The Spread of Cornish Mining around the Globe
Cornwall has long been known as a starting point for famous sea journeys and adventures – but some of the most extraordinary stories are those of ordinary miners seeking fortune far and wide.
Take a trip with mining machinery and manpower
Find out how the mining culture of Cornwall affected different parts of the world.
At the start of the 19th century, Cornwall’s mining industry was thriving. The industrial revolution and the development of high-pressure steam power meant Cornish mining was becoming world-renowned for its sophistication.
Many Cornish emigrants came to settle in Australia’s developing mining regions in the mid-19th century. Nearly half of all immigrants in South Australia by 1865 were Cornish. Cornish workers had a big impact not only on Australia’s mining industry but also on the culture we associate with the country today.
During the 1800s, Kimberly in South Africa saw the world’s greatest ever diamond rush. Hard rock mining techniques were required to extract the precious stones and so Cornish immigrants flooded in to try and make their fortune.
The mines of Latin America were amongst the first to attract Cornish miners overseas in the early 19th century. Latin America had started recruiting from Cornwall by the 1820s and continued to do so right up until the 1930s.
When the 19th century mining boom hit the American West, the Cornish were considered some of the best hard rock miners in the world. Many of them subsequently migrated and settled in North America’s many mining regions.
Mines across Latin America were amongst the first to attract significant Cornish labour away from the British Isles.
Cornish miners had been migrating in limited numbers from Cornwall to other parts of the UK from the early 1700s. In particular, their skill was to be increasinly in demand in the mining regions of Wales, northern England and Ireland over the next 200 years.