The Ruins of Industry
Cornwall, in the south west of England has a long history of mining that stretches back to the Bronze Age, approximately three and a half thousand years ago – at its peak there were around 3,000 engine houses in use. At the end of the nineteenth century though, quantities of tin were discovered overseas and as a result, prices for tin in the UK plummeted. This in turn meant that mines began to close across the south west in the early to mid 1900s. During this time, a third of Cornwall’s mining population emigrated overseas to work elsewhere in the face of unbearable hardship at home. The last of the Cornish mines, South Crofty finally closed its doors in 1998 – and this spelt the end not only of a 3000+ year old regional industry, responsible for most of the world’s tin in the last century, but also the last tin mine in all of Europe. Cornish mining was appointed World Heritage status in 2006.
These days the coastline of Cornwall is scattered with the ruins of old mines and engine houses. A few of them are perched on the side of cliff faces overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Others are inland surrounded by sparse farmland, adding a unique slice of character to the area.