The landscape and identity of Cornwall as we know it today have been shaped by centuries of mining.
As far back as the Bronze Age, around 4000 years ago, people began to work the land in search of tin, copper and other metals.
The greatest era of mining in Cornwall was the early 19th century, when Cornwall became the world’s leading supplier of copper. By around 1860 overseas suppliers had taken over, and tin became Cornwall’s most important metal export. Over the years, the ever-changing fortunes of the mining industry brought great prosperity for some, but great poverty for many others.
St Agnes Mining District
Mining at St Agnes was focused on the coast, as at St Just, but the surrounding landscape was also changed through the establishment of mineworkers’ smallholdings – small subsistence farms - created through the improvement of heathland by lease-holding mining families. St Agnes village itself experienced expansion due to the influence of mining and the Miners’ and Mechanics’ Institute is a good example of the self-improvement initiatives for mineworkers being established at the time.