Tolgus Tin Mill is a unique survivor. From the heyday of tin where nearby Redruth was one of the richest towns in England, to the lows of the 1980s industry crash, the mill has witnessed 150 years of highs and lows.
Now 150 years on, the mill has entered a new chapter, one where it is once again a hub of activity, not only a visitor attraction, but also producing and smelting tin. We thought it was about time we familiarised ourselves with our county’s most renowned heritage.
Situated on the site of Cornwall Gold, the mill is the only original tin streaming works left in Cornwall and is a testament to human ingenuity and endeavour.
We were led through the whole process of recovering tin from the simplest of materials through to the finished products.
A mix of old and new can be found side by side, with shaking tables from the 50s to the mighty Cornish stamps which are thought to be more than 200 years old.
Amid the whirling machines we learnt how using simple principles of relative weight allowed tin streamers to isolate the heavier tin, how rock from local mine waste was pulverised by huge stamping machines and how sand and river deposits were sifted, washed and sorted to isolate precious tin ore.
But it’s the stories behind the talented ‘make do and mend’ mine workers that bring the mill to life.
Time your visit to arrive on smelting day and you’ll have the opportunity to see the fascinating and almost beautiful process of heating the tin ore and turning it to shining ingots ready to be transformed into jewellery.
Tolgus Tin Mill is a time capsule of Cornish history waiting to be discovered.
Tolgus Tin Mill can be found at Tolgus Mill, Redruth Cornwall, TR16 4HN.
Free admission and parking. Open peak: Mon to Sat 9.30pm to 5.30pm, Sunday and off Peak: 10am to 4.30pm. For more information call 01209 215185.