Camborne today: The "square" off Treloworran
(Cornish: Kammbronn, 'Crooked Hill') is located in the far west of Cornwall,
UK, and was once one of the richest mining areas in the world. With a
population of approximately 22,500 it's a town all too aware of its industrial
and mining past. It's at the western end of the Camborne, Pool and Redruth
conurbation which, together with the various 'satellite' villages, has
a total population of approximately 45,000, making it the largest urban
build-up in Cornwall.
the eighteenth century, Camborne Churchtown was a hamlet surrounded by
moorland. It was just a village in a district of villages, most of which
were larger than Camborne. The original approach road was at Tuckingmill
where travellers had to follow an indirect route via Treswithian to reach
the building of the great turnpike road through Cornwall in 1839, Camborne's
isolation ended. The old approach lane, Baker's Lane, was extended and
later became Trelowarren Street which today is Camborne's main shopping
Street, 1902 and 2006
During the first half of the 19th century Camborne prospered and became
one of the most industrialised towns in the world. This was due to the
incredible concentration of tin mines that were in and all around the
town. Pigot's Directory for Camborne, 1830 says, 'From being a very
insignificant place this town is fast riding into opulence and consequently
importance from the valuable mines of tin and copper surrounding it'.
reached the peak of its prosperity in the mid nineteenth century. In 1841
the population numbered 10,061 and by 1871 this had risen to 14,929, the
highest ever figure. But most mining families were desperately poor and
conditions in the mines were dreadful. Accidents were frequent, and there
were many deaths. Women worked on the surface handling the ore as bal
maidens and children started work as young as eight. The average life-span
of the underground miners was under forty years.
Riots against wage-cuts, working conditions
and redundancies were common, drunkenness, brawling and vice endemic.
In this atmosphere, similar to that of the Klondyke frontier towns, the
mining communities were a fertile recruiting ground for early Methodists
and Chartist groups. On one
occasion rioting in Camborne became so bad that the police could not cope
and the militia was sent for. They were quickly nicknamed the Red Jackets
and those times are remembered still in the name of the pub in Trevenson
Red Jackets Pub Centenary
Wesley had brought Methodism, a strict Christian faith with it's tee-total
philosophy, to Cornwall in the mid eighteenth century and as the word
spread many miners, wreckers, smugglers and fishermen changed their ways.
Views on Methodism vary; some
say it brought order and faith into a barbaric culture others say it pacified
the workforce into greater suffering in the name of God. In some areas
the Methodists improved rural life and education. In other towns, the
poor gave all they had to erect places for worship. Cornwall now has hundreds
of Methodist chapels and it is still the principle denomination.
There are now just
two Methodist Chapels in Camborne including the one I attended as a boy
- Centenary. Now, with Wesley Chapel, they now work together as "Camborne
Today the Camborne Methodist Churches are busy places, offering worship
and service for the community. They are open Monday to Friday. See
because of international competition, the mining industry went into serious
decline in the middle to late nineteenth century and by the 1870's Camborne
men, together with men from other Cornish mining areas, were emigrating
in huge numbers seeking
mining work in
the mines of the Americas, Australasia and South Africa..
By 1880 two-thirds of Cornish miners - 'Cousin Jacks' - had emigrated
as they were renowned as the best miners you could find. It has long been
said that, wherever you may go in the world, if you see a hole in the
ground, you will find a Cornishman at the bottom of it ! Incidentally
Cornish miners also built stone engine houses exactly like the ones in
Cornwall and there are examples still standing in several old mining regions
around the world. I would like a picture if you have/know of one. Meantime
there is more info and pictures HERE
mining did continue in Camborne on a sizable scale into the twentieth
century largely due to the extremely rich Dolcoath (Cornish: Old Ground)
mine. Known as the 'Queen of Mines' because it was deeper and more productive
than any other Cornish mine, it supported hundreds of families for generations.
For many years it was the deepest mine in the world (3500 feet (1067 m),
not to mention one of the oldest. When Dolcoath closed in 1921 it was
literally the end of an era. Or was it? Read on!
Industrial Landscape at Tuckingmill, Camborne. Note Carn Brea in the background.
few mines managed to keep going and among these was South
Crofty which modernised and took up many of the abandoned setts of
the district. South Crofty kind of weathered the disastrous crash of 1985
when the International Tin Council was scrapped and the price of tin plummeted.
It soldiered on with government assistance covering losses of £33
million over 10 years until it finally closed in 1998. It was the last
Cornish mine to survive into the late 20th century and its closure was
a massive body blow to Cornish people everywhere but especially to the
people of the Camborne area where the last 200 Cornish miners were thrown
out of work. Read more about the Camborne Redruth mining area here.
In 1998, words painted
on the Crofty site wall read "Cornish lads are fishermen and Cornish
lads are miners too but now the fish and tin are gone what are Cornish
boys to do?"
When I first wrote this section, Baseresult,
the owners of the South Crofty site, and the Regional
Development Agency were in disagreement over the future of the site.
This disagreement had smouldered away for several years with Baseresult
claiming that they wish to restart mining commercially while the RDA were
anxious to develop this strategic site for business and housing in the
Camborne / Redruth area. Even the draconian powers of compulsory purchase
were muted. When the the world price of tin began to rise significantly,
Baseresult ramped up their campaign by leafleting the whole town and going
live with a new website. At one time they opened their site as a visitor
attraction offering underground tours in old workings above the level
of the currently flooded main mine.
timeline of South Crofty developments has moved to here
but the situation now, in 2013, is that the mine has been placed in administration
after the backers stopped funding the development.
of Camborne's rich mining past abound and the preserved remains of many
old mine engine houses and other industrial archaeological features can
be seen everywhere. Of particularly interest to the tourist is the circular
seven and a half mile "Great
Flat Lode Trail" (more..) (more..)
which has laid out by Kerrier council and can be enjoyed on foot or on
Peevor © R Jelbert
School of Mines was founded in Camborne in 1882, originally in the
centre of the town and later, on the Campus of Cornwall College, Pool.
It has trained mining engineers from every part of the world such is
it's reputation. Sadly for Camborne the SOM has again relocated, this
time to the University of Cornwall Campus at Penryn.
related industry continued in Camborne until 2001 when the world renowned
Holman Brother's engineering factory closed. Holman's compressed air rock
drills were a boon to the ailing mining industy towards the end of the
nineteenth century and increased the productivity in the mines that used
them. Probably they were able to continue in operation when otherwise
they might have closed. The main factory site was close to the centre
of town on the site now built on by Tescos. There were other plants located
around the town and at Pool. Holmans had provided employment, directly
or indirectly, for almost every family in the town for the greater part
of the twentieth century.
A Holman rock drill at Grenville United Mine, Feb 1910 *pic2
piece on Camborne would be complete without reference to its connection
with the famous engineer Richard
Trevithick who built the world's first self powered road locomotive
and tested it in the town. The folk song 'Camborne Hill' recalls the event
on Christmas eve 1801 and you can
listen to it here. Every year, on the last Saturday in April, the
town celebrates Richard Trevithick's achievments on"Trevithick
Day". The streets are closed to traffic and are lined with stalls
of every description. A great collection of steam tractors and rollers
are not only lined up on display but parade on a route through the town
streets. A great occasion not to be missed.
Richard Trevithick's statue outside Camborne
is technically regarded as a depressed area so, for example, under government
rules many homes are exempted from stamp duty. Witness this written
evidence by Camborne, Pool and Redruth (CPR) Regeneration (COA 23).
But things are on the up and Camborne, Pool and Redruth are now at the
centre of a £150 million redevelopment scheme which hopes to reverse
decades of social-economic decline in this former industrial heartland
of Cornwall. 'CPR Regeneration', one of the government's 19 'URCs' or
Urban Regeneration Companies, oversee one of the largest urban renewal
projects in the country, driving the regeneration of up to 1.5 square
kilometres of land with the aim of creating more than 4,000 jobs and increasing
wages in the area by 15%. Camborne
Town Council's own website reflects the optimism of the new Camborne
in the 21st century. Their site also includes this
list of Camborne orientated web links.
events in Camborne
All through the year,
Day...Sat 27th April 2013
Show...Sat 20th July 2013
I add to
this page as time and inspiration permits. I am neither an historian or
a good writer. If you found it interesting and would like to email me
with comments or suggestions on things I could add, I'd like to hear from
you. Similarly, If you disagree or notice factual errors get in touch.
My email address is at the top of my homepage.
Check out these other Other Camborne links
report broken links. Email address at the top of my homepage..Thanks
Taken from the book "Mining in Cornwall", Vol One. J Trounson,
Pub: Moorland Publishing Company.
Taken from "Historic Cornish Mining Scenes Underground" editor
D.B.Barton, Pub: D.Bradford Barton Ltd.