237

Email: hello@southwestcoastpath.org.uk

Monday to Friday from 9am to 4.30pm.