No longer in use

THE CORNISH COUNTRYSIDE often seems wild and almost at the end of the earth. It is richly dotted with reminders of its industrial past, much of which was concerned with mining minerals, notably tin bearing ores. The tiny hamlet of Cripplesease lies on a road that links St Ives with Penzance (the B3311). On a hill north of the place and high above it stands a ruined tower (with arched windows and large doorways) built with granite blocks. Standing on a square plot, this edifice has a gently tapering conical chimney attached to its southeast corner.

This tower is almost all that remains to be seen of the Giew Mine, first worked in the 18th century. It was one of many sites where tin was extracted from the depths of the earth. The tower was used from between when it was built in 1874 and when the mine was closed in 1922. The tower housed a pump engine and the winding gear for Frank’s Shaft, which was sunk to a depth of 1302 feet. Initially steam powered (hence the chimney), an electrically operated system was later installed close to the tower. The electricity for this was provided by a generator also located near the tower.

Ore that was brought to the surface was taken from the tower and moved to an ore crushing facility across the B3311. It was transported across the road by an overhead tramway, which has long since been removed. The tower, whose arches reminded me of Romanesque buildings can be entered. When I visited it, there was a spooky sound echoing within it. Looking upwards towards the open sky that can be seen because the tower has lost its roof I saw that it was being created by a solitary crow perched high up on one of the walls.

The old engine house is easily accessed by a gravel track that leads off the B3311. The unmarked track leads to a small car park, and the remains of the tower are a few feet away.

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