SW3632 : West Wheal Owles, Scene of a Mining Disaster

taken 11 years ago, near to Botallack, Cornwall, Great Britain

West Wheal Owles, Scene of a Mining Disaster
West Wheal Owles, Scene of a Mining Disaster
In 1893 a short burial service was held near this place for the 20 miners who were drowned when Wheal Owles mine was inundated by water early in January that year. One of the enduring fears of mining communities the world over is of having the bodies of men killed underground left down the mine yet that is exactly what happened here. At the time of the disaster 41 men and boys were underground and the mine workings filled with a ferocious speed, from the 120 fathom sump to sea level at 30 fathoms in twenty minutes. A complete section of rock separating the mine workings from old water-filled workings had collapsed. There had been previous smaller incidents of holing through to old workings at Wheal Owles and the mine agents were aware that the surveying which told them the position of the old workings was less accurate than it might have been. After the disaster it was discovered that there was insufficient pumping power at the mine to drain the workings and recover the bodies. To install a sufficiently large pumping engine would have cost the mine 4,000 which was more than the investors were prepared to pay. A disaster fund for the dependants was started and reached 3,295. Some of the victims relatives threatened legal action against the mine but most were dissuaded. One who went through with it was awarded 25. Wheal Owles itself closed, never to reopen. The mine by this time was a shadow of its former self with most of the older workings inland having been already closed.

The engine house on the right of the photo is Wheal Edwards Stamps which used to house the engine to power the ore crushing machinery (stamps) At the centre is the remains of the West Wheal Owles whim (winding) engine house. The Cargodna pumping engine house is out of shot to the right. The other side of the granite block in the foreground has a plaque which carries the names of those who died in the disaster.
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SW3632, 51 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Saturday, 7 July, 2007   (more nearby)
Tuesday, 10 July, 2007
Industrial heritage > Industrial heritage   (more nearby)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SW 361 327 [100m precision]
WGS84: 50:8.1591N 5:41.6570W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SW 362 328
View Direction
Southwest (about 225 degrees)
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