When the ore was brought up from the mine to the surface ('grass'), it had to be processed to extract as much tin as possible. This was done on the dressing floors of large mines, or at smaller stamp-mills like Tolgus. Women and children worked here, often doing heavy work like 'spalling' or 'cobbing' - breaking up the ore with long-handled hammers. The women were known as 'Bal maidens', from the Cornish word for mine, 'bal'; and they wore a traditional headdress called a Yard of Cardboard.
The Mine at Tolgus
The old mine workings in the hillside at Tolgus are part of Great North Tolgus, a copper mine, but are in no way connected with this Mill. The shaft and adit near the maze are flooded - an example of the constant battle against water which the old miners faced. An adit is a drainage tunnel driven along the natural water level,thus avoiding unnecessary pumping up the shaft.
The 12-headed Cornish Stamps
The showpiece of Tolgus: these are the only Cornish Stamps still working in Europe. At one time the valleys echoed day and night to the sound of these machines, crushing the rocky lumps of ore to powder. Tappets on the revolving barrel raise corresponding lifters on the stamp columns, whose cast-iron heads crush the ore in the 'cofers' beneath. Most small mills had only four-headed stamps, although Tolgus is not unique in having a larger set. The 14-foot water wheel which powers them dates back at least 150 years. In the old days, this was the first stage in dressing the ore.
|History of Tolgus||Stream Tin & Lode Tin||Management & Workers||12-headed Cornish Stamp||Sulpher & Arsenic Waste Disposal.|
|Water Power||The Sand House||The Slime Plant. Assaying.||Smelting||Trevithick Trust|
|TOLGUS Tin streaming at Redruth|