West Wheal Owles

Cornwall Information & Accommodation Guide

West Wheal Owles on the cliffs on the right

West Wheal Owles on the cliffs on the right

West Wheal Owles, also known as Cargodna Mine, stands high on the cliffs between Botallack and Cape Cornwall.

Its name translates from Cornish as 'place of work on a cliff', 'owles' being a corruption of the Cornish word 'als' meaning 'cliff' with 'wheal' meaning a 'place of work (in this case a mine)'.

Between 1837 and 1893 West Wheal Owles (pronounced ‘Oals’) produced over 8540 tons of black tin and 340 tons of copper.

At its peak in 1884 the mine employed 287 people - 105 underground and 182 on the surface.

The mine was an amalgamation of several much older mines including Wheal Drea. It was Wheal Drea which proved to be its downfall when in January 1893 the miners broke into what is termed a ‘house of water’, the flooded workings of the former Wheal Drea mine. The huge surge of sea water which flooded into West Wheal Owles trapped more than 30 men. A few managed to escape but 19 miners and one boy were drowned. Their bodies were never recovered. You will see a plaque near the back of the engine house which commemorates those who lost their lives. Their names are: William Davey; William Eddy; James Rowe; William Roberts; John Taylor & Mark Taylor (brothers); James Edwards Trembath and Edward White who drowned on level 65; Thomas Ellis; Peter Dale; James Thomas; James Williams who drowned on level 75; Thomas Allen; John Grose &Thomas Grose (father and son); John Olds; William Stevens Thomas; Charles Hitchens Thomas; Lewis Blewett Wilkins and Edward Williams who died on level 85 of the mine.

The pumping engine house of West Wheal Owles features in the latest adaptation of Poldark as Ross Poldark's copper mine, Wheal Leisure.

A short distance away are the remains of another engine house, now only a part of a wall remains. This was the West Wheal Owles (Cargodna) winding engine house.

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West Wheal Owles - Visitors enjoying Poldark's 'Wheal Leisure'
West Wheal Owles - Visitors enjoying Poldark's 'Wheal Leisure'

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