Cornish Engine Houses

If you have ever visited Cornwall, or if you have watched Poldark, then you will be aware that the county is littered with the remains of abandoned engine houses and chimney stacks. It would be remiss of me not to show some of these, though I didn’t venture down the one open to the public (Geevor Mine above) as I suffer from mild claustrophobia and can’t stand being in the dark.

The engine houses were built to provide a framework for the steam-pumping engine and more beam engines were installed in Cornwall and west Devon than any other mining region of the world: it is thought that around 3,000 engine houses were built in total to house them of which 200 still remain. They stand adjacent to where the main mine shafts were and provide one of the most distinctive displays of industrial buildings anywhere in the world.


Near Pendeen
Near Pendeen

The strength and size of the structures, usually built out of local stone and granite with brick detailing over the windows, arches and topmost chimney stack, is the principle reason that so many have survived. They are quite appealing to a photographer, but beware of getting too close as there might be a danger of falling stonework, hidden holes and stones and deep drops.

And of course they often provide an excellent subject for a silhouette.

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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

44 thoughts on “Cornish Engine Houses”

  1. Some nice shots there Jude, and you seem to have had some very good weather too. It has been bleak here!
    Regards as always, Pete. x

  2. There is no way around it. These structures are amazing. After all this time that any are still standing is a marvel. I can’t believe the amazing workmanship. Thanks for sharing these photos, Jude. Enjoyed the birds eye-view.

  3. I assumed the bricks on the chimneys were fairly new and attempts to maintain the buildings, but it sounds like they were just built well in the first place!

  4. Fascinating buildings, Jude. This is a Cornwall perspective totally unknown to me, well I haven’t been there, have I 😉 but I enjoyed learning about the abounded engine houses, so great for photography! 🙂

    1. They are great for photographers Dina as they are always situated in very beautiful locations – I don’t suppose it was so beautiful back in the day they were operating though.

  5. They remind me of churches or castles – beautiful industrial architecture. We did go down Geevor, though the underground part was probably the least interesting.

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