Discover Camborne’s Mining Past

Tin mine near Camborne Photo courtesy of Jacquie Wilkes Photography
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Tin mine near Camborne Photo courtesy of Jacquie Wilkes Photography

All around Camborne you can see the legacy of the mining industry; noble granite engine houses and chimneys punctuate the skyline and the many grand buildings around the town are a reminder of its former wealth. By the 19th Century the mining industry and the resultant rapid growth of the town had created ‘Wild West’ conditions. Success and prosperity for the mining magnates living in their grand houses contrasted sharply with the poverty and overcrowding commonplace amongst miner workers. Competition from foreign mines reduced the global price of copper and tin and the local industry went into a general decline from the mid 1860s onwards with many men (known as Cousin Jacks)emigrating to work in mines elsewhere in Britain and overseas. Between 1861 and 1901, around 20 per cent of the Cornish male population migrated abroad. When the last mine, South Crofty finally closed in 1998, leaving 200 miners unemployed, the following words were painted on the Crofty Site wall:

Cornish lads are fishermen and Cornish lads are miners too but now the fish and tin are gone what are Cornish boys to do?

South Wheal Frances Mine Camborne Photo courtesy of Jacquie Wilkes Photography
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South Wheal Frances Mine Camborne Photo courtesy of Jacquie Wilkes Photography

Camborne remains proud of its mining origins and industrial heritage – and this is reflected in its museums and the wealth of mining and architectural heritage which are celebrated here. Camborne is internationally significant and now forms part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site.

Find out more at cornish-mining.org.uk

There are over 200 iconic Cornish engine houses dotted around the landscape, and the remains of the transport networks that were developed to serve the mines in the early 19th Century – the railways, mineral tramways, canals, ports and quays can now be explored by foot, bicycle or boat. There are also several of Cornwall’s great houses and gardens such as Tehidy Country Park – paid for by the profits from the mining industry which are now open for all to enjoy.
Have a look at the Discovery Map to see these mineral trails.

In 2006, select mining areas of Devon and Cornwall including Camborne and Redruth were given the global recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in other words – places of

Tin mine Camborne Photo courtesy of Jacquie Wilkes Photography
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Tin mine Camborne Photo courtesy of Jacquie Wilkes Photography

significance and value to the whole of humanity. This was the centre of the Cornish mining industry, with the highest concentration of historic mining sites anywhere in the world.
If you would like to find out more about Camborne and why it has been given the World Heritage Site Status you can visit cornish-mining,co.uk

 

 

The area is also recognised for the pioneering technological advances that were made here – the birth of the steam engine is just one advance, initially used for pumping water out of the mines, which changed the course of history by providing the means for the mass movement of goods and people.
The Cornish Studies Library in Redruth, East Pool Mine and King Edward Mine Museum all provide fascinating information about this area’s industrial history. Have a look at Camborne map to locate these places.