While most visitors to the West Country associate tin mining with Cornwall because so much industrial archeology remains, it began in Devon with panning for tin in the streams on Dartmoor. Here in Mary Tavy, Wheal Betsy, seen on the home page, is all the industrial heritage that can be seen by the casual visitor. The old photo below shows Devon United South mine workings sometime in the 19th century. Strictly speaking this is in the next parish (Peter Tavy) because its the opposite side of Cholwell Brook. Because the photo was found in a Mary Tavy pub, we wrongly thought it to be in Mary Tavy but because it is such an atmospheric photograph that shows what it was like when these mines were working, we’ve left it on the site.
For more information on Wheal Betsy, why not take this link to the excellent Legendary Dartmoor website. If feeling very scholarly, there is also an excellent document in Tavistock Library called “The Rise & Demise of a Dartmoor Mine” catalogue reference is 622.34. Its based on the accounts from Wheal Betsy for much of its life. From this document you will learn that the building of Wheal Betsy engine house took place, almost as a last resort to help a mine that was already beginning to fail. The additonal pumping power of the ‘new’ steam engines, still could not cope with the amount of water that would have had to be removed and kept out of the mine to enable the owners to dig deeper!
Devon Friendship (shown below) was once the largest copper mine in the world but as with many of the mines in the region when the profitable minerals were worked out, the owners turned to making as much as possible from what other minerals remained