Tin Mining in Cornwall
Click below for more information on individual mines:-
South Wheal Frances
Ding Dong Mines
The extraction of tin in Cornwall dates back to the Bronze Age, tin was necessary to early man as it is one of the principle components of bronze. An early method of obtaining tin was from the washed gravel taken from streams or dug from shallow deposits known as ‘open pits’. Underground mining for tin is thought to have started in the Sixteenth Century in the St. Just area, whereas copper was not mined on a large scale until the later part of the Eighteenth Century. Other minerals extracted from the mines in Cornwall included arsenic, lead, zinc, wolfram, silver, nickel, cobalt, bismuth, ochre, sulphur and fluorspar.
At its peak thousands of men and even boys were employed in the mines of Cornwall, but the ‘rich pickings’ from abroad resulted in a steep decline. 1874 -76 saw a dramatic closure of mines D.B. Barton in “A History of Tin Mining and Smelting in Cornwall” published in 1967 reported that “132 mines were abandoned out of 230 in this three year collapse , leaving 98 working in 1877”. It was estimated that as many as three thousand miners a year emigrated to ‘seek their fortune’ in the gold mines of California or copper mines of Australia. ‘Cousin Jacks’ could be found down every deep hole in the world. An old saying is that “a mine is a hole in the ground with a Cornishman at the bottom.” The Australian outback town of Burra shows its Cornish ancestry, it has a street called Camborne and even a Redruth gaol.
Today the only interest in Cornish mining appears to be in visitor or heritage attractions like those located at Geevor, Poldark, Pool or Tolgus Tin and the cycle routes etc. likeThe Great Flat Lode near Carn Brea.
The Western Morning News reported on the 18th June 2004 that the bid continues to get Cornwall and West Devon’s former mines World Heritage status in an attempt to push forward the economies of the area. Apparently it is felt that the first thing an international tourist will look for is World Heritage sites.