Wheal Coates

Wheal Coates is one of the best known tin mines in Cornwall. It has a spectacular clifftop location on the north coast of Cornwall, close to the village of St Agnes. Tin mining is first recorded at this site in the late 17th century, however mining only started in earnest in 1802 when steam engines became available to pump water from the mine shafts. Mining at Wheal Coates continued on and off throughout the 19th century, and even continued up to 1914, when the mine closed for good. The present buildings consist of the Towanroath engine house which was used to pump water from the Towanroath shaft, and higher up the hillside are two engine houses known as Old Whim and New Whim. All these buildings date from the mid to late 19th Century.

Location and Parking

Postcode: TR5 0NU

From the A30, turn off at Chiverton Cross onto the B3277 towards St Agnes (Note that the roundabout at Chiverton Cross has been re-engineered in 2023). Continue along the B3277 into St Agnes, then on reaching the village, turn left at a small roundabout onto Goonvrea Road. After 0.8 miles, turn right onto Beacon Drive and the National Trust car park for Wheal Coates is reached after a further 0.5 miles. The car park is on the left, and is easy to miss, but is just after the road bends to the right. From the car park, it is a 300 yard walk to the mine buildings.

Wheal Coates

Wheal Coates sits on the north coast of Cornwall, but faces out to the west. Therefore the best time of day for photography is at sunset. As the sun sets out to sea, it can cast a wonderful golden light onto the mine buildings. There is a group of upper buildings, consisting of two Whim engine houses (Old Whim and New Whim) and a chimney. Whims were used to haul material to the surface and could be located some distance from the mine shaft.

Whim Engine Houses At Wheal Coates

The Old Whim building in particular can be photographed in isolation, looking out to sea.

Old Whim at Wheal Coates

Towanroath Engine House

Towanroath Engine House is situated below the Whim Houses in a spectacular setting overlooking the sea. The building dates from 1872 and was used to pump water from the Towanroath mine shaft, which descended 600ft and ran out under the sea.

Towanroath Engine House

The South West coastal path runs directly past Towanroath. In the summer when the hillside is covered in heather, the path provides a colourful leading line to the engine house.

Towanroath Engine House

There is a fine view of the engine house from the west which shows off the chimney and empty windows. From this direction it is difficult to work the sea into the scene, but there are many wild flowers that can be used to add foreground interest.

Towanroath Engine House

The Coastal Path At Wheal Coates

Walking a short distance west along the coastal path gives a more open view back towards Wheal Coates. Once again, summer wild flowers can create an attractive foreground.  Just beyond the view in the image below, the path turns left to drop to the beach at Chapel Porth, so the view to the mine is lost.

Wheal Coates From The Coastal Path

If the coastal path is followed to the east of Wheal Coates, the next prominent feature is St Agnes Head, which is reached in just under a mile. The headland is also owned by the National Trust, and there is a car park nearby. From the headland, there is a fine view back towards Wheal Coates perched above Chapel Porth beach.

View From St Agnes Head

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