On this Day 14th March 1914

Botallack Mine Closes

The last sentence of Cyril Noall's history of Botallack Mine reads, Rodda's Almanack tersely records that Botallack Mine closed on March 14th 1914, just five months before the outbreak of the first World War.

The London Gazette of 4 September 1914 recorded that an Extraordinary General Meeting of Botallack Limited had been held on 27 August at which it was agreed that the company could not continue to trade and that it was therefore advisable to wind up the company and that George Addison Scott was appointed as liquidator. But from the viewpoint of those in St Just and district who depended upon the mine for their livelihoods the mine had ceased to exist months before and this formal recognition of the fact was of little interest, passing without comment in the local press, which by now was heavily focused on the outbreak of World War I.

Earlier in the year, when the local press was still mainly focused on local news, the demise of the great institution which was Botallack Mine was recorded. On 15 January the Cornish Telegraph reported that: The underground men at Botallack numbering about 100, who received notice on Friday, ceased work on Monday……….We were informed on Tuesday that no further news had been received from London, and about 100 men were idle.

On 22 January the same paper reported: By paying off another 100 miners at Botallack on Saturday (making over 200 in all), this property has been brought to a standstill. A Receiver has been appointed and no doubt the first endeavour will be to sell the mine and machinery as a going concern……….

At present about twenty five of the 250 men employed are being kept on, but as the pumps are brought up some of these will be paid off.

And in the St Just section of that issue the Telegraph reported the consequences for some local people saying: Quite a number left St Just on Monday for South Wales, owing to operations ceasing at Botallack Mine.

The pumps are being taken up at Botallack mine. Quite a number of men are being taken on at Levant and Geevor mines.

At this point the business, if not the mine, was still alive. On 2 April 1915 Botallack sold 4.5 tons of black tin at £94-5-0d per ton, realising £424-2-6d. The final sale appears to have been of 3.5 tons made on 23 July at £82-5-0d for a total of £267-17-6d. For the mine though, the report of 22 January signified the end with the taking up of the pumps.

What precisely happened on 14 March which caused Rodda's Almanac to inscribe that date as the end for Botallack remains unknown, certainly Cyril Noall does not explain the date. Botallack briefly became part of the Geevor grand scheme of the 1970s and 1980s which was to link the coastal mining properties of Geevor, Levant, Botallack and Wheal Owles creating a super-mine which would vastly expand the resources available and secure the future of Geevor and the jobs of those who worked there. It was not to be but the venture is marked by the headframe at Allen's Shaft. The landscape of Botallack is shaped by thousands of years of mining and streaming and the headframe marks the end of this era in Botallack's history, an era which began with small scale smelting hearths such as that buried beneath the grass just a few hundred yards from Allen's Shaft.

Botallack mine as it is today

Botallack Mine as it is today, right to left: Count House on the right, the stack of Allen's Shaft in the centre (1906-1914), Allen's Shaft headframe (1980) and the calciner stack (1906-1914 originally built about 1860 when steam was first applied to stamping ore at Botallack. In front of the calciner stack are the remains of the 19th century dressing floors. (photo Ted Mole) 


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