Wheal Prosper pumping engine house 210m south of Eastcliff Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021165

Date first listed: 18-Jul-1979

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Feb-2004


Ordnance survey map of Wheal Prosper pumping engine house 210m south of Eastcliff Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Breage

National Grid Reference: SW 59373 27015


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

For several millennia the western part of the South West Peninsula, namely Cornwall and West Devon, has been one of the major areas of non-ferrous metal mining in England. It is defined here as prospecting, extraction, ore processing and primary smelting/refining, and its more important and prolific products include copper, tin and arsenic, along with a range of other materials which occur in the same ore bodies. Throughout much of the medieval period most of the tin was extracted from streamworks, whilst the other minerals were derived from relatively shallow openworks or shafts. Geographically, Dartmoor was at the peak of its importance in this early period. During the post-medieval period, with the depletion of surface deposits, streamworking gradually gave way to shaft mining as the companion to openworking methods. Whilst mining technology itself altered little, there were major advances in ore processing and smelting technologies. The 18th century saw technological advances turning to the mining operations themselves. During this period, Cornish-mined copper dominated the market, although it was by then sent out of the region for smelting. The development of steam power for pumping, winding and ore processing in the earlier 19th century saw a rapid increase in scale and depth of mine shafts. As the shallower copper-bearing ores became exhausted, so the mid to late 19th century saw the flourish of tin mining operations, resulting in the characteristic West Cornish mining complex of engine houses and associated structures which is so clearly identifiable around the world. Correspondingly, ore processing increased in scale, resulting in extensive dressing floors and mills by late in the 19th century. Technological innovation is especially characteristic of both mining and processing towards the end of the century. In West Cornwall, these innovations relate chiefly to tin production, in East Cornwall and West Devon to copper. Arsenic extraction also evolved rapidly during the 19th century, adding a further range of distinctive processing and refining components at some mines; the South West became the world's main producer in the late 19th century. From the 1860s, the South West mining industries began to decline due to competition with cheaper sources of copper and tin ore from overseas, leading to a major economic collapse and widespread mine closures in the 1880s, although limited ore-extraction and spoil reprocessing continued into the 20th century. A sample of the better preserved sites, illustrating the technological and chronological range, as well as regional variations, of non-ferrous metal mining and processing sites, together with rare individual component features, are considered to merit protection.

The Wheal Prosper engine house 210m south of Eastcliff Farm survives well in a prominent location on the coastal footpath between Praa Sands and Porthleven. The design, while typical overall of a Cornish engine house, has the unusual feature of an additional pair of girder pockets located immediately above the bottom chamber windows. The presence of the Wheal Trewavas engine houses nearby to the south east demonstrates well the grouping of mines working extensions of the same mineral lodes.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the Wheal Prosper pumping engine house south of Rinsey. Wheal Prosper was a short-lived tin and copper mine that was in operation between 1860 and 1866 on the cliffs above Porthcew. Its engine house was constructed at the commencement of mining operations and housed a 30-inch steam engine in order to pump water from the adjacent engine shaft. The engine house is a Listed Building Grade II.

The engine house is constructed on a rectangular slate-stone plinth and has a circular chimney adjoining. Built in the typical Cornish style of three floors and a cataract pit, the fabric is of uncoursed slate-stone rubble incorporating some granite blocks, with dressed granite quoins for the wall corners and openings. Parallel timber and concrete lintels are used to head the wall openings and the house has the unusual feature of an additional pair of girder pockets located immediately above the bottom chamber windows. The machinery, floors and roof structure of the engine house have been removed. The engine boiler house has been largely removed but its position is indicated by some wall footings adjacent to the north western corner of the engine house, but is not included in the scheduling. The chimney is constructed of slate-stone rubble rising to red brick over its upper third and collar.

The adjacent coastline from Rinsey Head to Trequean Cliff experienced much mining activity during the 19th century leaving a variety of scattered earthwork and built remains including two other engine houses on the cliff top at Wheal Trewavas, 750m to the south east.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 35824

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Brown, K, Acton, B, Exploring Cornish Mines - Volume 2, (1995)
Herring, P, Kerrier Shaft Capping Contracts 3 and 4, (1992)
Laws, P, Cornish Engines, (1993)
6/183, Wheal Prosper engine house - Listing description, (1987)
Copper Co7, Brown, A, MPP Non-ferrous metals industries step 4 report - appendix III, (1998)
PRN 29281.01, Cornwall County Council, HER Sites and Monuments Record, (2002)
Title: 1st Edition 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map Source Date: 1880 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 2nd Edition 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map Source Date: 1907 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing