(2008) Holman’s No. 3 Rock Drill Works

The Holman’s No.3 Rock Drill Works is a primary mining ancillary industry site within Camborne, a key element of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site (WHS), and a manufactory whose highly regarded products were sold the world over. It was compressed air rock drills from this works which were to hold a series of world drilling speed records in the early years of the twentieth-century; by 1907, a Holman’s machine had held the title on no less than three occasions in South Africa (1904 and 1907 - twice), and once in Australia (1906). The industrial complex is a rare survivor from Camborne’s heyday as a world-renown centre for the production of hard-rock mining machinery.

Since the closure of the No.3 Works in 1980 the site has been the focus of number of regeneration proposals none of which could successfully meet the many heritage conservation challenges posed. The current plans devised by Arrowcity Ltd. and the architects Lilly Lewarne Practice to construct a mixed housing and flats development have been progressed over the last three years to the point where the interests of the WHS are clearly reflected in the scheme.

Careful negotiations have resulted in several key WHS objectives being secured, including 

  • the preservation of all the historic buildings and retention of the site’s OUV
  • the design of the new-build houses and apartments has been influenced to ensure they are in-keeping with the industrial character of the site, thus retaining the lower site occupation density rather than inappropriately mimicking the surrounding high-density housing
  • Cornwall County Council’s Historic Environment Service Advice Team, acting on behalf of the WHS Office, have worked with the developer to commission a full recording programme for historic buildings and buried archaeology in advance of redevelopment as a PPG16 planning Condition

The Cornish Mining WHS Office have supported the latest planning application and see this site as an exemplar of what can be achieved when discussions are instigated at an early stage between heritage agencies and developers. Deborah Boden, World Heritage Site Co-ordinator, commented 

“The developers, Arrowcity Ltd working with Lilly Lewarne Practice, are to be congratulated for responding positively to the distinctive character of this site and ensuring that this is retained within the development proposals.”

Ainsley Cocks, 2008