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Rosevale Mine - background history

Cornish mining history has comprised periods of boom and incredible fortune to periods of depression and huge financial loss. The heyday of tin mining during the early 1870s was cut short by a rapid increase in production of cheaper alluvial tin from Malaya, followed later by increased tin production from Bolivia.  Both these factors kept the tin price low throughout the 1880s and 1890s.  By the late 1890s, the price of tin metal remained about £70 per ton and only nine of the large Cornish mines were in operation, most of the small and medium sized mines had closed.

The price of tin began to rise in 1899 and remained reasonably level for the next few years.  This led to renewed interest in Cornwall, with the resultant increase in investment to re-open some of the mines.By 1906 the price of tin metal had risen to £180 per ton and the start of a mini 'Tin Boom' in Cornwall, at a time when new companies and syndicates, such as Rayfield (Cornwall) Tin Syndicate Limited, were formed with proposals to rework the mines on a much larger scale than previously. This boom continued until 1913 when the price of tin metal fell rapidly from almost £300 per ton to less than £190 per ton within six months. The boom had been unsustainable and many of the mines that had re-opened had failed to be profitable, so the crash in tin price soon resulted in the closure of these mines. The fate of Cornwall's mining industry was dealt another blow in 1914 with the start of World War I.  Although the price of tin picked up and remained reasonably high during the War, at one time reaching over £300 per ton, the costs of mining had risen significantly and many miners had left the county to fight in the war. By 1819 only nine mines were active and this period had effectively sealed the fate of being able to rework small ventures like Rosevale Mine.

Rayfield (Cornwall) Tin Syndicate Limited was registered on 24th July 1912 (company number 123393) as a subsidiary of Rayfield (Nigeria) Tin Fields Ltd (a re-organisation of Rayfield Syndicate Ltd).  The head office of the new company was at Capel House, 54 New Broad Street, London and the directors were Oliver Wethered (Chairman), Hugh C. Godfrey, William F. Jackson and Walter Wethered (brother of Oliver Wethered).  Oliver Wehtered died in 1925 and was replaced as Chairman by B. H. Nicholson.  The initial capital was £75,000 in 300,000 shares of 5s each, of which 2/3rd of the share capital was offered to shareholders in Rayfield (Nigeria) Tin Fields Ltd.  The aim of the new company was to acquire mining interests in Cornwall. In October 1912 the company acquired ½ ownership (with the other ½ ownership held by Rayfield (Nigeria) Tin Fields Ltd) of Rosevale Mine.  Its other interests in Cornwall included Basset & Grylls (Wheal Jantar) at Porkellis, Killifrith Mine at Chacewater and Gwithian Tin Sands.  Rayfield (Cornwall) Tin Syndicate Ltd was finally liquidated in December 1925.

Oliver Wethered, born in Berkshire, was associated with numerous mining ventures both in Cornwall and abroad, especially in Nigeria, and became a prominent and highly respected figure in Cornish mining.  As well as being Chairman of Rayfield (Cornwall) Tin Syndicate Ltd, he was Chairman of Rayfield (Nigeria) Tin Fields, Dolcoath Mine, Geevor Tin Mines, Wheal Vor Ltd, Jantar Nigeria Co., Killifreth Mine and was actively involved with Levant Tin Mines, Porkellis Tin Mines and Tehidy Minerals. He died in at his home in Surrey in 1925, at the age of 64, after a period of ill-health.

Document maintained by Rosevale Historical Mining Society. 
Material Copyright © 2017 Rosevale Mine
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