The Infrastrusture to Support Mining Processes

The infrastructure to support mining: Harvey's FoundryEverywhere you go in Cornwall, there’s physical evidence of a region shaped by mining. Roads, railways, towns and harbours were all developed to support and expand this crucial industry.

See how mining shaped lives and landscapes 

Michell's Whim, East Pool Mine, photo courtesy of Barry GambleMost mineral lodes in Cornwall and west Devon stretch vertically underground far below the natural water table, so mining could only go as deep as the drainage technology available at the time allowed. With the development of the high-pressure steam-pumping engine in the early 19th century, ore bodies could be exploited at much greater depths thereby helping to prolong a mine’s productive life.

The Treffry Viaduct in the Luxulyan Valley by Barry Gamble   
Cornwall was once laced with a network of tramways and railways, used to bring coal to power the mine engines and take the ore away.

Charlestown Harbour, photo courtesy of Barry GambleSea transport was crucial to the Cornish mining industry. Cornwall is a peninsula and nowhere in the Site is much more than 20 kilometres from the sea. Proximity to the coast counterbalanced the industry’s geographically peripheral position in the far south-west of Britain, opening it up to the world.

Luxulyan Treffry Viaduct, photo courtesy of Barry GambleThe expansion of the mining transport network meant dramatic changes had to be made for the landscape to be navigable. Replacing mules with tramroads and railways was the beginning, but access was still needed across bodies of water. This led to the construction of some of the region’s most technically advanced bridge structures.

St Just, photo courtesy of Barry Gamble   
Large scale industrial development in the mining industry created employment opportunities which boosted rapid population growth. Settlements sprang up in and around mining regions, where rows of terraced houses were built.

Scorrier Chapel, photo courtesy of Adam SharpeAlong with the rows of terraced cottages and engine houses that survive to this day, Cornwall and west Devon have a number of impressive public buildings that were built from the wealth that copper and tin production brought to the area in the 19th century. Many remain as poignant reminders of the impact of metalliferous mining.

Cothele and Tamar, photo courtesy of Barry Gamble 
The explosion in growth of the Cornwall and west Devon mining industries created a demand for a number of supporting industries to supply both the mines and its workforce, as well as processing its output.