Poldark: behind the scenes

The BBC’s award-winning adaptation of Winston Graham's Poldark novels returns for a second season this autumn and once again many of our coastal places in Cornwall take centre stage.

The series follows the return of Ross Poldark, played by Aidan Turner, from the American War of Independence. Finding his Cornwall family home in ruins and his former sweetheart engaged to his cousin, he works to resurrect his fortunes and develops a new love interest.

Shining a light on Cornwall’s mining heritage

Much of the action takes place against the backdrop of our Cornish cliffs, secret coves and iconic engine houses.

The fictional family mine that Ross Poldark tries to bring back to prosperity was filmed at Botallack Mine. The derelict stone engine house which clings perilously to the cliff edge, doubles up as Wheal Leisure.

" Botallack is an incredible building because you get a real sense of the connection back to the past. "
- Margaret Mitchell, series producer
For the cast and crew, the historic authenticity gained by filming at real locations is paramount to the series’ success. 
 
‘Botallack is an incredible building because you get a real sense of the connection back to the past,’ says series producer Margaret Mitchell.
 
‘Actors are looking for truth in their performances and the real locations definitely add to this. In the show Ross goes and touches the stonework as he’s contemplating what route he’s going to take with the Wheal Leisure mine. It’s mind-blowing when you think of all the lives that have been lived in the places we film at.’
 

Building Poldark’s Cornwall

Anthony Power, the custodian for Levant Mine and Beam Engine worked closely with the production team to help bring the mines back to life. Levant appears as Tressiders Rolling Mill, where the copper from the Poldark mine is processed. 
 
‘I worked with the designers to advise on how the mine would have looked on the surface in the late 18th century – a difficult task as there are no photographs from that period and not many images.’
 
The crew built new timber structures, including winches to haul buckets of ore to the surface. The roofs of the engine-houses were recreated digitally by the visual effects team.
 
" So much of the piece came alive when we were filming in Cornwall and everyone found their character in the outdoors. "
- Eleanor Tomlinson, actress (Demelza)

Coastal locations inspire Poldark cast

The locations also had an impact on the Poldark cast. ‘So much of the piece came alive when we were filming in Cornwall and everyone found their character in the outdoors,’ said Eleanor Tomlinson, who plays Demelza Carne, Poldark’s love interest.
 
This article first appeared in the autumn 2016 edition of National Trust Magazine. Original author - Helen Beer.
The surface remains of Levant Mine, near St Just, Cornwall, including stacks and beam engine houses

Visit Poldark's Cornwall 

Ever wondered where the windswept cliff scenes in Poldark were filmed? Or whether you can visit the secret coves and mines? Here's the inside knowledge on where to go and see the locations for yourself.