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Mine buildings at 'richest square mile on earth' are preserved

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 03, 2013

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Major conservation work on one of Cornwall's most important mining complexes has been completed, at a cost of more than £270,000.

The Cornish Mining World Heritage Site announced yesterday that three historic engine houses within the Wheal Maid Valley (pictured) at Crofthandy, near Redruth, have now been saved for future generations to enjoy and learn from.

Natural England provided the £270,000 required to undertake the conservation work, with the support of Gwennap Parish Council. Wheal Maid Valley, and specifically Consolidated Mines, was described in the 19th century as "the richest square mile on earth" because of the quality and quantity of its copper. Few buildings survive on the site today, but the three engine houses are some of the oldest surviving examples in Cornwall.

Cornish Mining World Heritage Site research and information officer, Ainsley Cocks, said that without the much work the structures would have continued to deteriorate, resulting in the loss of key aspects of Cornwall's internationally acknowledged mining heritage. He said: "It was a considerable achievement to secure the funding for the works initially, and now the conservation has been completed, it is fantastic to see another important part of Cornwall's internationally known mining heritage preserved.

"The Cornish Mining World Heritage Site Partnership extends its gratitude to Natural England in particular for making the much-needed funding available and also to Gwennap Parish Council for giving so much support to this important project."

Truro-based architectural conservation consultancy pdp Green acted as project managers, while the work was carried out by conservation builders Darrock and Brown.

Senior archaeologist Ann Reynolds said: "These iconic structures have been transformed from buildings at serious risk of total collapse to fully conserved engine houses. The level of craftsmanship and skill required to achieve this has been of an exemplary standard and was carried out with the full support of an excellent team of partners."

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