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This simple guide to the history of Mellanear Mine is compiled by me to help others, who like me, may have a basic understanding of the glorious history of Cornish tin and copper mining, but would like to understand what lays beneath the tarmac of their modern housing estate.
Mellanear Mine in its prime was the second largest copper producing mine in Devon and Cornwall but once the copper had been worked, a second chance for the mine to recover tin proved uneconomical and fruitless.
The mine was known as Mellanear and was on the edge of Wheal Alfred mine and also part of the larger mining undertaking known as Wheal Alfred Consols. Later it was worked as a sole concern. However, as far as I am concerned, I shall focus only on this single mine which worked on two areas on the borders of Hayle on the road to Helston.
One part was on what later became the house and grounds known as the Croft, Water Lane, Hayle but today the house is now known as 10 Gwel Trencrom with the surrounding grounds all part of Gwel Trencrom. The second part was either side of the Hayle to Helston road at the point where the old Tolroy Petrol and Service Garage was and is now used for other purposes.
There will be no photographs of Mellanear Mine for as far as I am aware none were ever taken and photography was in its early infancy when the mine was abandoned.
All mining information given is factual and has been obtained from all the publicly available records in the various local reference libraries.
Why is it called Mellanear ?
The naming of a mine depended on the whim of the owners. The owner could name it after him or his children as in Wheal Alfred and Wheal Jane or after the area in which the mine was started as in St Erth or St Ives. The name of the area would continue to live long after the mine closed down just as it did before. Sometimes the name would disappear when the mine closed.
And this is what happen to Mellanear. The name appears as Mellenear in a lease of 1715; as Millineer on the 1853 Ordnance Survey map but later in 1888 it had changed to Mellanear. On the recent and current maps it is not shown at all.
Mellenear Mill was situated on the bank of stream between Leah and what later became the millpond for Harvey's Foundry. This was a grist mill and described as such in the sale deed relating to a share in the Trelissick esate in 1657. When in 1715 Roger Wearne was granted a lease of Lanuthoe in St Erth, part of the Trelissick Manor, it was a condition of his tenure that he took his corn to Mellenear Mill to be ground.
It is not known when Mellenear Mill was built, but its name, meaning 'the long mill' in Cornish, indicates that it was an ancient mill which gave its name to the tenement on which it was built. It seems to have been in use until the second half of the eighteenth century when it was demolished.
The mill was mentioned in a deed of conveyance of 1741, when John Hearle of Penryn bought Trelissick Manor. In 1786 John Harvey became the tenant of Mellenear and in the lease there is a mention of the old stamping mill, but not the grist mill. The 1853 map shows some buildings still remaining.
It is not uncommon for the spelling to vary over the centuries as this is mainly due to the language used in various documents such as Latin or old English and to the interpretation of the transcriber.
So there have been three variations to the spelling but the current spelling continues in the name of Mellanear Road; Mellanear stream; Mellanear House and a relatively new housing complex of Mellanear Close. The miners from St. Erth walked to the mine along Mellanear Lane as evidenced in Ordnance Survey maps up to 1940 but nowadays the road is known as School Lane leading into Trenhayle Lane.
If you were to join the stream at the ford at Strawberry Lane and were able to walk the bank then before you got to the culvert in which the stream passes under the A30 bypass, then you will have unknowingly passed the site of the old mill.