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Cornwall’s tin mining heritage

  • Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK)

Last updated: 28 April, 2024

The tin industry played a vital role in the development of Cornwall, from the early Bronze Age until the 20th century. At one time, Cornwall was one of the world’s leading producers of tin, and the industry shaped the region’s economy, culture, and landscape. The industry was based on the mining of tin and other minerals, such as copper and arsenic, and the processing of these minerals into metal.

The industry declined in the 20th century due to a combination of factors, including competition from other countries, falling prices, and the depletion of reserves. Its legacy, however, can still be noticeably seen in the region’s abandoned tine mines – some of which have been restored and preserved – that pepper the landscape.

Who to go with: tour operators

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King Edward Mine Museum

  • Cambornev, Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK)

King Edward Mine Museum

Experience

A 100-year-old preserved tin mine showcasing the history of mining (and the Mineral Tramways generally); much of the original mining equipment remains. It includes the Mineral Tramways Discovery Centre, with displays and information about the old mineral tramways, the mines, the ports used by the industry and the people involved with the trade.

Adult price: £8

Good for age: 8+

  • Redruth, Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK)

Blessed with more than 40 different minerals, especially lucrative tin and copper, Cornwall became the richest part of Britain in the early 19th century, pioneering global development of the mining industry. As Poldark fans will know, in the late 19th century, increasing foreign competition depressed prices making mining less and less economical. The industry entered a period of steady decline, and the last mine, South Crofty, closed in 1998.

The Mineral Tramways Heritage Project has been working to preserve Cornwall’s central mining district, a scenic landscape of lovely Cornish countryside that’s studded with (safe) abandoned mines, mining villages and other heritage sites.

A 60km network of multi-use trails now crisscross the area, many following the original tramway and railway routes once used to transport ore and supplies to and from the many mines to the coastal ports. It’s easy going, and packed with local wildlife.

Good for age: 4+

Duration: -

Geevor Tin Mine Museum

  • Penzance, Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK)

Aerial Photograph of Geevor Tin Mine, Pendeen, PZ, Cornwall, England

Experience

This 18th-century tin mine – preserved exactly as it was since the last miner left in 1990 – it’s a must for anyone wanting to learn about Cornwall’s former tin industry. There’s an on-site ‘Hard Rock’ museum, and the chance to explore underground passageways. Open Sunday-Thursday, great for families.

Adult price: £18

Good for age: 4+

Logistics

Price from: £-
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around