The Von Oyenhausen and Von Decken reference:
"The Wheal Crebor copper mine lies 2 miles Engl. south of Tavistock in Devonshire. The Tavistock Canal, completed 9 years ago, which connects the Tavy with the Tamar, goes past this mine; as well as the Crowndale mine, which is 1 mile south of Tavistock, and where there is a coke oven and a tin - smelting furnace."
From: Robert Waterhouse <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Tuesday, 17 January 2012, 11:27
Subject: Re: Capper Pass & Crowndale Smelting Works
I have been studying the surface remains at Crowndale as part of my book on
the Archaeology of the Tavistock Canal and think that I know where the
smelting house was. One building which is consistently shown on early-mid
C19 maps, not directly associated with the mine site, but immediately
adjoining it and possibly taking the tailrace of the mine's pumping &
crushing water wheel along its northern side, is the small rectangular
building now known as Crowndale Cottages, between the road and the river.
This is now a rendered pair of former Bedford Estate cottages of no
remarkable architectural form, but may hide interesting features under their
The 1806-1831 additions to the 1768 Bedford Estate Map show this as a
non-residential structure, which is odd, as on later maps it is identified
as cottages. It is not marked on the survey of the projected course of the
Tavistock Canal dated 1803 (DRO). References from the Crowndale Mine papers
in the Devon Record Office suggest it was in existence by the 1820s and the
two Prussian 'industrial spies' Carl Von Oeynhausen & Heinrich Von Dechen
refer to it in passing in their book 'Railways in England' (published in
1829, but fieldwork carried out in 1826-1827).
The mine was operated by a consortium of local businessmen (including John
Taylor) from 1799 to about 1821 (end date not certain), but was reworked in
the 1820s-30s and again in the 1840s-50s. The smelting house seems not to
have been directly associated with the mine, which in any case did not
produce much (if any) tin. It was probably only placed there as a reliable
source of water for power was available, as was the case with the other tin
smelting furnace in Tavistock, which was attached to the Mount Foundry,
opened in 1800.
I wasn't aware of any reworking of old slags from Crowndale in the early C20
and am under the impression that the old smelting house was out of use by
the 1840s and converted to a pair of cottages by the 1850s. I certainly
wasn't aware of an early C20 connection with John Taylor & Sons! This is
As I'm sure you are aware, several people, including the Bedford Estate, RW
Toll and Moses Bawden, were involved in dump reworking in the period from
c.1900 to the 1930s in the Tavistock/Tamar Valley area. I would imagine the
paperwork you have found relates to this sort of operation, though some
mines had reworking of underground deposits above adit during that period.
What is perhaps more interesting is the possibility that John Taylor &
Company had retained some sort of interest in or knowledge of the mine, from
their founder's initial working of it a century previously. Have you any
ideas on this?
I am aware that Roger Burt, in his biography of Taylor, states that the
firm's archives were destroyed in the War, but have always hoped that
documentary evidence for some of their mining ventures have survived in
I don't suppose the records mention what the assayed percentages of tin in
the slag were? That might give some idea of what type of furnace was in
operation, and its effectiveness. Might it also describe the slags, ie:
whether traces of coal or coke was present? Probably too much to hope for!
Hope this helps,
From: mining-history [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of
Sent: 14 January 2012 09:43
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Capper Pass & Crowndale Smelting Works
In looking through a collection of mainly 20thC documents relating
particularly to the Tamar Valley, have come across assay reports, invoices
etc from Capper Pass for tin slags etc. sold by the John Taylor & Sons
concern working at Crowndale in the 1920's, & also for black tin from Wheal
Emma (DGC) in the 1940's. I understand some tin from Great Work tributers in
the 1940's went to Bristol, presumably also to Capper Pass.
firstly, is anyone aware of any records - perhaps in Rio Tinto archives - of
Capper Pass purchases. Of course RTZ didn't take over Capper Pass till much
later. I have checked online catalogues for archives around the Bristol
area. On the (probably remote) chance such records do survive, it might be a
useful source for production figures from other small ventures in the South
secondly, has anyone been able to pinpoint the location of the Crowndale
smelting works (worked up to c. 1830's)? Tom Greaves' paper on Devon tin
smelting suggests the exact location was unknown. The sale of slags in the
1920's which must have originated from these works indicates it must have
been within or close to the lease area then held.