Cornish Mining

old photo showing cornish mining in production with smoking chimney

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.

 

 

Steam Power

Click to see a larger version of this imageworking steam engine copyright the Royal Institution of Cornwall

Steam power was once the prime source of power for most mines, providing energy for pumping, winding and transport. 


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St Agnes Mining District

Click to see a larger version of this imageSt Agnes Mining District A7 Wheal Coates copyright B Gamble at Cornwall Council

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. 


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Hornblower

Hornblower was an engineering family who began to improve the Newcomen engine.   


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Gunpowder

Click to see a larger version of this imageearly miners lighting a fuse with candles

From the late 17th century gunpowder came into use in Cornish mines.


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Comment left by ruby on 2010-01-14 14:54:49

I visited in 2008 and I thought it was very good!! I liked the tour of the mine espesaly!But I think that thete should have been more interactiv things in the museum!

Comment left by ruby on 2010-01-14 14:57:33

i visited in 2008 with my family .We all thought that the tour round the mine was the best part .but there should have been more interactiv stuff for kids!!!!

 

Comment left by Bethan Jones on 2012-02-22 21:02:32

I visted a few years ago and it was great the tour was amazing and i love the mine and i cant wait to go again!!!

 

Comment left by Mary Ann on 2012-09-28 16:02:24

Toured the Geevor Mine and Museum in September 2012 and found it fascinating. Some Cornish miners settled in my county in Maryland in the 1850s to work in the copper mines.

 

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