Designated Collections

 “The Designation Scheme identifies the pre-eminent collections of national and international importance held in England's non-national museums, libraries and archives, based on their quality and significance. These inspiring collections represent a vital part of our national cultural and artistic heritage.” (Arts Council Website)

Did you know that some of the Archives and Cornish Studies Service’s collections have Designated status?

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This accolade is given to collections that are iconic, unique and authentic. Cornwall’s Designated collections tell the story of the county’s mining history. They include:

insights into the workings of the early ‘miners’ parliament’ (the Stannary)

designs for the technological inventions which made Cornwall famous the world over

They include gems such as:

  • letters from engineers Matthew Boulton and James Watt complaining about Richard Trevithick
  • detailed cost books outlining every miner’s job and pay
  • accounts and correspondence from some of the richest families in Cornwall
  • letters vividly describing the lives of migrant miners overseas

Watercolour plans show the honeycomb of shafts and tunnels which run through the Cornish earth. Photographs bring to life the reality of working in these. Newspaper articles and official reports detail the tragic disasters which sometimes befell those that did.

While these sources are clearly invaluable for mining historians, they offer so much more than that. They can be used to illuminate:

  • the history of Methodism
  • the epic tale of travel and settlement overseas
  • the continued growth of communications and technology
  • the stories of wealthy families and landed estates
  • the growth and impact of the industrial revolution in Britain (and the rest of the world)

They also provide vital and fascinating insights into the lives and culture of people in Cornwall (and beyond) in the past.

The mining collections are vast and varied. Like the history of Cornish mining itself, they are woven into the very fabric of Cornwall’s heritage. They are Designated due to their scale and depth, as well as the rich tales they tell about the enormous impact mining had on Cornwall, and its enduring legacy.

You can find out more about the records we hold which relate to mining by following the links below: