For many years the Cornish Buildings Group has grown increasingly concerned about the condition of the smithy building at Wheal Busy in Chacewater. The Grade II-listed structure stands separately from the scheduled parts of the mine – to its east, south and west – but all are located within the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site. The Smithy has an extensive scantle-slate roof and impressive cast iron lintels over its two main entrances, made by the Perran Foundry. The building owes much of its form to a major reworking of the mine in the 1870s and the lintels proclaim the title: ‘Great Wheal Busy Mines 1872’. It is thought to be the largest historic blacksmiths shop on a metalliferous mine in Britain.
The Wheal Busy engine house was successfully restored in 2014, and the WHS has prioritised Wheal Busy Smithy as a conservation project since that time. In early 2019 we were thrilled to hear that the Smithy was approved for £1m in funding from the Highways England A30 Environmental Designated Funds.
We understand that listed building consent for the refurbishment of the Smithy including internal and external stabilisation had been granted at the end of 2019. This seems positive progress, but of course with the Covid-19 situation works have been delayed.
In October 2020 Highways England confirmed that in principle the Road Improvement Scheme funding which will include emergency stabilisation of the historic building. This will ensure the Smithy is watertight and secure.
This is a huge achievement for the World Heritage Site Team and Highways England. The Cornish Buildings Group would like to congratulate their work for supporting Cornwall and Devon’s globally important mining heritage. In turn the World Heritage Site Team have passed their thanks to a number of organisations and individuals who have been particularly generous in their support including the Tregothnan Estate (the owner of the Smithy), Chacewater Parish Council, the Mining Villages Regeneration Group, The Cornish Buildings Group, The Victorian Society, Cornwall Councillor John Dyer, and Julian German, Chair of the World Heritage Site Partnership Board.
This is a building that meant a lot to the late John Stengelhofen, our previous Chairman, who died in 2020.
For more information about Wheal Busy you can read the scheduled monument description here.