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Latitude: 50.1401 / 50°8'24"N
Longitude: -5.3555 / 5°21'19"W
OS Eastings: 160336
OS Northings: 32058
OS Grid: SW603320
Mapcode National: GBR FX49.ZMG
Mapcode Global: VH12W.4Q4Z
Entry Name: Blowing House and Attached Walls at Approximately 10 Metres North East of Blowing House Cottage
Listing Date: 14 September 1984
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1142264
English Heritage Legacy ID: 65762
Location: Breage, Cornwall, TR13
Civil Parish: Breage
Traditional County: Cornwall
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall
Church of England Parish: Breage with Godolphin and Ashton
Church of England Diocese: Truro
SW 63 SW BREAGE GODOLPHIN
4/64 Blowing house and attached walls at
approx 10m north east of Blowing
14.9.84 House Cottage
Blowing house (building where tin was smelted with a forced draught) and attached
remains of another ruinous blowing house. C16 and C17 with some C19 alterations.
The key buildings of the Godolphin family tin works. The earlier walls are of
coursed granite rubble, the later of random rubble; granite lintels, that in the
north gable end (to the furnace) finely dressed and above it an early C19 brick
stack. Scantle slate roof with gable ends. Adjoining to the north, walls 1-2m high
of another building, open to the east.
The earlier and larger building to the north is rectangular on plan and roofless.
Its north gable end contains an upright hearth and locker arrangement similar to
Dartmoor blowing houses. This gable end was subsumed by the later and smaller
blowing house built onto it to the north; this building is also rectangular. Its
doorway is at the south end of the east wall which is possibly of late C18 or early
C19 construction re-using several inscribed (bound?) stones. The back (ancient) wall
aligns with the corresponding wall of the earlier blowing house and thus the leat
(existing in part) only needed a short extension. However, it is the north gable end
which is of exceptional interest. On the outside is a large granite lintel whose
lower edge is shaped to a double undulation in order to receive the barrels of two
The opening below is splayed and has a granite sill. The inner opening is very small
and retains a piece of iron grill. Two bellows would have stood in a frame outside
and immediately north of the building operated by a small water wheel via a cam shaft
Within the building a temporary furnace (called the 'castle') was built and in this
the black tin (powdered ore) was melted by charcoal fire raised to temperature by the
alternating mechanical bellows.
These structures are part of the Godolphin tin works, a site which includes remains
of the stamps, leat system, buddles etc. Richard Carew records that Sir Francis
Godolphin (1534 - 1608) innovated the processes of tin production, including blowing,
with the assistance of a German mineral expert. Here two blowing houses survive, the
earlier with a Dartmoor type hearth and, built onto it, a later blowing house with a
more sophisticated hearth similar to those illustrated in 'De Re Metalica'. Whether
or not the second is substantially Sir Francis's blowing house (as is likely) the two
illustrate his profitable improvement.
No other substantial remains of blowing houses are known to survive in Cornwall and
none of the Dartmoor ones is so complete. This must be a building of the greater
value to industrial archaeology.
Sources: De Re Metalica by Georgius Agricola 1556; Survey of Cornwall by Richard
Carew 1602; Natural History of Cornwall by William Borlase 1758; Transaction of the
Devonshire Assoc. (Worth); S. E. and J. Schofield.
Listing NGR: SW6033632058
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