The Old Lead Mine Pentireglaze

My facebook page has information I have gathered about this silver and lead mine that closed in 1857. Mining at Pentire peaked in the 1850's and provided fortunes for a few adventurers and employment for many in this part of North Cornwall.

Pentire and The Rumps jutting out into the Atlantic are where the Pentireglaze mines were. The Romans came up the River Camel to mine for vital supplies of tin for the Empire. Harbour Cove is on the right of the estuary and was the main port but the channel up the River Camel has switched sides over the centuries and in the last two Padstow further up the river developed as the port for this exposed section of coast.

The old lead mine has few records and fewer photos or drawings of its operation. Clearly it was an important mine in its day and there is still evidence of shafts, dumps and sites where the surface workings were. However, there is still a lot of research to do and it wasn't until I was talking with an old member of the Royal Observer Corps that I helped the National Trust rediscover the Nuclear Bunker sited close to their HQ at Pentireglaze where they are now building their new tea rooms! It had been filled in, buried and forgotten at the end of its operational use in 1968.

Amazingly the power for all the mining operations in the area came from an engine house, sited close to the NT carpark, that used a flat rod system to transmit the power across the valleys.

Few records exist of what went on at the Pentire mines but it is clear that it employed many locals and some of them were Bal Maidens. An extract from a newspaper of the day recounts how Bal Maidens of Pentire mine got into a fight with women from St Minver over a wreck that contained a load of fig crates; with the strong Pentire girls winning the cases (presumably because they were a lot stronger!)

The West Briton newspaper (Dated 19 June 1857):

Mr Tippet is instructed to sell by Public Auction in the coming month of July (the precise days will appear in future advertisements at Pentire Glaze Mine, St Minver, near Wadebridge, the whole of the valuable Materials thereon comprising – a 60 inch cylinder pumping engine, 7 ½ feet stroke in the shaft, equal beam with boiler 110 tons. A 24-inch Cylinder horizontal high pressure Winding and Crushing Engine with Boiler about 10 tons. Also a good Crusher, 123 heads of Stamps and Machine for Drawing Work (nearly new). An excellent 10 feet water wheel, 2 feet abreast, with 9 stamp heads attached.

Close to the Mine shafts and spoil heaps, but with absolutely nothing to do with them, is a recently discovered 1960's ROC Nuclear bunker.

Just on the skyline you can see the digger at the site of the bunker. It's now a small fenced off area just next to the coast path

Sarah Stevens from the NT north coast rangers is there to see the opening of the bunker entrance. It turned out to be flooded and full of barb wire and other rubbish.

There are some good ROC displays at the Cornwall at War Museum at Davidstow

Billy's Bunker

My 2015 Royal Observer Corps monitoring post discovery.

In 2015 I was trying to find the site of a bunker I was told about by Howard Kent, a former volunteer for the Trebetherick Post at Pentireglaze. The ROC was a defence organisation operating between 1925 and 1995 and used civilian volunteers. This one operated between 1942 and 1968 and in its last 8 years became an underground bunker designed to operate in a nuclear war. Exercises were carried out 4 times a year to practice for this eventuality. When it was closed the personell were transfered to St Breward where the bunker can still be seen. Bunkers were designed to operate for 3 weeks with 3 men underground safely observing the nuclear fallout! Next to the underground bunker there used to be an above ground earth made observer post used for spotting aircraft in WW2 but there is no evidence now of where that was.

Leading Trebetherick Royal Observer Corps Instructor, Howard Kent (born in 1933), kindly lent me his excellent book: Attack Warning Red, by Derek Wood, which covers the work of the ROC and shows the layout of these now mostly lost and buried bunkers.