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South Crofty headgear's restoration tells the story of rich mining heritage

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 14, 2013

By Simon Parker, Living Cornwall Editor

  • Scaffolding goes up on the headgear when the refurbishment began

  • The newly repainted head gear of South Crofty Mine near Camborne shines in the October sun Picture: Colin Higgs

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The completion of restoration work on one of Cornwall's most familiar landmarks has been greeted with delight by residents whose view is dominated by the iconic structure.

Emerging from a cage of several thousand scaffold poles, the repaired and repainted headgear at South Crofty mine in Pool, between Redruth and Camborne, is a reminder of the area's rich mining heritage.

Councillor Malcolm Moyle said: "I am delighted this work has been done because it is something we in the local community have wanted to see for many years. We are proud of our mining history and the head frame ensures we retain a link between the height of industrialisation and the economic development of the area today."

The Cornwall Council-led project involved the complete refurbishment of the New Cooks Kitchen headgear and two Grade II listed engine houses at Chapple's Shaft. It was carried out with the agreement of Western United Mines (WUM), which owns the site, to enable development and regeneration to go ahead in the area.

WUM chief executive Alan Shoesmith said: "The refurbishment is a significant milestone of the ongoing restoration which forms part of the area's regeneration programme. It demonstrates both the continued spirit and the significance of the co-operation framework agreement between the mine and Cornwall Council."

The work to ensure the structure's survival was a huge undertaking for the council and its contractors. Specialist teams erected 900 tonnes of scaffolding around the headgear, using 20,000 fittings, 800 boards and 16 lifts. The 1950s structure was then repaired, grit blasted and repainted.

Work on the two 19th century buildings is expected to be completed by the middle of November. The pumping house and its detached chimney were built in 1838 and equipped with a 50-inch cylinder, while the winder house was built in 1865 with a 26-inch cylinder. Extensive re-pointing has been undertaken to both granite buildings and the masonry made safe using traditional conservation skills and materials. The work was led by staff from Cormac Contracting Ltd, Cornwall Council's Economic Development and Historic Environment services, and Cornwall Development Company.

Councillor Julian German, Cornwall Council portfolio holder for economy and culture, said: "The council has worked closely with various partners to deliver this project and we look forward to continuing to work with them to ensure the potential economic benefits are realised."

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