A PHOTOGRAPHIC JOURNEY INTO CORNISH MINES IN THE 21st CENTURY
Everyone knows about the Cornish Tin Mines.
It’s something that Cornwall is famous for, that and pasties and clotted cream (jam first, of course).
But what do we really know?
For instance, did you know that it was copper that was the most mined ore, not tin, and it was copper that brought in the most money.
Cornish Mining is a heritage that is often heavily romanticised but its truth, and depth, is slowly being forgotten.
The circular stonework in carparks, the pits that are used for sermons, and the strange iron doors and barred tunnels that lead into hillsides are hints at something of a much grander scale.
Hidden before our very eyes is a vast heritage. The scale of hidden workings and the ingenuity of those that dug them are almost incomprehensible today, and it is a sad fact that our idolism focuses on the empty shells of decaying engine houses and ruins.
Beneath our feet lies a vast network of tunnels and deep voids where the bedrock has been removed for the precious minerals it harboured. In fact, some say that places like St Day or Redruth are hollow below the surface from the sheer magnitude of mining that was done.
We often think of mines as dark, dirty and dangerous places, and they can be all these things. But there is also a surprising beauty in the colours that line the tunnels and the rotting wood and metal. There are artefacts from times long since passed, and the occasional mineral crystal left behind.
And nature, which abhors a void, has started to grow within this space. From the encroaching fungus, to the iron loving bacteria that line the walls, there may be bats roosting, and, in some places even the occasional visit from an otter or fox.
Mining, in its finest moments, was at the forefront of the British Empire and the Industrial Revolution. There was incredible ingenuity, such as the steam engines that powered the pumps so that men could dig deeper than ever before. Technology was developed to new levels…but they leave a legacy of arsenic, lead and other heavy metals that continue to flow into our streams today.
Despite the common belief that the Cornish Mines are long gone, it is surprising to know that there are still Cornish Miners digging in Cornish Mines. Places like Rosevale keep this heritage alive. The embers of a once great flame.
Cornish mines are an incredible monument to the effort, and sometimes lives, of those who dug them. This book hopes to reveal what is hidden in plain sight.
Claire Wilson grew up in what was once one of the most heavily mined areas of Cornwall. She is a graduate from The University of Leicester where she read Geology and received a Bachelors in Science with Honours.
The Hidden in Plain Sight was an idea seeded when she began to return to her old haunts as a child. Places where she gathered minerals and explored the decaying ruins of this vast mining heritage. It was when she was taken down the mines themselves that this idea took roots, and working with someone with an equal passion has seen this project develop. For her, this is like going back full circle to where she began in her teenage years.
Claire has worked full time on her business "LLE-Photography" since 2015 and loves spending time working with the people and organisations in Cornwall. She provides a quality photography service. You can find more information about this here: LLE-Photography