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knocker

Cornwall's Mining Heritage-Pt2

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Two photos of Engine shaft at Barncoose Mine. The above ground photo is the capped shaft in the garden of what used to be the count house of the mine. The lady who lives there said they had been there for forty years and originally it was open but being afraid their kids would disappear they had it privately capped.

 

The underground photo is the rising main of the shaft. Credit photo to Sharon Schwartz. Sharon is an expert on Cornish mining and has written extensively on it.

 

 

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I walked the Lands End - St.Ives coastal track a few years ago. There are some wonderful remnants of old mining infrastructure along that route ( if you happen to detour off the well known track and go further inland, much more can be seen ). Zennor for example is an interesting spot. I thought it mildly interesting at the time, but I certainly like the further information and pictures you have supplied.

 

Quite a bit of mining history in Tasmania's west aswell, but messier and mostly open-pit...and of course we are talking a much shorter timeframe of activity!

 

I have particular interest in the time frame it takes for the natural environmental processes that unfold to 'rehabilitate' old mining sites. Some of the sights I saw in Cornwall: erosion, trees, shrubs and vines had come into reclaim their spot...such a strange experience to see evidence of that evolution so starkly and then to think about all the sweat and toil that happened on that spot I was standing on centuries ago.

 

Sometime ago you had a thread about the pit ponies and horses ...got to admit that was news to me, and one of the most fascination revelations I have read about in a long time.     

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I'm afraid I don't get around Zennor very much as I don't have a car which limits one somewhat. I have a friend who has moved down to Penwith and we share the same interests so perhaps this summer.

 

Moving nearer home, yours not mine, I was just reading about Mt Lyell copper mine. Seems a bit dodgy working there. What did they eventually decide?

 

Mt Lyell mine to reveal future for workforce during safety shutdown after mine deaths

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-11/some-mt-lyell-mine-contractors-on-half-pay-as-shutdown-continues/5253292

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Many of the mines outside of the urban areas have gone back to nature. A couple of shots of Wheal Busy, Old Sump at Killefreth that took me about an hour to find and the engine house at Basset and Grylls.

 

 

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There is something quite evocative about old sites being reclaimed by nature.

 

Not sure about the Mt.Lyell situation... If there has been a development, I may have actually missed it.  I think you are correct, it appears something dodgy is happening there. It also happens to be the site of Tasmania's worst industrial disaster, 101 years ago. So.. having said that, perhaps it's just a case that that particular area is just more geologically unstable than other sites, more risk averse.

 

On the flip side, Tasmania's west coast towns rely almost exclusively on mining activity to survive, very little economic diversity. The area is quite remote and seperated from the rest of the island by mountains and wilderness and hydroelectricity dams. It's another world away compared to cosmopolitan Hobart and the east, in lifestyle and social attitude. It is easy to think that corners are being cut to maintain the viability of mining over there. Unfortuently a lot of Tasmania's history is littered with examples of industry being given an inappropriate legup by government, hence the rise of the Green party. 

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Some of the best surface remains are from the Basset Mines around the village of Carnkie (Redruth),

 

A Buddle is a structure that uses water to separate cassiterite from lighter gangue material.

 

A calciner is a furnace for roasting ore to remove arsenides and sulphides.

 

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Do you know more about the reasons why miners were suspicious of hospitals knocker?

 

 

There was clearly a need for proper medical care, but the only hospital that existed was in Truro. E.W.W. Pendarves offered to turn a country house into a hospital, but these attempts were met with suspicion by the miners, who threatened to tear down any buildings constructed – an attitude by no means unique among British workers at the time.

http://www.cornish-mining.org.uk/delving-deeper/work-life

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Do you know more about the reasons why miners were suspicious of hospitals knocker?

 

I'm not sure that it was just miners Styx.I think there was a general suspicion amongst the poor that the hospital at Truro was being used for experimentation. I'll look into it out of interest.

 

The hospital at Redruth had some strange regulations if I remember correctly. (I would need to check my files) but a miner wasn't admitted if he was dying. I think the idea was to avoid long term care.

 

The Bickford fuze factory mentioned in the article is a disgrace. It's been left to fall down. and it was of worldwide importance.

 

 

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In 2008 they created smoke in the chimneys of various engine house in the Camborne area to create the effect of the 'stacks' being alive again.. The photo is looking across the valley at Carnkie. This area used to be the Basset Mines and 100 years ago was a mining wasteland. Nature has now reclaimed it.

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A couple of archive photos of Marriott's Shaft Basset Utd Mines. This formerly was part of South Wheal Frances Mine. One showing the bal maidens.

 

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The original thread has been archived.

 

http://forum.netweather.tv/topic/64065-cornwalls-mining-heritage/

 

These are a couple of archive photos of Marriott's Shaft at Basset United Mine and the same shaft today. Note the young lads in the group photo.

Not many fatties in that picture...life might have been tough even austere, but the food they did have was nutritious and above all not full of E numbers, additives and general krap.

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Not many fatties in that picture...life might have been tough even austere, but the food they did have was nutritious and above all not full of E numbers, additives and general krap.

 

Not sure austere is the word I would use. That photo was around 1900, when the industry was on it's last legs, but at it's height during the 19th century things weren't so clever food wise. A snapshot taken from the Cornish Miner by the great historian Hamilton Jenkin.

 

" The hungry 'forties," indeed, were hardly less deserving of their name in Cornwall than in the rest of England. The following reminiscences of an old miner give a picture of Cornish working-class life in those days which tells more than pages of statistics. " Everything was very dear," he wrote, "and the working people were half-starved. My father had the standard wages for surface hands, which was £2 5s. a month, and I was earning 10s. a month, so that £2 15s. a month had to provide for five of us. For our breakfast we had barley gruel, which consisted of about three quarts of water and a halfpenny-worth of skimmed milk thickened with barley flour, . a concoction which went by the name of 'sky-blue and sinker.' We lived about half a mile from the mine, and I had to go home to dinner. I can assure the reader that I was sometimes so feeble that I could scarcely crawl along.For dinner we had sometimes a barley pasty with a bit or two of fat pork on the potatoes, and for supper a barley cake or stewedpotatoes or turnips with a barley cover. Everything was very dear ; groceries such as raisins and currants were 10d. per pound, tea 4s. a pound and the Common brown sugar 5d. a pound .I never saw at that time such a thing as jam. Barley flour was £2 per bag of 240 lb., and wheat flour £4 per bag of 280 lb."

 

And of course there is the history of the food riots but that's another story. 

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J.C. Burrow was the greatest underground photographer of Cornish mining in the late 19th century. His photographs are staggering considering the difficulties involved. I have copies of some of his photos but they are ©. A first edition of his 1893 book would cost you thousands always assuming you could find a copy.

 

Anyway I've just come across a Daily Mai feature from last year which shows some of these photos and I think it worth sticking in here. Plus for those interested in the technique he used and just how difficult it was a short PDF. The photos in no way do the originals justice.

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2633713/Rare-early-flash-photography-images-Cornish-miners-digging-tin-1890s-reveal-perilous-conditions-toiled.html

Camera.pdf

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Some surface remains around Carnkie

 

The small village of Carnkie, near Redruth, is surrounded by many mining artefacts left over from the days when it was a hub of mining activity. These include engine houses, shafts, buddle floors, vanner houses, etc. Over one hundred years ago the whole of the valley landscape would have been dominated by mining activity but since this ceased  once again nature has taken over.

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