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Report - - Belowda China Clay Mine - Cornwall - Oct 2019 | Mines and Quarries | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Belowda China Clay Mine - Cornwall - Oct 2019


Cortinalights

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
The forboding shell of the Standardized China Clay Company Works treatment plant building is just about all that's visible of Belowda Beacon mine, which got its raw product from the beautifully named Belovely Bottoms.

You can choose your way in from a combination of a choice between field of hard looking cows, electric fence, water filled ditch or high barbed wire fence (for obvious reasons I won't say what I found easiest).

The steel and concrete building was probably constructed in 1912 but other records show it was built in 1908, although it seems that date has perhaps been confused with another company with similar name, The Standard Clay Works.

A number of things seemed to do for the company before its closure in 1924 (elsewhere I have seen this date as 1928) with the official reason being a lack of raw product but this seems strange because the hillside below hadn't been exhausted.

Other problems appear to be its distance from the industry heartland around St Austel, a lack of water source to the site to process the raw material, which also contained too much mica, and the fact too many new innovations were being used at the site. This linked to the idea that it was not even a real mine, but a development works for a German company, far from their competitors, fuelled by rumours that none of the workers seemed to know what the upper floor of the main building was used for. This also lead to stories of the mine being a front for espionage, with the German manager staying at the nearby Victoria Inn, along with the fact that production seemed irregular and sometimes as little as two bags of China clay would turn up at Roche Station for onward transport. Near the end of the works' life a single order of 300 tons was disastrously fulfilled by using the entire China clay supply at the works.

Inside the main buildings you can still see the mounts for the Bollinder and Petter oil engines which were both direct coupled to their generators. In the building next door were the four separator machines used to refine the China clay but I found this building so overgrown that I didn't get any worthwhile photos. Behind the buildings are the now flooded open cast mines.

After closing, locals took the metal window frames and unsuccessful attempts were more recently made to remove the RSJs.

I stopped in a nearby corner shop to ask if anyone knew more of what had happened since the mine closed, just as an elderly woman walked in who the owner described as a local who was sure to know. She told me it had been destroyed in the war, possibly by a bombing raid, but I found that theory unlikely due to its remote location.

The painting is a 1940 watercolour by Ruskin Spear called 'Derelict china clay works, Belowda Beacon, Roche', which was commissioned as a national project to record historic buildings already showing the site in ruins, and the map shows the buildings in the photos as 'treatment plant buildings'. after completing the research it does infact seem there may be more worth looking at than I saw on this first trip.


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DrGonzo

Hello Officer
28DL Full Member
Great write up for this! If it's where I'm thinking of, did you find the disused explosive storage site kinda behind this down the track?
 

Cortinalights

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Great write up for this! If it's where I'm thinking of, did you find the disused explosive storage site kinda behind this down the track?
Wow explosive storage site?! No, never saw that, like a lot of stuff this was one that I just found as I drove by so I didnt know anything about it when I was there but after doing the research looks like I missed quite a bit so maybe that's something else for next time, although it was surrounded by a field of hard looking cows :oops:
 

Sga

28DL Member
28DL Member
Off that I passed the derelict building on my way to work for #20 years and never thought of it as clay. Since 1960 as a child, my father who was with the civil defence in wartime, told me it was a coastal command control building, with links to St.Mawgan, St. Eval, and another airfield near St.Wenn. If you look from thebuilding site, you have clear views to each, and a very wide view of the Atlantic coastine. Pity it was plagued by mist and fog. Just down the hill is a restored beam house for a mine that was more likely tin. I don't expect much clay from there being outside of the production area. As for explosives, possibly linked to military weapons!
 

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