Wheal Prosper Mine


It occurred to me that many people reading this blog may not know a lot about these iconic buildings dotted around the Cornish landscape and particularly along the coast. The story of the miners of Cornwall can be found on my original Travel Words blog where there are also several other Cornish posts. Today I will simply explain the meaning of the word ‘Wheal‘.

Originally a Cornish term for a place of work it later became ‘mine’ or ‘shaft’.

Wheal Prosper, built in 1860 lies at Rinsey Head, between Penzance and Helston on the southern coast of West Cornwall. The land you can see in the background is the Lizard. England’s southernmost point.

Easy to access from a small National Trust car park, this engine houseΒ is on the coastal path from Praa Sands to the west and Porthleven to the east. There is a small sandy beach below accessed down a rather steep track which I may take you to at some time.



  1. A whole new(ish) world to explore and share – landscape and ruins. (IS it a ruin?)

    1. Heyjude says:

      It is a ruin. So many of these dotted around the landscape. I’m not making a concentrated effort to track them down, but when they appear it is hard to ignore them.

  2. I wonder if the mine did prosper? You do have some beautiful scenery to enjoy in your new area, Jude.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Actually, no it didn’t. Perhaps a warning when naming something.

      1. It’s kind of like tempting fate to use such a positive name.

        1. Heyjude says:

          Exactly πŸ™‚ Like naming a girl child Princess!

        2. Exactly! Asking for trouble

  3. Tish Farrell says:

    Wonderful shots, Jude. So atmospheric these monuments to the age-old human drive to exploit whatever natural resources were/are to hand.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I could spend a looong time photographing all these mines!

  4. beetleypete says:

    All these names from my childhood. Praa Sands, Porthleven. They bring the memories flooding back, and thankfully, The Lizard seems to be unchanged.
    Regards as always, Pete. x

    1. Heyjude says:

      I think this coast is pretty much untouched compared to the north coast, though there is a caravan park at Praa Sands (where I stayed with my kids in 1991).

  5. Every time I read the word “wheal”, the voice in my head puts on a Scottish accent and turns it into “Weeeeeell”.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I might have known it would be you H, but yes, now you come to mention it… πŸ˜€

      1. joannesisco says:

        hehehee … I was thinking it, but MOSY said it πŸ˜€

        1. Heyjude says:

          You are as bad as her!

        2. joannesisco says:

          No, there’s only one MOSY πŸ˜‰

        3. Heyjude says:

          πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

  6. Sue says:

    This brings back a ton of memories ….. I really must get back to Cornwall…

  7. I love these wheals and can’t wait to see them again in July! I enjoy your blog as it feels like being on holiday for me!

    1. Heyjude says:

      Feels like being on holiday to me still – not sure when it will start feeling like home!

  8. On our visit to Cornwall a couple of years ago, we saw many of these wonderful Wheals. I’d love to go back and explore some more. πŸ™‚

    1. Heyjude says:

      Plenty to explore Sylvia, I might have a few more for you πŸ˜‰

  9. Lucid Gypsy says:

    I’ve admired these buildings all my life, but I don’t think I’ve ever been closer than the road to one!

    1. Heyjude says:

      They are interesting to walk around even though you do have to be careful where you walk. But most of the ones here seem to be safe.

  10. joannesisco says:

    I’m actually still a bit confused. THIS was the entire mine … just the shaft? How curious that these are dotted all over Cornwall. Obviously there’s something I’m not quite getting.

    … but the photos are beautiful. I guess I didn’t really get an appreciation for the extent of the landscape until I saw how comparatively tiny the Wheal was.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Tin and copper mining went on all over Cornwall and into Devon during the 18th and 19th century so there are mines all over the counties. The shafts are underground and even shafts going under the sea. The buildings that remain tend to be the engine house which housed the machinery. I wrote more about it https://smallbluegreenwords.wordpress.com/2015/08/04/the-levant-mine/
      and https://smallbluegreenwords.wordpress.com/2015/06/23/cornish-engine-houses/
      Most of the other mine buildings have fallen into ruin so you just see bits of walls etc.

      1. joannesisco says:

        ooooh – thanks.

        As an afterthought – as if working in a mine shaft isn’t dangerous enough, they have to go under the sea!!!

        1. Heyjude says:

          Yes, mining was a dreadful occupation – still is where it still exists I imagine. I can’t think of anything worse than having to disappear underground for 12 hours at a time 😦

        2. joannesisco says:

          I agree! I don’t even like rooms without windows.

        3. Heyjude says:

          Me neither! Though we have got a bathroom in this house without one. I don’t spend a lot of time in there.

Comments are closed.