The two engine houses which form part of the scattered remains of Wheal Trewavas grace the cliffs to make a spectacular sight but caution should be exercised on some of the coastal paths near the site. Anyone fit enough to get to the engine houses is warned not to enter as the houses themselves are in a bad state of repair and are dangerous. The walls on the seaward side of the engine houses are taller to compensate for the slope of the steep cliffs. Near to the houses is evidence of a boiler house and the sockets for the roof truss can be seen in the wall along with traces of white limewash above the roof line. When they were erected most engine houses were limwashed to help protect the lime mortar from being leached out by the wind and rain. A circular flat area beyond the boiler house is one of Cornwall’s best surviving ‘manual capstan plats’ it is remarkable that this plat still exists as it is in a very exposed position and it is regularly used by helicopter pilots from Culdrose for landing practice.
Wheal Trewavas traded for a relatively short time but was by all accounts a successful mine, it was opened in 1834 and a plan of the time shows four copper lodes and one tin lode. The south east copper lode continued out under the sea and a small pumping engine and a steam whim were built on the south lode. Ore was carried to the cliff top by a horse whim the evidence can still be seen today as it is possible to spot where the rock has been cut to enable the ore to be pulled up the incline.
Conflicted accounts are given for the mines demise, one popular story goes that an annual dinner was planned to take place underground strangely enough out under the sea but when the tables were being laid it was noticed that water was dripping onto the food. The meal was abandoned and by all accounts left to the fishes and that was the end of Wheal Trewavas.
Another reason given for the closure of Wheal Trewavas was the fact that the company’s business affairs were not all they should be and there was a suspicion that the dividends were being paid out of bank overdrafts. Whatever story was true or partially true the mine closed in May 1846 after trading for only twelve years. http://www.phdcsm.freeserve.co.uk/rinsey.htm