Data courtesy of Roy Fellows and Roy Morton
Description below by ICLOK.
H.G.Dines, B.Acton/K.Brown, B.Atkinson
The earliest record of the mine is in the 1840’s when a shaft was sunk on the North South trending Lead-Silver Lodes typical of the Tamar Valley, however copper was discovered in an East West Lode and the mine was soon worked for that too.
Around 1849-50 a company named the Okel Tor Silver, Lead and Copper Mine was working the sett but being soon replaced by the Okel Tor Mining Co. The mine became very prosperous soon after, firstly producing lead, and eventually copper, tin and arsenic.
In 1853 a 50” x 10’ stroke engine was erected on the mine, purchased by tender from the small foundry of Distin and Chafe of Devonport. By 1864 we know that engine shaft was 80F below adit, being wound by a dual purpose 20” beam crusher/whim engine. Over the following 3 years much investment was made in building calciners and flues for arsenic production. On the edge of the sett tin was discovered and the mine upgraded in order to process it by the adding of dressing floors and a 22” stamps engine driving 24 head of stamps. The long tramming distance of the tin ore underground to the shaft hampered ease of recovery and the mine suffered heavy debts resulting in the curtailment of mining with some machinery being sold off during 1873 and the sale of the mine itself in 1874.
A new company was formed in 1876 named Okel Tor Mine to produce arsenic. This concern operated until 1881 when it became Okel Tor Co Ltd, who carried on with production and added a second hand stamps engine (ex Wheal Arthur) which was probably bigger than the earlier 22” engine that had been sold off in 1873, a replacement engine house was provided to accommodate it. The new company added New Shaft West near the whim to access copper and arsenic in the West of the sett and New Shaft East to access the tin in the East.
From 1882 to 1885 the Okel Tor Company was merged with Cotehele Consols nearby who barged ore to Okel Tor for processing, the venture was named Okel Tor and Cotehele Consols. Max output of arsenic was achieved in 1883 but tin and copper production was poor. The mine ceased production in 1885 accordingly.
The operation was bought by the Calstock Tin and Arsenic Works Syndicate Ltd in 1886 that produced more arsenic and 40T of tin but the operation was to finally close in 1887 for good having reached a depth of 112F at New Shaft East.
Recorded Outputs as Okel Tor Mines:
1859 to 1874 - 13,281T of 4% copper ore & 85T of black tin.
1855 to 78 & 1882 - 1.25T of 80% lead ore & 13,370T of mainly arsenical pyrite & 3,550T of arsenic.
With Cotehele Consols:
1882 t0 87 – 66T of 6% copper ore & 141T of black tin & 2,240T of arsenic.
The site today has extensive remains with the stamps engine houses being the best preserved and extensive remains of the 50” engine house also to be seen from above off the path. There are also some remains of the whim crusher but these are very dilapidated. There are substantial remains of dressing floors, calciners, tin plant and of the arsenic mill. Recent stabilisation work has been done and permissive paths added as part of the Tamar Valley Regeneration Project in conjunction with the owners. The site is partly on private property but access is allowed to most areas except where marked, please use discretion here and if not sure ask in advance. There is a count house and smithy on the site but these are off limits but can be seen at a distance on entering the site from the Western end.
The stamps engine house is excellent at the Eastern end of the site and has been well restored; note the slit windows which are a feature associated with mines such as Prosper United, Tregurtha Downs, South Frances, East Wheal Rose and Wheal Agar much further to the West.