In the early 19th century Cornwall pioneered the production of arsenic as a by-product of tin and copper mining. The first commercial British arsenic was produced at Perran-ar-Worthal in 1812, followed by a works at Bissoe in the Carnon Valley. Its main market was the expanding Lancashire cotton industry which used arsenic in pigments and dyes.
Henry Conn, arsenic works in Bissoe estd. 1812
Henry Conn, arsenic ring, bankruptcy 1843
Thomas Willis Field acquired Bissoe smelting works 1880
1882 The Cornwall Arsenic Co’s Works at Bissoe produced 580 tons of refined
arsenic. For many years 300 tons of arsenic was exported annually, the bulk
to Australia and New Zealand for sheep-dip, and some to Norway for glass making.
A quantity was sent to South America for troll weevil.
Today, near to Bissoe Valley Nature Reserve you can see a chimney and other
remains of the Point Mills Arsenic Refinery. The British Arsenic Company (later
the Cornwall Arsenic Company) operated these works for a century, ending with
the outbreak of World War 2. The arsenic was of a particularly high quality.
Bissoe Arsenic Works is still standing although the square chimney shows damage
due to a lightening strike some years ago. The Germans bombed the Arsenic works
in World War II, but the arsenic works had been closed for many years at that
Bissoe sulphuric acid works were painted by Lamorna Birch (1869-1955). Later,
in the nineteenth century the Carnon Valley was a centre of chemical production
for sulphuric acid and other by-products from mine waste.