At the western end of the lode where it was only 100ft or so below surface.
There are extensive tips of crushed killas with a high arsenic content.
1844, the phenomenally-rich Wheal Maria was discovered. From then until 1920
Wheal Maria produced copper, lead and arsenic. It was part of the
Devon Great Consuls mine – at one time the world’s largest producer of copper.
Copper production reached its peak in 1857, but by the 1880’s Devon Consols
relied upon arsenic for its business.
1844 26 July: It was announced that a new Devonshire mining company agreed
a lease with the Duke of Bedford’s land agent to sink a mine in Blanchdown Woods,
on the Devon bank of the Tamar.
1844 10 August: Work began on the mine known as `Wheal Maria’ named after the
Duke of Bedford’s wife. The first shaft was named `Gard’s’ shaft after William
Morris Snr’s partner in Sanderson & Co.
1844 November 1844 : Rich deposits of copper were found in `Gard’s’ shaft just
18 fathoms from the surface. The lode was 40 feet in width and stretched eastwards
for over two miles. A whole series of mines were subsequently opened along the
1845 25 March 1845 : The Devonshire Great Consolidated Copper Mining Co. was
registered as a joint stock company. William Morris Snr and his brother, Thomas,
owned 304 of its 1,024 shares. William Morris Snr was appointed trustee and
auditor. Other Devon Great Consols were Wheal Fanny, Wheal
Anna Maria, Wheal Josiah, and Wheal
1851, ARCHELAUS TREGONNING, born 1800 in Gwennap, was Mine Agent for Devon
Great Consols at Tavistock. Mining conditions were certainly not healthful then
and a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Mines was formed in the 1860’s. In a
report dated August, 1862, they wrote of a 61-year old miner who had been employed
for 14 years at Wheal Maria. “Came to Wheal Maria where
he worked for 14 years on tribute chiefly, but some tut work. Worked in very
bad air there in the 40 level about 60 or 79 fathoms from the shaft. ‘It shortened
my breath, but did not lay me up, and I did not think anything of it.'”The
Report stated that this miner had been suffering from a bad cough and spat blood
for about three month intervals, lost flesh for about two years,and complained
of “weakness and shortage of breath, sinking in the chest, and palpitation
of heart on going uphill.”
1864 a former miner from Tavistock reported to the Commission that working
in Wheal Maria in bad air had “shortened his breath.”