Living Cornwall Editor
One of the most familiar features of the Cornish skyline has disappeared behind a wall of scaffolding as part of a major conservation project.
South Crofty's symbolic headgear, which ended its productive life when the mine ceased production in 1998, is being surveyed, repaired, shot-blasted and painted.
Built in the 1950s and modified in the 1970s, the headgear – which dominates the landscape at Pool, near Camborne, is not a Listed structure and is no longer used for winding men or materials up from the mine shaft. However, it is recorded as a building of local interest on the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Historic Environment Record and is a much-loved local landmark.
Two Grade II-Listed engine houses at Chapple's Shaft, which date from the early 1800s, are also being restored. They will be re-pointed and the masonry made safe using traditional conservation skills and materials.
Project manager Mark Hughes said the operation was being led by Cornwall Council, with the preparatory work carried out by Chris Sedgeman Scaffolding Ltd of Penzance.
"It's a major undertaking," said Mr Hughes. "That's an awful lot of scaffold poles and boards. I don't envy the men up there today because it's very exposed and there is a very cold wind coming straight off the Atlantic.
"The whole thing had to be erected independently of the frame, which made it even trickier. The plan is to replace any sections that are too corroded to repair and then shot blast and paint it. It's going to look really impressive when it's done."
The heritage restoration work on the head-frame and engine houses marks the start of a wider regeneration project across the South Crofty site. It is being carried out as part of an agreement with mine owners Western United Mines to enable new development and regeneration to go ahead in the area.
John Pollard, Cornwall Council's portfolio holder for heritage, said: "It has been a longstanding ambition that this local landmark is conserved and maintained. The engine houses have also been in desperate need of consolidation to protect them. This work will help to enhance part of the World Heritage Site."
Cormac Contracting and specialist sub-contractors expect to complete the project by July. Stephen Rushworth, Cornwall Council's portfolio holder for economy and regeneration, said: "I look forward to joining the local community to celebrate the successful completion in the summer."