Much of Cornwall’s landscape was transformed throughout the 18th and 19th centuries due to the pioneering copper and tin mining. The mines, engine houses, foundries, towns and ports which developed from the mining had a huge effect on the south-western county, and what remains show the contribution Cornwall and West Devon made to Britain’s Industrial Revolution.
The Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape was officially selection to be UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006, and this world-renowned recognition has become another draw for visitors to the area. There is so much to explore when staying at our boutique hotel in Cornwall, we have put together the highlights you should check out.
Geevor Tin Mine
Located in Pendeen on the Cornish coastline, Geevor is one of the largest preserved mining sites, consisting of listed buildings, collections and guides about the history of Geevor’s mining past. There is an underground tour detailing what mining was like in the 18th century, hands-on experience in the Hard Rock museum which covers the tin mining Geevor was famous for, a chance to explore the abandoned buildings that house original machinery and you can pan for gems too.
Though Charlestown was originally a port for the fishing trade, it became a place to facilitate the transport of copper from the nearby mines. Due to the industry, the town expanded and the population increased, and Charlestown was also used to transport china clay. Today, it is a popular tourist spot for visitors, as much of the town's buildings haven’t changed and it is used as a filming location for TV and films, including Poldark and Doctor Who. A must-see is the Charlestown Shipwreck and Heritage Centre.
Poldark Mine is the only complete tin mine and is open for guided tours underground. It is regarded as one of the unmissable points of the Cornish Mining Landscape. Located near Helston on the Lizard Peninsula, the mine has a special place in the tin mining heritage of the county, due to being complete. There are caverns, several tunnels and shafts and a large beam engine to explore, and visitors can still see the ore-bearing granite, some of which is 20 million years old.
Levant Mine and Beam Engine
The dramatic clifftop Levant Mine and Beam Engine offer visitors an insight into what life was like for the men and women working in the mines. The mine is looked after by the National Trust, and you can see the 1840 beam engine working, and follow hundreds of miners footsteps through the tunnels, hearing tales of what life was like. Guided tours are provided to give a detailed view of the Levant Mine. Fans of the TV series Poldark will also recognise the mine, as parts were filmed around it.
On the north coast of Cornwall is the picturesque village of St Agnes. The village has a long mining history, with the highlight being the Wheal Coates engine house, part of the World Heritage Site. Copper, tin and arsenic were mined around St Agnes until the 1920s. What remains of the mining site today is the Wheal Coates ruined engine house, Towanroath engine house, chimneys and old houses for the miners. Though no underground tours are held at Wheal Coates, the iconic landmark boasts stunning coastal views, and there are fantastic walks to do in the area.
Have you visited any of these mining heritage sites before? Let us know about your experience on our social media channels! Have a read of our other blog posts about activities to do when you next visit Fowey and Cornwall!