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These pages will eventually contain information about the people connected with the following mines:-
Danescombe Valley (Calstock Consols etc.)
Prince of Wales
A list of local mines, based on documents held at the Cornwall Records Office and other resources.
Worked from: 11th Century to 1905 (also 1909-10), with periods of closure.
Producing: Mainly tin, also some copper, wolfram, arsenic, molybdenum, lead, & silver, originally from a long "gunnis" or open cutting.
Plans: Available from the CRO and include those with reference numbers HB/66, HB/A29, MRO/4733, MRO/R63 and O.S. Plan HB/S32/2 (1884/1906)
1847 - Company Chairman, Percival Norton
Johnson (also with interests in Johnson Matthey)
Other Associated Names:
1859-1871 Gregory, Thomas
1859-1862 Betteley, E.
1859 Andrews, J. Chief
1889 - 1892 Rodda, Henry Mine Captain
1844 The first use of a method for separating wolfram from tin, devised by Dr. Robert Oxland.
1850 A summer storm sent hailstones of up to 10cm in circumference smashing through the windows of the engine houses. The accompanying rain washed enough sand and earth underground to hamper mining for some time.
1859 The mine employed 398 people. William Francis Tucker (15) was killed at the mine, buried 20 March.
1860s The management refused to employ members of a newly-formed Union, resulting in a strike It is reported that a strike-breaker was 'trussed to a pole and paraded amongst the jeering population of Gunnislake'. The imprisonment of the people responsible led to employee unrest and management lock-outs in some neighbouring mines, quelled by the use of troops and the employment of miners from other areas.
From the West Briton, 2 March 1866, "At the East Caradon and Marke Valley Mines on Monday last, three pitches at each mine were refused by the men, and the price offered not being increased, the whole of the men at both mines turned out on strike, and have not resumed work. At Drakewalls Mine, work having been refused to men connected with the newly formed society, the men in a body refused to work, and having caught one of their number who had expressed his willingness to go below, rode him on a rail through Gunnislake. For this legal proceedings have been taken. The managers of the whole of the mine in the Tavistock district and many in the Liskeard district have signed a resolution not to employ men belonging to the society."
1861 The mine employed 350 people.
1869 December. Thomas Gerry, of Calstock, Henry Coombe of Luckett and John Adams, of Metherell, were killed in accidents at the mine. See this page.
Circa. 1870 Surface workers earned 15/- per week and underground workers slightly more, on a piece-work system.
1884 70 men were employed underground and 60 at the surface.
1889 - 5 February. Henry Davis, John (Jack) Tucker, John Rule and William Bant went underground at 7a.m. as usual. They were preparing to allow sand to run into a previously-worked area. Rule (described as a "competent person besides being a careful steady man") and Bant went to release the sand, whilst Tucker and Davis stayed to tell them when to stop. After a few minutes of running, the sand suddenly started falling too fast, to the accompaniment of a loud roar. Tucker and Davis, covered in sand, struggled out of the shaft, but Bant and Rule remained - entombed.
Despite efforts to release them, they remained there for 2 nights until the arrival of H.M. Inspector of Mines (Archibald E. Pinching) on the 7 February. At that stage a second major rescue plan was underway led by Thomas Chapman, the 'pitman', using details of the mine workings supplied by William Smale, an elderly timber man ("who, unfortunately, was exceedingly deaf") and Richard Collings, a young man who had moved recently to another mine.
Working in groups of three, the miners used small blasts of dynamite to excavate a channel down to the entombed men. Verbal contact with them was made at 10a.m.the following morning and it is stated that "strong men, many of whom had been in rough mining camps in all parts of the world, (were) alternately laughing and crying, like children, with emotion."
Renewed efforts were made, led by Moses Bawden (the purser), Captain Richards (the agent) and Albert Pinching, the Inspector. A small hole was finally blasted through to the men at 9 p.m. and refreshments were lowered the 18 fathoms down. After enlargement of the hole, Tom Chapman was lowered down and effected the rescue. Bant and Rule were fed "soup, beef tea &c." and the mine was cleared of all men by midnight.
The mine agent was censured for not reporting the matter to the Inspector immediately. Thomas Chapman's conduct was recommended to be "brought to the attention of the Queen (when) Her Majesty might be inclined to bestow some mark of favour upon such a deserving subject." (N. B. Thomas was awarded the Albert Medal of the second class, for gallantry in saving life - see the Newspaper Articles page.)
It was common at the time for poems to be written to mark such occasions and this rescue was no exception. The original "Rescued Alive" contained fourteen verses, the final seven of which are printed here, with thanks to P.H.G. Richardson.
It is not clear whether William Bant and John Rule were mentally scarred by their ordeal, but one later committed suicide, the other became a local preacher.
Further details of this incident can be obtained by using the Contact link above left.
1891 48 people were employed below ground and 50 at the surface.
1893 William Henry Rundle (35, tin & copper miner) was killed at the mine. Inquest held at Honeycomb on 21 July 1893. He was married with 5 children. Cause of death given as:-
"Injuries accidentally received to the head from the falling of a piece of timber down the shaft on him while in the strip at Drakewalls Mine."
1895 53 people were employed below ground and 59 at the surface.
1901 20 people were employed below ground and 20 at the surface.
1908 The mine employed 2 people below ground and 4 at the surface..
1918 The mine employed 3 men below ground
Any corrections to this information would
be useful - it is sometimes difficult in old records, to tell the
difference between various mines, in this case between Drakewalls &
Information is being added to this website on a frequent basis. Come back again soon for more information about mining people.
If you have details, photographs, corrections etc. which you would like to contribute, please use the 'Contact' link top left.
Caradon District Council website