Mining on the edge of the earth
A stone’s throw from Land’s End, this is the most westerly Area of the Site. St Just is characterised by big skies, jagged rocks, stark moorland, and iconic clifftop engine houses perched above the Atlantic in some incredible locations. No wonder this dramatic setting has inspired generations of artists, writers and photographers.
World-famous for their mineralogy, the mining sites here are extremely well preserved – as is the sense of community amongst the people whose lives they once dominated.
This Area’s unique geography and mineralogy meant that undersea mining was more concentrated here than anywhere else in the world in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The oldest surviving Cornish beam engine (constructed in 1840) remains in its original engine house at Levant, restored and still working under steam. Geevor, one of the last mines to close in Cornwall (1990), was saved from demolition and is now the largest metalliferous mine site open to the public in the UK.
The historic mining town of St Just is home to characteristic rows of granite mine workers’ cottages, public squares, shops, cafés, art galleries and, just off Bank Square, a medieval grassed amphitheatre – the Plen an Gwary or ‘playing place’.
• Watching the waves crashing on the rocks below the Crowns engine houses at Botallack, which are perched on a narrow promontory just above the sea
• Experiencing the solitude of Ding Dong, a remote Cornish engine house sitting high up on the treeless moors that is surrounded by the remains of mine workers’ cottages and fields. The views towards Mounts Bay from here are truly breathtaking
• Walking around the beautiful Cape Cornwall – one of only two 'capes' in Britain – where an ornate solitary mine stack stands sentinel on the coast
• Exploring the town of St Just, with its characteristic rows of granite mine workers’ cottages, public squares, shops, cafés, art galleries, and historic outdoor performance space—the Plen an Gwary or ‘playing place’
• Taking a tour of Geevor Tin Mine – one of the last Cornish mines to close, it is one of only a few mine sites with extensive collections of machinery open to the public in Cornwall. The imposing headframe at Victory Shaft can be seen from miles around
• See Levant Mine, which is spectacularly sited on the cliff edge. Its beam engine has been restored by the Greasy Gang, and is driven by steam again.