Archive for cornish mining heritage

Cornish Tin Mining – A World Heritage Site

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Last week I learned what Cornish tin mines have in common with Machu Pichu, the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China and Stonehenge. They’re all World Heritage Sites!  And having just completed a ‘World Heritage Champion’ training day, I found the learning quite  fascinating- inspiring me to put a Cornish Mining Heritage page on the Polraen website featuring a great widget (interactive tool) that introduces visitors to the sites, the attractions, audio trails and history – all part of the ‘Discover the Extraordinary’ project.

Learning about the history of Cornwall’s mining industry helps you to appreciate the full legacy of what has been left not only here in Cornwall but also the extent of the impact that Cornish mining had around the world.  It’s a fascinating story which started 270 million years ago when the granite that creates the backbone of the county cooled and tin and copper ore amongst others was created. From circa 1700 to 1914, the mining industry helped shape the heritage, culture and traditions of the Cornish people as well as the landscape. The population boomed as demand for mineral ores grew for industrial and military use.

Cornwall was the Silicon Valley of its day, fuelling the industrial revolution, exporting mining technology around the world along with Cornish miners who then were at the forefront of diamond mining in South Africa, silver mining in Mexico, and the gold rushes in America and Australia. High pressure steam in Cornish mining was the engineering foundation for Stevenson’s invention of the first steam locomotive leading to the mass movement of goods and people. The first tin plated can was made in 1810 revolutionising food storage and preservation. Meanwhile, social impact was reflected in choral singing, temperance religions and Methodism, the brass and silver bands which became synonymous with mining communities. The tin barons, the wealthy investors, filled the gardens of their Cornish country estates with camelias and rhodedendrons brought back from the Empire leaving the legacy of exotic flora and fauna which you can find in Cornwall’s gardens today.

We often get folks from across the UK and from abroad searching their family history, researching their Cornish surname, visiting graveyards to seek out the resting place of past generations. And now, I can help encourage visitors to get a real sense of the ‘hidden Cornwall’ that many don’t get to discover, by visiting some of the 18 attractions, many of them wet weather places, most free to enter.

What a fascinating day it was and I’ve already had a very interesting talk over a pint in the bar with a guy from Walsall, who spent 3 years in South Africa in the diamond mines after studying at Camborne School of Mining. Just goes to show, you’re never too old to learn…….. So take a look at the Polraen Cornish Mining Heritage page to plan an interesting day out discovering the extraordinary and hidden Cornwall.

 

One natural, one man-made – both inspiring!

Great coverage by the BBC presenting the joint delights of the Cornish countryside and coastline in one great episode of Countryfile.  Marine Conservation efforts in and around Looe and Cornish Mining Heritage were both featured on  Sunday night (26 Feb). The media interest reflects a growing awareness of the need to protect and conserve our marine habitats and gives deserved recognition to the Cornish mining industry under its World Heritage Site status.  (Not sure how long these links to BBC iPlayer will remain live but here they are for a few days at least. )

Watch the clip of :  Ellie Explores a Wreck. As marine conservation volunteers in Looe, my daughter and I were particularly interested to see the coverage having attended a conference for marine conservation volunteers the day before, organised by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. The programme exposes the plight of sea creatures trapped in a fishing net which has got caught around the sunken frigate, HMS Scilla in Whitsand Bay – a popular dive site.

Heading west from the  marine habitats of South East Cornwall, the Countryfile episode encompassed the Cornish mining industry – each in their turn contributing so much to the essence of what makes Cornwall’s landscape unique. Tin mining followed by clay  sculpting the shape of inland Cornwall while the coastline provides many of the magical memories and recreational activities that  visitors recall of their Cornish holiday.

And what lies beneath the waves? Incredible beauty and marine wildlife in abundance that we must protect.

Inspired by these two topics, I’ll shortly be giving each greater exposure on the Polraen website with pages of useful information for visitors so watch this space for interesting places to visit when planning your next holiday. As a taster:

Marine Conservation

Take a look at the exciting programme of mainly free events and activities developed for 2012 from rockshore rambles to seal trips and foraging walks. Details can be downloaded via the Cornwall Wildlife Trust website: the YourShore leaflet gives details of events  organised by the Looe Marine Conservation Group and by the 4 other Voluntary Marine Conservation Areas throughout Cornwall.

Cornish Mining Heritage

There’s so much more to know about the contribution Cornwall and Cornish miners has given to the world! South Africa without rugby? Football without the Mexican wave? From Cornish pasties to tracing your ancestors, take a  look at a new interactive website developed by the World Heritage Site organisation. It brings the story of Cornish mining to life and highlights some really interesting places to visit like the historic port of Charlestown, the clay pits at Wheal Martyn, Caradon Hill mines, and Morwellham Quay . Most are  free and most are all weather attractions – but don’t save them all for just a rainy day – they’re well worth slotting into your sight seeing plans.