mount wellington | plan b

A solid stone staircase with rickety and bent handrails lead down to the second plateau and main processing areas of the mine.

Originally called Magpie Mine, the site was active in Victorian times, mining tin and lead. Tapping into a rich seam of metals and minerals, it was part of the Old Consuls, a collection of mines which collectively probably gave Twelveheads its name.

"Magpie Mine was never part of Consolidated Mines (Cosols) I don't think. The Consols sett only came as far down the valley as Wheal Fortune, (which is the mine with the old chimney stacks you refer to in the background of one of your photos.)"

"Twelveheads is so named because in the early days of mining it was where much of the ore was processed: they used machines called stamps to crush the ore, which are basically heavy wooden or metal rods arranged vertically - a cam lifted them up and then they fell onto the ore. The rods were called heads, and there were a total of twelve!" - Griffin

It was formally abandoned in 1938 as the mines became economical. Limited underground exploration continued up until 1941, but gradually the old workings fell into disuse.

The ground was littered with twisted metal and rubbish. The main processing building was battered and punctured. The owners had attemtped some barricades against the curious but it was ultimately a futile gesture as the number of holes steadily grew.

At this point, I'd walked around the entire site; it was barren, uncared for, stripped out and very derelict. The cold winter wind whipped up the valley and rattled the loose corrugated iron on the buildings. A storm was brewing.

A long steel cable snaked around the site, here making a handy tripwire. It wasn't until later that I realised this was the original lift cable, used to haul the miners and their ore up the shaft (you can see it snaking from left to right in the picture below).

In the distance on the horizon, the towers of a much earlier derelict Victorian mine could be seen. (Wheal Fortune). Most are now beautified ruins, looked after by The National Trust and other preservationist bodies. Now that the headgear had been cruelly hacked from Mount Wellington, I didn't think this mine had much of a chance of surviving much longer.