The Cornish Route of Industrial Heritage
The Cornish Route of Industrial Heritage features one of the earliest industrial areas in Europe and one of the most influential in terms of developing industrial expertise and mining technology. The area is also a noteworthy example of the growth of industrial society.
Cornwalis a peninsula jutting into the Atlantic Ocean, located at the extreme south west of the UK and Europe. The area has a very individual geology in which the resources of tin, copper and china clay are to be found. These rich and abundant natural resources were the reason for rapid industrial development during the Industrial Revolution.
The great international significance of Cornwall’s metalliferous mining heritage was recognised by UNESCO in 2006 when the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape was inscribed as a World Heritage Site . The World Heritage status relates principally to the mining of copper and tin, however the china clay industry, which dates from the middle 18th century, is also of great international importance and is still operational today.
Copper and Tin
Copper and tin mining have been carried out over an extensive area extending about 100 miles (160 kilometres) from the east in the neighbouring county of Devon, to the tip of Cornwall in the west. Mineral extraction has taken place for about four thousand years however industrialisation of the mining process really commenced in the early 1700s, following the development of practical steam engines which allowed water to be pumped from deep mines. A significant later impetus was the invention of the high-pressure steam engine, at the turn of the 19th century, by the Cornish engineer Richard Trevithick.
Thereafter, copper and tin production grew very rapidly through the 1800s to satisfy the growing demands for these industrial metals; copper particularly for the all important alloys bronze and brass, and as sheets to protect the hulls of ships; and tin for metal alloys and as a corrosion resistant plating for steel food cans. During the latter 19th century these industries went into decline, due principally to global competition, and the last productive mine, South Crofty, closed in 1998.
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