A Cornish mining heritage
On 13 July 2006 select mining landscapes across Cornwall and West Devon were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, placing Cornish mining heritage on a par with international treasures like Machu Picchu, the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China.
Why Cornish mining?
There are at least 175 places, across six continents, where Cornish mine workers took their skills, technology and traditions; a truly global heritage. Cornwall and west Devon’s mining landscape, shaped during a period of intense industrial activity, is testimony to one of the greatest periods of economic, technological and social development Britain has ever known.
From 1700 to 1914, the metal mining industry played a vital role in transforming our way of life. It provided essential raw materials to feed the Industrial Revolution in Britain, and pioneered technological developments that helped shape the society we live in today. For example, Richard Trevithick’s advances in steam engine technology – originally motivated by the need to pump water out of mines – ultimately enabled the development of steam trains, changing the world forever through the mass movement of people and goods.
The Trust manages several different properties across the site, so there are plenty of different parts of the story to get excited about.
The Godolphin estate made its early proprietor, Sidney Godolphin, first Earl of the same name, incredibly rich. Although mining continued up to the 20th century on the estate, it flourished most around the late 18th century, much earlier than other sites.
East Pool and Agar Limited only closed after the Second World War when mining subsidies were stopped. As a result the buildings and tools left here are more modern and efficient that those at Levant or even Godolphin.
Levant and Botallack stand a mile apart and look directly out to the Atlantic Ocean. Their heyday was the late 19th century when brave miners would sink into their depths and mine up to two miles out beneath the sea bed.
A car park at the bottom of Carn Galver (OS SW487394) is the starting point to one of the most invigorating walks in the area. At the top of the hill you can overlook the tumbledown ruins of late 19th century mines, comparatively recent compared to the ancient field systems which sit against the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean.