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Cornwall’s Mining Heritage – an underworld where fortunes were made.

Special Interest Group Tours and Travel

On granite headlands, in boulder strewn valleys and perched on cliffs high above the sea, the gaunt chimneys and engine houses of Cornwall’s derelict mines are stark relics of the days when fortunes were made in copper and tin mining.

Phoenician merchants from North Africa came to Cornwall for tin as long ago as 5th century BC, and the Romans also extracted ore from near the surface by means of open cast mines. For centuries, deep mines were impossible because of the flooding that occurred when a shaft sank below the water-table. It was the invention of Thomas Newcomen’s steam engine early in the 18th century that first provided a means of pumping water from the workings, and launched the boom years of Cornish Mining.

Newcomen’s engine was developed by Richard Trevithick to become the Cornish beam engine, which enabled mines to go down to great depths. Dolcoath, near Camborne, reached 1km, the deepest metal mine in Britain.

After 1750 copper became the country’s most important mineral. By 1800 more than three quarters of the world’s copper was mined in Cornwall, and copper mines outnumbered tin mines until the 1860’s. The largest concentration of mining was in the Camborne-Redruth area, with 100 mines in 15 square km. Then the industry declined, due to competition from cheaper imported metal. Many mines were worked in to 20th century, but only a handful weather the slump of the 1920’s.

At Cornwall DMC we use local knowledge to create unique itineraries for groups looking to explore the facinating history that Cornwall has to offer.

We offer a complete service and can arrange all your accommodation, transport and guides. We also welcome the opportunity to customise your group’s tour to suit you or your client’s requirements. For more information or a no obligation quote please contact us

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