*** – History – ***
Tin and copper have been mined from the general area of Geevor since the late 18th century. It was originally a small enterprise known as Wheal an Giver, "a piece of ground occupied by goats". The area was worked under the name of East Levant Mine until 1840 and then as North Levant from 1851 to 1891 when it closed. During the 1880s as many as 176 workers were employed at the mine, but in the ten years after North Levant's closure the site saw only intermittent activity by a few miners.
At the turn of the 20th century a group of St. Just miners who had emigrated to South Africa were forced to return by the outbreak of the Second Boer War. They leased the area and conducted more thorough prospecting, being encouraged enough to set up a company called Levant North (Wheal Geevor) in 1901. This was acquired by the West Australian Gold Field Company Ltd. in 1904 which brought together various mines under the name of Geevor Tin Mines Ltd. in 1911, not long after the price of tin had rapidly risen to £181 a ton in 1906 from a low of £64 in 1896.
The Wethered shaft (named after Oliver Wethered, one of the founders of the mine) was begun in 1909 and initial development occurred around it. By 1919, the works were moving west toward the coastline and the Victory shaft (named to celebrate the end of the First World War) was sunk about 540 metres to the north-west. The mine suspended operations in 1921 and again for 12 months during the tin crisis in 1930 that permanently closed many other Cornish mines. In 1944 working through Wethered shaft was discontinued, but the Victory shaft continued in use.
From the end of World War II until the early 1960s both Geevor and South Crofty found it hard to raise capital and to recruit skilled miners. Both mines took on Polish and Italian miners at this time. New investment, forward-looking management and rising tin prices in the 1960s improved matters. During the 1960s there was much underground exploration; this included extending into the undersea workings of the Levant mine that had closed in 1930, work that was complicated by a hole in the seabed that first had to be plugged before the workings could be drained.
By the 1970s Geevor's sett covered an area of about three square miles and included Boscaswell Downs mine, Pendeen Consols and Levant mine. In 1985 the International Tin Council failed and there was a dramatic fall in the price of the metal. The mine struggled on for a few years, but closed in 1990, and the pumps were switched off in May 1991 allowing the workings to flood.
During the 20th century Geevor drove over 85 miles (137 km) of tunnels from which it produced around 50,000 tons of black tin and made a profit of over £7 million. On average over a million gallons of water, a quarter of which was sea-water, was pumped from the mine daily.
*** – Visiting – ***
This is your chance to go underground and walk through the tunnels that were made by men and boys two hundred years ago! Wheal Mexico dates back to the 18th century, and during your trip you will get the experience of being in a real mine.
The underground mine will be open each day from 10am. For your added safety please ensure that you bring a face covering with you for your trip into the mine; our guides will also be wearing them in the mine! The covering may be either made of cloth or be a medical mask. Note: this does not apply to children under 11. Children are welcome to go into the mine but must be able to walk, not carried, to take part in this exciting experience.
The museum tells the story of tin mining in Cornwall and Geevor in particular, showing what happened on the surface and underground and what life was like for those who worked there, including oral history recordings. Visitors can also walk through the mine buildings to see the original machinery and there is a guided underground tour into Wheal Mexico, an 18th-century mine.
Have a go at panning for ‘gold’ and a collection of colourful gemstones. Fun for all ages and you can keep what you find for free! The site has a souvenir shop and a cafe that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. There are interactive activities e.g. panning for gold and gemstones. They offer a 10% discount to visitors who travel to Geevor by A3 or A17 bus. Geevor is built on a steep slope and therefore some areas of the site are not accessible to those with visual or mobility impairments.There is currently wheelchair access to the museum, a number of the mine buildings and many surface areas.Guided tours are available.
They welcome dogs across the entire site, with the exception of the underground mine. They provide drinking water for them at various places across the site. Assistance dogs are welcome across the whole site without exception. Levant Mine and Beam Engine, a National Trust site, is a 10 minute walk away along the coastpath. Unfortunately Levant is closed until at least September.
Location : Pendeen, Penzance, Cornwall TR19 7EW
Transport: Penzance (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : A3 or A17 bus stops outside (A3 in the Summer only).
Opening Times : Sunday to Thursday 09:00 to 17:00.
Tickets : Adult £16.10 (Full) OR £12.95 (Museum Only); Senior £13.95; Child/Student (4+) £9.00; Carer Free.
Tel: 01736 788662