The Cornish Beam Engine at Levant is to receive the Engineering Heritage Award from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers for its restoration and contribution to Cornish mining history.
In its dramatic clifftop setting Levant was, for 110 years, ‘the queen of Cornwall’s submarine mines’. Part of the Tin Coast the mine workings of Levant extend over a mile out under the sea bed and in its first 20 years of business, £170,000 was made from mining copper – some £14 million today. However despite its success Levant is also known for its tragedy. In 1919, the man engine, which was the machine taking miners to and from the surface, suffered a failure just before reaching the top and 31 men were killed. This was devastating for the mine and the surrounding community; it left 75 children fatherless and was a great loss to the families in the area with almost everyone being related in some way to the lost men.
After the disaster the mine steadily declined and in 1930 shut as an active mine. The Cornish winding engine, which hauled tin and copper ore from the mine, lay dormant until 1984. At this time with permission from the National Trust, a group of Trevithick Society volunteers started work to restore it. It has now run under live steam for public viewing for 25 years, and in 2017 over 33,000 people visited the mine. Since opening to the public, the mine site has been transformed to show the extent of the mining carried out at Levant which is part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Landscape.
This will be the 120th Engineering Heritage Award to be presented by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. The awards, established in 1984, aim to promote artefacts, sites or landmarks of significant engineering importance – past and present.
For more information on visiting Levant mine see- https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/levant-mine-and-beam-engine