Within a stone's throw of Princetown, Dartmoor, is a small tin mine with an unusual history.
The best account of this venture can be gleaned through Hamilton Jenkins:
"Bachelor's Hall Mine (OS 107 SW, NW), three-quarters of a mile east of Princetown, was started early in the 1790s following the discovery of a tin lode when cutting the Dock (ie Devonport) Leat. On this a shaft was sunk by Mr Gray, the owner of the estate, who subsequently erected a stamping mill and a smelting house on the banks of a small stream which empties into the Blackabrook. John Swete, who visited the mine shortly before 1797, states that it was then employing sixteen men 'two of whom worked the windlass over the shaft'. Soon after this, misunderstandings arose with Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt of Tor Royal, in consequence of which operations were abandoned. On the expiry of the original lease, Sir Thomas proposed to work the mine himself, but found difficulty in forking the wa.ter, 'the main rod of the engine was cut off just below the bob plat, leaving the pumps and pit-work standing in the shaft'. This small concern possessed a beam pumping engine, and this can only be explained by its altitude which rendered it impossible to obtain the water-power that was normally used in preference to steam in all save the largest mines of Devon.
For some time after the sett remained idle, but in 1845 a new company was formed with a twenty-one year lease from the Duchy. Its first task was to clear a deep adit which had earlier been started from the Blackabrook with the object of developing the mine 12 fathoms below the bottom of the Engine Shaft (33 fathoms from surface) where a large extent of tin ground was believed· to be standing. The adit was 7ft high and 3ft wide, and by 1846 had been cleared for a length of 60 fathoms. At this point lack of funds, combined with 'disgracefu and almost unheard of mismanagement', brought the project to a close.
Two further attempts were subsequently made to reopen the property where the tin had the reputation of fetching a highei price than any other mine on the moor. In 1853 a report by J. Sims, of the Slimeford Office, Calstock, claimed with some exaggeration that Engine Shaft was then down to 50 fathom: and that the deep adit on completion would unwater the mine 30 fathoms below the existing bottom. There was also a seconc shaft on the property named Ann's, which had been sunk tc the level of the shallow adit. In 1862 it was announced that only 120 fathoms remained to drive in the Deep Adit in order tc bring it under the old workings. This could be achieved for a relatively small sum as the lode in the adit end was 2ft wide and producing good tin stuff. The shallow adit had been driver. on a parallel lode close alongside and this could be developec by short cross-cuts from the deep adit. There is nothing tc suggest that any of these proposals bore fruit and the plan o. the mine, as described by Dines, shows Deep Adit as being stopped 200 fathoms short of its intended objective."
It is worth noting that despite the start date of the first operation being given as the cutting of the Devonport Leat in the 1790s, the open works appear to be of an older character and do not actually intersect the leat itself. In the adjacent valley the remains extensive streamworks makes one question whether the history of mining here is actually of far older precedent.
Data courtesy of Ben Sum, Helston (30/9/20).
[DRO] = Devon Records Office, Exeter
Jenkins, A K G, 1974 "Mines of Devon, Vol.1 Southern District"
[DRO] 4672A/0/HS/R288B Bachelor's Hall Mine