Cornish Mining Dictionary

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Definitions of words used in Cornish mining.

ADIT    
An underground tunnel (usually dug level within a hillside) to allow access to a mine for drainage or the extraction of broken ore. Adits didn’t always come to the surface, sometimes leading to a pumping shaft for example.

ANGLE BOBA device used to change the direction of movement from an engine between vertical and horizontal or vice versa.

ASSAY HOUSE
The mine laboratory, where the mineral content of ore could be examined.

BALANCE BOB
Used to offset the weight of pump shaft rods so pump engine energy is focused on lifting water. Usually a counterweighted lever. 

BEAM ENGINE    
A type of steam engine much favoured in Cornwall for use in powering mine workings.

BEDSTONE    
A foundation stone (Granite) for the cylinder of an engine. See Cylinder Plat

BLACK TIN
Tin Ore after washing and ready for smelting.

BLOWING-HOUSE    
A building where Tin would be smelted. Typically small and using charcoal for fuel, larger smelting works used coal.

BOB PLAT
A wooden balcony emerging from the top of the thickest wall of an engine house (the bob wall) to provide access to the beam working.

BOB WALL
The strongest and thickest wall of an engine house, supporting the bob (beam).

BOILER HOUSE    
A small building, often next to an engine house, containing the boilers which were typically sunk below ground level.

BRATTICING
Timber work of a mine.

BUCKING    
Breaking down Copper ore further to 1cm to remove waste material. Done by women (bail maidens) using flat-faced hammers after Cobbing.

BURNING HOUSES    
A building contain a furnace and heating chamber used to burn off impurities in the ore. Typically this as sulphur but also included arsenic.

CAPSTAN    
A winding drum used to raise heavy equipment from the shaft. Often steam operated but also sometimes manually operated.

COBBING
A manual process of breaking Copper ore down into small lumps of approx. 3cm before Bucking. Carried out by bail maidens using hammers.  See Cobbing (for Copper) and Spalling (for Tin).

COUNT HOUSE    
The mine office, sometimes with accommodation, used for accounting.

CULVERT
A small tunnel carrying water. See Leat and Adit.

CYLINDER PLAT    
The large stone base or masonry base on which the cylinder of a Cornish Engine was secured (see also BEDSTONE).

DRESSING 
Preparing Tin and Copper for sale, including removal of waste, crushing, burning and washing. See Dressing Floor.

DRESSING FLOORS    
A usually large area at the surface of a mine where the various processes of ore refinement was carried out. These usually included stamping/crushing, sizing, waste and contaminant separation, drying and bagging for onward transport.

DRYS or CHANGE HOUSE
Changing rooms for workers. Sometimes heated by steam pipes from engine boilers.

DUMP or BURROW
A pile of waste material from a mine or quarry.

ENGINE HOUSE
A building containing the steam off a mine. Where these contained a beam engine they were usually large and very well built to supper the immense weight of the beam.

FINGER DUMP    
A dumping ground for waste. In construction these had flat tops to allow access by tram.

FLAT RODS    
Rods, usually made from Iron, used to transfer power from an engine or water-wheel to a remote location over distance, up to a quarter of mile.

FLUE    
A tunnel connecting the boiler furnace to a chimney.

FLYWHEEL
A wheel connected by a rank to an engine and used to store energy and provide a smooth consistent movement.

GAD
A small pointed chisel used with a hammer for mining.

HEADFRAME
The tall wooden construction over a winding shaft which carried the sheave wheels over which the ropes into the mine shaft ran.

HEAD GEAR
The wheels and other parts at the top of the Head Frame.

LAGGING BOARDS
The timber planking within the upper part of a shaft.

LAUNDER    
Channel for diverting water, often made from wood or steel. See leat.

LEAT    
An man-made channel to carry water to a mine. See Launder.

LOADING
A stone platform in front of an engine-house (or elsewhere on a mine) on which the heavy machinery of a mine, cranks, flywheels or winding drums, were housed.

LOBBY    
The cutting leading to an Adit entrance

MAGAZINE  
A store house for explosives.

MAN ENGINE
A system of lifting and lowering men up and down a mine shaft.

PELTON WHEEL    
A small waterwheel, working under high pressure and speed, in an enclosed space.

PITWORK    
Used to describe the equipment within the mine shaft.

PORTAL    
Stone or wood opening to an Adit beyond the Lobby.

SETT
The geographical area of a mine operation, marking the boundary within which miners could work. Also the name of granite blocks on which tram rails rest as opposed to wooden sleepers on railway tracks.

SHAFT    
A vertical tunnel giving access to the underground facilities of the mine.

SHEAR LEGS
A tall timber framework in front of an Engine House over a shaft and used for the installation and maintenance of timber around the pit work.

SHEAVE WHEAL 
A wheel or roller with a groove along its edge to hold a rope, often found on Shear Legs.

SPALLING
Similar to Cobbing in Copper ore but for Tin Ore. After this the ore would be broken down further by stamps.

SPRING BEAMS
A pair of heavy timbers running from the rear of an Engine House to and on either side of the Beam to stop beam motion on the building structure.

STACK
A large chimney connected by a Flue to boilers and furnaces.

STAMPS
A mechanical device for crushing ore-bearing rock to a fine sand after spalling. Driven by waterwheel or steam engine lifting and dropping heavy, often iron tipped wood beams, onto ore.

SUMP SHAFT
The deepest shaft of a mine and usually home to the engine shaft. Workers who dug and worked this shaft were known as sump men.

TAILINGS    
The waste sand and slime from a mine dressing floor, channeled into streams, over cliffs or Tailings Lagoons.

TAILRACE    
The exit channel along for water after passing over or under a water-wheel, leads back to the main water way

TIN FLOORS
Where Tin is put into bags for onward transporting.

TRAM
A temporary railway used to move material and equipment around the facilities of a mine. The wagons on a tram were usually pulled by horse or pushed by teenagers.

WATERWHEEL    
A Wheel with paddles around its periphery, and driven by the weight or force of a stream of water, used to power machines.

WHEAL
A mine.

WHEELPIT    
A stone lined structure, often dug into the ground, housing a water-wheel,

WHIM ENGINE
A steam engine, smaller than a pumping engine, used in conjunction with a flywheel or winding drum, to haul equipment etc up and down the mine shaft.

Sources:
http://www.geevor.com
https://www.cornish-mining.org.uk
http://www.aditnow.co.uk
http://www.oocities.org

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