Mines in Cornwall are tied to the underlying geology. Mining in Cornwall means
that ore bearing rock is confined to certain locations. This is connected to
where the underlying rock is granite. Hence the places where minerals are to
be mined are in a hotch potch pattern over Cornwall. The map shows the main
mining areas, and detailed information was presented on each district in the
application for World Heritage Status.
To service the mines, a network of mainly railways and narrower gauge tramways,
was developed. There were a small number of canals as well, but these had a
short life, and played little role in mining. It was necessary to get the ore
from the mines to the coast, from whence it would be taken by ship, usually
to South Wales for smelting. And it was necessary to transport coal from the
ports to the mines to fire the steam pumping engines that kept the mines dry.
Along with the mines, there grew up a host of service industries covering the
manufacture of steam engines, gunpowder, fuses, bricks, etc.
Today we are trying to preserve what is left of this heritage. Most mines closed
in the early 20th century, though a few did survive until the late 20th century.
Once closed, nobody had the interest to preserve them, and decay inevitably
set in. The mitigating factor was that particularly the engine house, were so
solidly built, in order to house an enormous vibrating steam engine, that they
have weathered the intervening years quite well. Only where man has intervened
to actually demolish them, has irreparable destruction occurred.
Following the yellow button links on the Mining Map of Cornwall above, will
take you to a more detailed page on that mining district, with further links
to individual mines where available.