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Robinson's Engine

The pumping engine at Robinson’s Shaft is a gloriously well-preserved example of a Cornish engine. It worked at this site between 1903 and 1955.

The engine was designed by Captain Samuel Grose, a pupil of Richard Trevithick, and was built by Sandys Vivian and Co. at the Copperhouse Foundry, one of the two major engineering works at Hayle.  Apart from its state of preservation, and the fact that it continued to work until the 1950s, another claim to fame of this engine is that it experienced being moved no less than four times:

  • first erected at the Wheal Alfred mine near Hayle, where it worked 1855-64

  • moved to Wheal Abraham near Crowan, when it worked 1865-75

  • after a period of idleness moved to Tregurtha Downs mine near Marazion, where it worked 1883-95/1899- 1902 (the gap being because of the collapse of tin pieces in the mid-1890s)

  • re-erected for the final time at Robinson’s Shaft in 1903

If you think of shifting a house, bricks, mortar and all, you might begin to understand the complexity of this operation. Despite all these moves the engine as seen today is essentially as it was first built in 1854-5

Robinson’s Engine stopped working at 1.15pm on 1 May 1955, the last Cornish Engine to work on a Cornish Mine.

Robinson’s Engine is currently undergoing more restoration work (it’s a bit like painting the Forth Bridge), but you can still go on guided tours to see this magnificent engine and talk to our restoration team about the processes involved along with all the blood, sweat and tears. Once restored, the engine will run again using a hydraulic system. We believe in protecting the environment and we use renewable energy across Heartlands, so for now, the engine will not be run on steam.

For guided tours of the Engine House, please visit our events page, or pop into the Visitor Centre Reception on arrival at Heartlands.

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