Ambra Books Home page


By George Henwood - 1855.

Sample text :-

AT a time when public attention is so much directed to the gold streams, or fields (as they are called) of Australia and California, and when such a spirit of mining speculation is so generally developing itself, I think a few words on the tin streams of Cornwall, to which I conceive them to be somewhat analagous, may not be uninteresting or uninstructive, particularly as in the Cornish diggings considerable quantities of gold have from time to time been discovered, bearing the same characteristics and appearances as the products of those celebrated washings, to which so much interest is attached. I think also the importance and antiquity of these great national sources of wealth deserve to be better known than they appear to be in this neighbourhood, and a glance at their methods of obtaining the metal, and the difficulties to be surmounted, may be of service to some aspirant gold diggers, as the conditions on which they are to be procured are precisely similar. I fear I shall have some difficulty in conveying a correct idea of these undertakings to those wholly strangers to mining matters, particularly the ladies. I shall endeavour by maps and diagrams soto simplify and explain them, that I trust I may not be altogether unsuccessful.

It is, perhaps, necessary for me to premise, that tin is found in various forms in Cornwall, that is to say, in lodes or veins, which are generally perpendicular, seldom varying more than 20; in this situation it is found attached to, or intermixed with, quartz matrix, and often combined with copper, arsenic, iron, sulphur, and other minerals. These lodes often extend great distances, and are worked to vast depths (in many instances from 200 to 300 fms.) usually in very hard rocks, and are wrought at a very great outlay of capital. The requisite steam engines for pumping water and raising the waste and mineral from such tremendous excavations, and the quantities of gunpowder used in blasting them, are very serious items in the cost book; coals in Cornwall are very expensive, they are brought from Wales, and are from 12s. to 16s. per ton.* Tin is also found in what are termed floors, or nearly horizontal strata ; these occur at no great depths, or in very hard ground, but of these floors I shall treat more fully at the end of my paper, as I shall then require to advert to them and their formation, by way of illustration. Lastly, tin is found in what are locally, and properly, termed streams, and are certainly the beds of some tremendous torrents, usually ascribed to the period of the general deluge. They are situated in the valleys and ravines of the hills in the mining districts, were formerly very numerous and extensive, and from being situated so near the surface, and presenting so few mechanical obstacles, were worked, as we shall see, at a very Since the above was written, coals have advanced to 18s. and 20s. per ton, and every article in milling use has advanced fully 20 per cent. early period - indeed, I should say, in the very infancy of mining. Of some of these it is my intention to speak on the present occasion. What I propose is to speak of those streams only that have come under my own personal inspection, either in the way of business or pleasure, of their situations, appearances, productions, antiquities discovered in the course of working, animal and fossil remains, and the methods adopted to work them at the time of my acquaintance with them. I shall then speculate on the probable sources from which these vast deposits have been derived, and conclude by a slight glance at the character, superstitions, and peculiarities of the Cornish tinner.

The names of the streams are the Carnon, Nancothan, and the Bog ; the first is working to this clay, the Nancothan is worked out, and the last discontinued, from the bickerings and poverty of the proprietors. I shall commence with the stream work of the greatest importance as regards wealth and interest, viz., the Carnon. In this paper I cannot pretend to enter into the statistics of the value of its produce, as I have no means of doing so; and having been worked by so many different sets of proprietors, I very much question if it be possible at this day for any one to do so correctly. This great work commences near the Carn Brea Hill or mountain, in the parish and near the town of Camborne, and after a circuitous route of about nine or ten miles through the parishes of Illogan, Redruth, Gwennap, Stythians, and Per-ran, (all these parishes abound in metallic deposits, and contain some of the largest and richest mines of tin and copper in the world,) terminates between the parishes of Feock and Mylor, at Restronguet Creek, a branch of Falmouth Harbour.... '

If you require this work and cannot find a copy on the site :- LOCAL HISTORY [ Selection of Antiquarian and Secondhand Books ]
then please e-mail me [ Ivor Cornish ] at:- and I will let you know if a copy has recently turned up, or if I can obtain one.

We specialise in buying and selling LOCAL HISTORY and WEST COUNTRY books.

LOCAL HISTORY :- Selection of manuscripts, maps, ephemera etc. for sale from Lesley Aitchison.

Back to the Top

Copyright © Ambra Books 2003. All rights reserved.