Mining Characters and Society

From terraced cottages to grand stately homes, rugby to rhododendrons – the stories of lives lived around mining reveal the successes and struggles of Cornish communities. 

Mining Characters and Society

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The Cornish Miner

The Cornish Mining World Heritage Site is not just about the impressive landscapes you see today, but also very much about its people. Thousands of Cornish men, women and children worked long hard hours to meet the challenges of a rapidly evolving world. 
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Miners at Dolcoath Sharron Schwartz

Women in Mining

Not only did women play a key part in the home life of miners by keeping their homes and smallholdings running whilst raising families alongside taking in extended family members, they also worked at the mines themselves. 
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Bal Maidens at Dolcoath

Great Houses and Gardens

Many great houses and estates were created and embellished by money made from the mining industry. A number of outstanding houses and gardens in Cornwall which once belonged to the mineral lords, or the industrial ‘nouveau riche’, still survive today.
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Scorrier House Barry Gamble


From the mid-18th century, Methodism began to grow in popularity in Cornwall – particularly amongst the mining communities, who took great comfort in its messages of self-improvement and salvation.
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Scorrier Chapel Barry Gamble

Home Life

Living conditions for many families were shockingly hard due to a lack of sanitation, uncertain water supplies and overcrowded homes. But life wasn’t just brutish and short – these difficult conditions bred a strong sense of self-reliance, whilst shared experience built stronger communities.
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Portreath Inclined Plane Ainsley Cocks

Work Life

By the early 19th century, many of Cornwall and west Devon’s mines were huge employers. Despite being an intensive process of hard physical labour in often poor conditions, it was the first choice occupation for most Cornish men and women due to the generally better wages on offer. 
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70 Fathom Level Tramroad East Pool Mine

Mining Bosses and Businesses

It wasn’t just the mineral lords who stood to make a fortune out of mining. There were other means for people who could spot an opportunity to make money.  Those with the foresight or business acumen to seize it built fortunes which made them the new elite of their societies. 
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John Taylor

Mineral Lords

Landowners with substantial estates could make a fortune from leasing out mineral rights – much more than they would have made through agriculture. They quickly became hugely wealthy, earning them the name ‘mineral lords’.
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J T Treffry Ainsley Cocks


From the legendary Cornish Pasty to saffron buns, Cornish mining nurtured unique, hearty and tasty foods whose popularity is unsurpassed to this day.
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Cornish Pasty Ainsley Cocks


While miners worked hard, they also played hard. Football, rugby, and Cornish wrestling were widely practiced. And wherever the miners went, they took their favoured sports with them. 
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S Ham and T Pearce Cornish Wrestling Association