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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 June, 2003, 10:09 GMT 11:09 UK
Disaster mine reopens to public
Levant Mine
Levant Mine was shut in 1919 after 31 men plunged to their deaths
The scene of one of Cornwall's worst mining tragedies more than 80 years ago has been opened to the public.

Thirty-one men plunged to their deaths at Levant Mine, near St Just, on 20 October, 1919.

The copper mine has been closed since the disaster, when the platform which transported men to the depths of the mine suddenly collapsed.

But the National Trust has carried out a restoration project and opened the mine - situated on a cliff edge five miles from Land's End - to the public.

The opening of the shaft and tunnel is the culmination of a project undertaken by the trust in partnership with local volunteers and Cornwall County Council's Environment and Heritage Service.

With many families in the St Just and Pendeen areas affected by the tragedy, the National Trust carried out local consultation before deciding to make the site accessible to the public.

Tunnel at Levant Mine
Visitors can walk along the tunnels above the mine shaft
Mining historian David Langsworthy said: "I believe the descendants of those miners who worked at Levant should know exactly what the conditions were like for their forefathers.

"It wasn't an easy life. It was very difficult, especially working in this particular mine which was very hot.

"Sometimes they could only work a six-hour shift, working 1,800 feet underground out under the sea."

A commemorative plaque has been placed at the entrance to the shaft in memory of the men who died.

Visitors are able to descend the granite spiral steps, which lead from the foundations of the old "dry" or changing room down to the tunnel.

Once in the tunnel, they are able to walk past 100 niches cut into the walls, where the men left their personal belongings.

The BBC's Polly Evans
"A commemorative plaque will serve as a permanent reminder of a part of Cornish history"

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