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The Crowns at Botallack, Cornwall | by Christopher Dart
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The Crowns at Botallack, Cornwall

The Crowns, which form part of the Botallack Mine, lie in the St Just mining area close to Land’s End. St Just is one of the oldest mining districts in Cornwall and is believed to be the home of cliff mining.


A pumping engine house was built on the site prior to 1816 and was subsequently replaced by the present Lower Engine House, also called the Crowns Pumping Engine House, in the 1830s. The house is situated approximately 60 feet above sea level.


The Crowns Engine shaft was sunk to the 135-fathom level and was the main pumping shaft. The mine was relatively dry, pumping less than 30 gallons per minute from this shaft. The massive granite blocks used in parts of the house had to be lowered by hand down the cliff into position by block and tackle.


In 1858, work began on sinking the famous Boscawen Diagonal (inclined) Shaft at the Crowns to provide access to the seaward extension of its lodes, a third of a mile out under the Atlantic.


The Upper Engine House, also called Pearce’s Engine House, was built between 1858 and 1861 to serve as a winding engine house for the newly constructed Boscawen Diagonal Shaft. The house is situated approximately 110 feet above sea level and 50 feet above the Crowns Engine House.


Shafts such as this form part of the famous submarine mines where miners could hear the sound of boulders rolling on the seabed above them.


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Taken on October 4, 2012