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Report (Permission Visit) - Holman's Test Mine, Camborne, Oct 23 | Underground Sites |

Report (Permission Visit) Holman's Test Mine, Camborne, Oct 23

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28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
This site is very much active, it's in the hands of a pyrotechnics company who use the tunnels for testing. I visited on an Airsoft weekend, and was given permission to have a wander around for some photos on the second day.

The History

As mining became established as the backbone of Cornish Industry, a number of supporting industries also became well established in the area, notably the Holman Company, which was formed by Nicholas Holman in 1801. Initially the company specialised in producing boilers, but they soon diversified into all forms of mining machinery. The company rose to prominence when John and James Holman patented the Cornish Rock Drill in 1881, with it soon becoming renowned around the world.

Holmans drills found major success overseas, especially in South Africa where the Holman Silver 303 Airleg Drill was used in developing mines. Airleg drills are operated by compressed air and supported on a leg to make it easier for miners to work with the considerable weight.

The company established a test mine at Carwynnen near Camborne in 1882 in order to test and demonstrate their products. This took the form of an underground extension to a granite quarry. From the 1920s, the Camborne School of Mines (CSM) were given access to the site for training purposes.

Holman also became renowned for their air compressors and were a major employer in the area, remaining active even today. The company merged with Broom and Wade in 1968 to form Compair, and continued like this until 2008 when they were bought out by the US based Gardner Denver. The Camborne operation was closed in 2003 with the loss of 184 jobs, but Compair still have UK manufacturing sites in Ipswich and Redditch.

After the Camborne operation closed, ownership of the mine was passed to the CSM. It was used to teach mining related techniques such as surveying, drilling and explosives use. It is the third mine that CSM have used, with the King Edward and Great Condurrow Tin Mines being used prior (more detail on those in my Headstocks report).

CSM sold the site in May 2017, and it is now owned by Event Horizon Pyrotechnics, who use it for product development and testing underground. They also have a contract with the MOD for the disposal of old munitions and occasionally the decommissioning of larger old guns, which they do by blowing them up! Sounds like great fun that... They also perform destructive testing on jet engines, using explosives to blow off pieces of turbine to test the resilience of the outer casing.

The Explore

The mine is split into two distinct sections which are linked by a series of adits. I started in the left hand tunnel as I knew my way around there from the previous day's gameplay, and turns out it's the more interesting side anyway. As soon as you walk in, there's a tally board to track how many men are in the mine.

Tunnel Map -

There is a small workshop situated in an adit, but this is off limits and near the entrance and there were marshals everywhere, so I skipped it unfortunately.

Proceeded down a smaller side tunnel from the main entrance which soon opens out into a full size tunnel.
This is where the numerous adits linking to the other tunnel are situated. Some of these have blast doors which was interesting to see.
There are holes everywhere you look from the mine's previous life as a test location for drills, along with the odd test heading. There is some trackwork remaining in this section, including a sloped section which leads to a dead end.

Trackwork -

Drill Holes -


Drill Oil -


Pump -

Continued round the tunnels, reaching the rear of this section where there is some odd bits of equipment lying around, including a Rock Shovel. Not sure of the manufacturer, there wasn't anything useful on it to tell from what I could see. A post on a Welsh colliery forum by someone who's visited suggests that it is an Atlas Copco Rocker Shovel.

There was another Rock Shovel located in a different test heading which was identifiable. It's an Eimco 21B, a very common rock shovel that was used in many minesall over the world. It pulled tubs behind it to tip spoil into and was available both as a rail mounted machine and tracked, and generally powered by compressed air, although apparently electric versions were also available. They are still manufactured today in India.

The tracks continue for a short while, but I'm not sure if the rest have been lifted, or are just buried under the mud. They can be picked up further around the tunnels, and they meet up with an inclined plane to a higher level, with a little turntable to orientate the tubs to be pulled up via a pulley system.

Incline Signals -

Incline -

Small Tally Board for workers up the incline -
Didn't climb to the top, as again this was off limits, and hard to keep tabs of where the marshals were, they were chronographing around the corner, and didn't really fancy being told to leave :lol

Made my way into the other tunnel via one of the adits and immediately came across some fans used for ventilation, probably the most interesting part of this section, not much else to be seen really.
DSC08988 (1).jpg
The side tunnels immediately off the main heading are being used for storage presumably by the mine owners, couldn't see much of interest though, mostly pallets of bricks.

Had a wander around, the main tunnels in this section form a triangle, and there are numerous test headings and chambers that have been driven, but they're all empty. One was flooded however and it looked to go quite far.
There's a third smaller tunnel that heads underground from the outside, but this is yet again off limits and I wasn't allowed anywhere near it. It doesn't appear on the map either, so I'd presume it's a dead end.

That's pretty much it, the site also makes use of a Quarry situated above the mine, which has a few props for gameplay including a Willy's Jeep and a plane of some description.
Only got some quick phone shots up here, as I was only up there during gameplay and it's a little hard to grab photos whilst being shot at :oo



Thanks for looking!