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areial view of main street in Pendeen

The growth of the mining industry created more jobs this led to rapid population growth and the creation of new settlements. 

Housing was built to accommodate an entirely new industrial population. It was built within existing market towns and villages in the mining districts, as well as in the ports, and in other settlements where the related industries were located. The miner’s cottages would often be built of cob and thatch. These buildings were little more than hovels being overcrowded and unsanitary. Miners’ houses were a far cry from the grand houses and estates of the mine-owning classes. Some miners rented small fields called ‘crofts’ where they grew food like barley or potatoes and kept animals such as pigs. This meant they were less dependent on the fortunes of the mine for their survival. Mining Settlements appeared along the coast road from Pendeen to St Just. Hamlets like St Just expanded into towns as more people came to work in the mining industry and new rows of terraced houses were built to house them. Entirely new villages and towns were developed too.

Small holdings

In the 18th and 19th Centuries the practice of leasing out smallholdings on unenclosed land within the mining districts enabled a  proportion of the miners to build cottages, rear pigs and grow some vegetables. The characteristic landscape of small fields and scattered cottages associated with this practice can still be found in many parts of Cornwall.


Photograph reproduced with the kind permission of the Geevor Archive

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