Wheal Coates Mine is the name given to this cluster of mine workings situated on the cliffs between St. Agnes and Porthtowan, North Cornwall, under the protection of the National Trust. The location is very picturesque and Towanroath Pumping Engine House is recognisable from the many book covers and calendars on which it has appeared.
These mine buildings and workings can be accessed along the coast path and are only a short walk from a National Trust car park. ‘Wheal’ is Cornish for ‘mine’. The site was worked for centuries, but the most prosperous period was between 1870 and 1880, when 138 people were employed, but by 1913, the mine had closed.
Towanroath Pumping Engine House was constructed in 1872 and is a Grade II listed building, which pumped water from the 600 feet deep shaft of this copper and tin mine. The view from Chapel Porth beach at low tide is magnificent. All three engine houses can be seen, as well as the cavity of Towanroath Vugga. This cave in the cliffs has been used by the miners as mine workings.
The Whim Engine House above Towanroath, was built in 1880 to crush ore. A third engine house, further away from the cliff edge, had a dual purpose. This Stamps and Whim Engine House not only hoisted up the ore, but also crushed it.
The remains of the Calciner building constructed in 1910, can be seen. Its purpose was to roast the tin to remove impurities such as arsenic.