Delving into the past at Porkellis

Over the past two years I’ve been working on an archaeological project on Tyack’s engine house at Porkellis Moor, which is part of the historic Penrose Estate in the old mining village of Porkellis. We were aiming to understand more about the mining archaeology in the area and to preserve some of the historic features, which are part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site. The site consists of the engine house, which is a scheduled monument, the shaft, a smithy, a magazine, a flat rod trench and a balance bob pit.

The first phase of the project was to conduct a survey and produce a report on the archaeological and built heritage at Tyack’s engine house, detailing the historic development and the site’s present day context. Once this was complete, the second phase of the project was to carry out repair works identified by the report. 
The report uncovered some interesting findings. Tyack’s engine house dates to 1859 and is a rare surviving example in the Wendron Mining District. It was constructed to facilitate the deep shaft mining of the Tymorgie Lodes and represents and important phase in the development of mining and extraction techniques in the area. Not only was it a vital building for the industry in the 19th century, but it now acts as a symbol of this once dominant local industry and testifies to Porkellis’s role at the heart of the tin industry.  
Building work began on site at the end of the summer. The ivy was cleared off the engine house and the out buildings were repointed with lime mortar. One of the biggest jobs was to cover the shaft with a metal grid, so that it was safe enough to remove the old barbed wire fence. 
Now the work is complete we are aiming to keep the buildings free from ivy and to keep the vegetation under control so that these beautiful, historic buildings can be seen. 
The previous owners of Penrose, the Rogers family, bought part of Porkellis Moor in the 1930s in order to close down the mines to stop pollution flowing into the River Cober and eventually into Loe Pool further downstream. The National Trust inherited this along with Penrose when the Rogers kindly donated the estate in 1974.
With thanks to Natural England for part funding this project through a Higher Level Stewardship agreement, MRDA Architects and MC Quick building contractors.
Laura Bailey - Ranger