The Sites and Monuments that define 'Cornish
The Serial Nomination known as the Cornwall and
West Devon Mining Landscape is an example of dispersed
industrialisation. The ten Areas are necessary to ensure that the
geographical coverage and the overall size is sufficiently large
to provide a complete representation of all the significant
elements which together express outstanding universal value. The survival of such
integrated coherent cultural landscapes within the nominated Site
is outstanding. It is testimony to the culture which created them.
The sites and monuments (or components) identified below are essential to
the distinctive character of the 'Cornish Mining' landscape.
Though the evidence of industrialisation was dispersed across a
wide area, the components were not evenly spread. Although each Area
possesses a different mix of components it is the
of the Areas rather than any individual Area which demonstrates
the full relationship between the components and leads to an
holistic understanding of the 'Cornish Mining' landscape. The
components themselves must satisfy the selection criteria set out
A significant component of the Cornwall and West
Devon Mining Landscape of the period 1700-1914.
Survival and condition: sites that do not
survive above ground will not normally be considered. Sites
where below-ground remains are both demonstrably important and
accessible may however be included.
Authenticity of remains: structures or sites
that have been largely or wholly reconstructed will not normally
be eligible for inclusion.
Rarity: if a site or component is rare either in
terms of its type, or its survival, it will have a higher
likelihood of being included.
Documentation: if there is historical
documentation that supports the connection with Cornish Mining.
Association: where a number of Cornish Mining
components survive within the same landscape, there is a higher
likelihood that those sites and landscape will be included.
Categories of Components
The nominated Site is rich in the principal
components (C*) that impart the singular character of the Cornish
mining landscape. These components have been grouped under the
A series of maps demonstrate the
components in a landscape context at regional and nominated area
Regional distribution maps (engine houses, mines, ancillary industries, transport
networks and non-conformist chapels)
Area component maps
(historic land-use character, settlements, great houses and
smallholdings within each nominated Area)
Area principal sites,
monuments and landscapes
(specific sites of note within each nominated Area)
sites, including ore dressing sites
The location of mineral resources and the natural
topography are the principal factors that dictate the location of
former mining and ore-processing (dressing) activities.
Mining (primary extraction)The typical sub-vertical
inclination of Cornish lodes limited output to what could be
achieved by the drainage technology available at the time. (It was
limited too by mining methods and ore-processing technology).
Steam pumps were introduced in the early eighteenth century and
this technology culminated in the development of the Cornish
high-pressure steam-pumping engine in the nineteenth century. The
engine houses that once contained these engines stand close to the
principal shafts and are the distinctive outward visible
manifestation of the industrial archaeology of steam power.
Ore-processing (dressing) and its expression in
the landscapeThe surface structures
associated with ore-dressing is the best indicator of the
particular metal produced by a particular mine. Tin ore was
initially crushed and concentrated at the mine. During the
eighteenth century much of this was done by hand and water-powered
stamps (crushers). From the early nineteenth century it became a
mechanically-intensive process that required increasingly larger
areas of land with a suitable gradient and a water supply (water
and gravity separation methods give rise to ‘stepped’ structural
remains). The product (black tin) was smelted locally until the
twentieth century (the last Cornish smelter closed in 1931).
Copper ores were commonly sorted and crushed by hand, though
copper crushers became more widespread during the nineteenth
century on larger mines. Huge tonnages were then sent for smelting
- mostly by sea to South Wales. This led to the development of a
massive infrastructure of railways and ports. Arsenic was refined
either at the mine or in special refineries built in the
arsenic-producing districts. The form of ore-processing determined
the nature and extent of built structures. Innovation often led to
new structures though these did not necessarily wholly replace
earlier technological elements. For example, small-scale tin
streaming coexisted with large-scale, capital-intensive,
steam-powered tin mining and ore-processing (in fact secondary tin
streaming, recovering the fine tin lost from the mills of the
still operational mines, continued until late in the twentieth
century). Nevertheless the period when they were in operation
naturally had an impact upon the degree of their survival. The
archaeology of late eighteenth and early-nineteenth century copper
ore tramways, railways, canals and ports, together with the
monumental archaeology of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century
tin and arsenic processing has resulted in an outstanding
C2 Mine transport
Transport infrastructure was a
crucial component of the Cornish mining industry. The region is
peninsular; nowhere in the nominated Site is much more than 20
kilometres from the sea. Proximity to the coast counterbalanced
the industry’s geographically peripheral position in the far
south-west of Britain.
Supplies, such as
coal and timber, had to be
imported and minerals - particularly copper ore - had to be moved
from the mines to the new purpose-built quays, harbours and ports.
From here, fleets of schooners shipped the region’s copper ore to
the smelters in South Wales and brought back the coal needed to
fire the mines’ steam engines. Timber was brought in from
Scandinavia and Canada.
A substantially intact group of late
eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century
survives on rivers, in estuaries and on the coastline within the
nominated Site. During the eighteenth and early nineteenth
centuries, a large network of mule tracks developed as a direct
consequence of the growing import and export of coal and copper
ore. These tracks were not built but simply brought into existence
by the constant use of mule trains. They were engineered or
metalled only where conditions were particularly difficult, such
as along a cliff-side, across marshy terrain or down a steep slope
to some creek-side quay.
There are also a number of pedestrian tracks
between nearby settlements and the mines, and at surface level in
the mines themselves (particularly the larger ones). Steep ‘adit
pathways’ cut into the face of the cliffs are ubiquitous in
coastal mining districts. Some tracks survive as recreational
footpaths or as tarmac public roads. Many mule tracks were
abandoned by the industry when they were replaced by
higher-capacity mineral tramways, railways and (occasionally)
canals. The aim was to capture as much trade as possible from the
mines and to provide a link with the nearest port, though in each
case the route was governed by topography and its length by
economic limitations. Remains of this early nineteenth century
development occur right across the nominated Site. They include
extensive tramway and railway track beds and bridges. Two
also survive in good condition, including their watercourses,
towpaths for the horses, embankments, cuttings and in one case an
exceptional tunnel and its associated air shafts.
The mines created a demand which led to the
establishment of local ancillary industries. There were: smelters
(tin, copper and silver-lead);
foundries and engineering works (to
make steam engines,
rock drills and other mining equipment);
gunpowder, explosives and
fuse works (to manufacture safety fuse
for blasting). Tin ore was smelted locally. An exceptional reverberatory tin smelting site (together with silver-lead
smelters) survives within the nominated Site. Several other
smelters survive outside it.
There are substantial remains of a number of
foundries and engineering works within the nominated Site, all
characterised by distinctive industrial architecture. This is an
internationally significant group, symbolic of the importance of
nineteenth century iron-founding, particularly in the creation of
steam pumping engines and other mining equipment. A single
well-preserved water-powered gunpowder works is included within
the nominated Site. All its important buildings survive and
clearly demonstrate the manufacturing process. There are several
fuse works within the nominated Site, together with the partial
remains of an explosives works.
Following the decline of Cornish mining, some of
these ancillary industries continued to thrive in the export
market. Their extended life (and sometimes adaptive re-use) has,
in several cases, helped to preserve their original structures.
Mining settlements and social infrastructure
Large-scale industrial development in the mining
industry created employment opportunities which led to rapid
population growth and the consequent emergence of new
patterns. Housing was built to accommodate an entirely new
industrial population. It was built within existing market towns
and villages in the mining districts, as well as in the ports, and
in other settlements where the ancillary industries were situated.
But entirely new villages and towns were developed too. Urban
expansion accounted for more than 2,500 hectares. A new type of
industrial housing was introduced to the region - rows of terraces
- and these stood alongside the institutes and other public
buildings which reflected the new-found confidence and industrial
prowess. A number of these industrial settlements – from towns to
small villages - are included within the nominated Site.
Methodist chapels were a conspicuous component of
these developments. They remain a highly visible manifestation of
nineteenth-century industrial society and both their character and
distribution are often closely related to the development of
mining in the region. The nineteenth century also saw the building
of new Church of England churches in the mining areas, such as
those at Charlestown and St Day. The magnificent architecture of
Truro Cathedral, built at the end of the nineteenth and beginning
of the twentieth century, relates very substantially to the
prosperity derived from tin mining and to the benevolence of a
prominent mineral lord.
Miners’ small farms developed in the mining
districts on formerly unenclosed heathland. More than 50,000
hectares were enclosed during the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries. The smallholdings, usually no bigger than 2 hectares,
consisted principally of self-built cottages on holdings leased
from the landowner, together with a pig-and-potato subsistence
husbandry that brought a degree of self-sufficiency to the miner.
Some have been amalgamated into larger farms but
the survival of large areas of small fields, with their associated
hedge banks and scattered cottages, is a reminder of the
historical and cultural significance of the smallholding within
the mining landscape.
Great houses, estates and gardens
Great houses and estates were created and
embellished by revenue from the mining industry. Good examples of
these houses and parkland which once belonged to mineral lords, or
to the industrial nouveau riche, still survive. There is also an
internationally important group of gardens that were developed
during the nineteenth and early twentieth century although most of
them are outside the nominated Site. They were financed by
industrial wealth. Several of the families involved with the
mining industry became notable horticulturalists. Villas and
architecturally-embellished town houses were built within the
burgeoning towns of the region, indicating the increasing
sophistication of this new entrepreneurial class.
C7 Mineralogical (and other related) sites of particular
geology, and their practical
application to the mining and mineral processing industries, were
both studied extensively throughout the nominated Site. The
development by deep mining of one of the world’s most mineralogically diverse orefields resulted in numerous important
discoveries from the mid-eighteenth century onwards. These
inspired some of the earliest British geological and mineralogical
literature, together with internationally important mineral
collections, such as the Rashleigh Collection now in the Royal
Cornwall Museum (Truro). They are notable manifestations of a
crucial and formative contribution to science.
Key mineralogical sites include the discovery
sites of new species, the sources of world-class specimens and
important exposures. They are all important components of the
mining districts included within the nominated Site. In addition
there are sites of great ecological value which owe their
existence to mining activity. They represent habitats for
nationally and internationally important species.