St Agnes Mining District

St Agnes Mining District A7 Wheal Coates copyright B Gamble at Cornwall Council

Mining at St Agnes was focused on the coast, as at St Just, but the surrounding landscape was also changed through the establishment of mineworkers’ smallholdings – small subsistence farms - created through the improvement of heathland by lease-holding mining families. St Agnes village itself experienced expansion due to the influence of mining and the Miners’ and Mechanics’ Institute is a good example of the self-improvement initiatives for mineworkers being established at the time. 

The Towanroath pumping engine house at Wheal Coates is another iconic feature of the Cornish Mining landscape which, like the Crowns’ engine houses at Botallack, is situated on the cliffs and much photographed. Signs of earlier mining are also evident in the surface topography, particularly those associated with the process termed ‘hushing’. Here water was stored in a purpose-built reservoir and then suddenly released to wash away lighter waste covering the tin ground. Nearby are also traces of pits where clay was dug and used to fix ‘dips’ or candles onto the felt hats of mineworkers.

The St Agnes Area is also notable for its mineralogical importance. The parallel tin and tungsten bearing greisens exposed as veins at Cligga Head near Perranporth are thought to be the finest exposure of this mineralised structure known internationally.

Photograph reproduced with the kind permission of B Gamble at Cornwall Council

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