240 pages, colour photos, map
In The Story of Mining in Cornwall, Allen Buckley narrates 4,000 years of mining history with clarity, detail and a warm human sympathy.
This is a new history, based on the most recent research and findings. It is magnificently illustrated, with much rare and original material. Allen Buckley's qualifications as a working miner and an academic historian make him uniquely equipped to deliver this narrative, this technical understanding, this social awareness and this foresight into the future of Cornish mining.
It seems expensive, but this book is a very valuable piece of work as it brings together accurate and interesting text with some excellent photographs, many in colour. The description of early mining operations, complete with photographs of tools, ingots, even a figurine makes absorbing reading. The book's table-top format and 240 pages gives plenty of space to appreciate the detail in many old engravings, paintings and photographs. The whole period of copper and tin working from the earliest to the last (apparently) in 1998 is covered in 177 pages. Now I know the details of the desperate attempts made to save Geevor Mine (and the value of my shares!). There is also a whole chapter on the working of the lesser known minerals of the county, gold, silver, lead, zinc, iron, manganese, antimony, tungsten, barytes and fluorspar among others. What a treasure house of minerals" Cornwall was and is. Another chapter deals with the China Clay and Slate industries, both still very active Although mainly worked by surface mining methods there was, in the past, an element of shaft sinking and tunnelling in the working of the china clay. As for slate, this has been worked both underground and from surface, the "cave" complex at Carnglaze was until recently a show mine and the great Delabole slate operations is still being worked although on a much smaller scale. Chapter 12 (page 204 onwards) "Cornish Miners and Mining into the future" is another great pleasure of this book. The work on the Cornish miners abroad over the years is well known but less well known are the "consultancies", laboratories and contractors all based in Cornwall, using mainly Cornish men and ideas who now work both nationally and internationally. The drillers (whose heritage is from Holmans), still drill in mines and quarries, but have added drilling at sea. The tunnellers and mineral processors all are still with us. The final note is about the present tentative plans to re-open South Crofty. It is not only Cornishmen who wish it success but thousands more who understand mining throughout the world. This is a fine book, well produced and worthy of a great industry, now very much part of Britain's mining heritage." Ivor Brown, Below 2006.1 "Worth every penny, this sumptuous book is a real pleasure to handle and explore. It is the first modern overview of mining in Cornwall from prehistory to the present day since the publication of A. K. Hamilton Jenkin's "The Cornish Miner" of 1927. Allen Buckley is ideally and uniquely suited as author, as not only is he a skilled tin miner himself but also a trained historian. The illustrations are magnificent, with several full page colour images, of mines, miners, documents, maps, minerals etc, including reproductions of several splendid paintings. Notes & References, a Bibliography, a Glossary and an Index all add to the value. It is particularly refreshing to see the 19th century, which so often dominates writing, set in a properly balanced context of what happened before and after that era, so that the reader gets a truly impressive sense of the enormous sweep of the time involved, of national historical events, of technological change and innovation, and of conditions for the working miner, all clearly laid out in a highly readable text. The book focuses on the story of tin and copper mining, but china clay working and slate quarrying also receive coverage, as do numerous other minerals found in the county. It also touches on the role that skilled Cornish miners play in the modern world, internationally. Many original historical sources have been used, and the summary of the difficulties of the 20th century is especially interesting. Two perhaps surprising omissions are mentions of Lynne Mayer's book on "Balmaidens" (2004), or of the wonderful tin working complex still operating at Blue Hills near St Agnes. There are a few mostly minor inaccuracies but they are insignificant given the overall impact of the book. The book gives a very useful setting for the story of Devon mining which is inextricably linked to that of Cornwall, though with some significant differences. Altogether it is a masterly synthesis, a worthy and splendid record of the extraordinary story of Cornish mining, which will be invaluable for generations to come." Dartmoor Magazine
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