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Robinson's Shaft

Robinson’s Shaft came to prominence around 1900-8, when it became the principal shaft of the South Crofty mine.  However, it crops up on a plan from 1833 so it took nearly 70 years for it to take centre stage.

The turning point came in 1900, when they had to deepen the shaft to exploit the tin deposits in that part of the South Crofty mine. This involved a series of colossal engineering feats. The first of which was the construction of a winding engine, finished by 1901. Next came the installation of a pumping engine, which started in 1903. They then began the usual act of building the engine house and engine in tandem. By 1908, they’d completed the pumping engine, which allowed the shaft to be sunk to 205 fathoms. By 1910, they could mine to 238 fathoms, that’s 1428 feet or 435 metres - higher than Brown Willy, the highest point in Cornwall. 

With the pumping-engine in place, the rest of the development around the shaft proceeded over the following 3-4 years. The layout was dictated by the way the different functions served the shaft, so what might appear to be a random cluster was in fact a highly organised working entity. The other early development at the shaft was the introduction of electric power, which astonishingly, seems to have taken place as early as 1910-11.

By 1967 the South Crofty mine had been reconfigured, so that the shaft at Robinson’s was used for lifting men and equipment, whilst ore was lifted at the nearby new Cook’s Shaft.  The result of the changes of the 50s and 60s is that the site as seen today is essentially the product of two phases: its original development in 1900-11, when it became the major shaft in the South Crofty complex with all the typical functions of a tin mining site, and its modernisation in 1955-65 when it was adapted to play a subsidiary role in that complex.

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