This post is for Alice who wanted to see my photos of mines in Cornwall.
I was very excited to see the remains of mines scattering the skyline during our recent holiday in Cornwall.
I’ve always been interested in industrial buildings. I guess this is mainly due to my father’s influence as he was a steel man from the age of 13 and he developed in me a passion for ships, bridges and buildings. The other reason could be because of where I grew up. I lived in the Felling, a shipbuilding and mining area in the North of England. I skipped past the railway station and shipyard every day on my way to school and there was a derelict engine house complete with winding gear at the end of our street of 2 up and 2 down back to back miners’ cottages. These were our adventure playgrounds. Children were never allowed to play on the grass or ride bikes in the municipal parks in those days! Parks were for floral displays and grown ups to walk in and the park warden was fierce.
Being a traditional and romantic sort of person I accept that industrialisation almost wiped out the jobs for blacksmiths, weavers, spinners, millers and grinders. But I find there is great beauty in the machinery that drove the mines and the mills, and in the engines that turned their wheels and moved their goods.
The Redruth and Camborne area was the central tin and copper mining district of Cornwall. The area is now part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site and has made the most of it’s heritage by opening up the old tramways and railways as trails for walking, biking or horse-riding. Along the trails there are the remains of the historic mines. And along the way there are spectacular views of the coast or gorgeous countryside. I was amazed to learn that Gwennap and the mines around it was once the richest copper producing area in the world.
One or two of the mines are now restored. For example Geevor Tin Mine, Gwennap Pit and King Edward Mine are open as visitor attractions but we avoided those preferring to walk around and discover the remains of derelict mines.
We did however visit Wheal Martyn. This place is amazing being almost a complete Victorian China Clay works. Thousands of people made their living here in its day. It is brilliantly preserved with its huge waterwheel, tools, machinery, vintage vehicles, pits and tunnels all in working order. Walking round, it feels as if the workers have just left their labours for the day.
There is still a great china clay industry in Cornwall but it is not just used for ceramics now. Mostly it is used in the production of paper, cosmetics and toothpaste, as well as in the farming, building, medical and chemical industries.
- Tin Mines (winspiration.me)