“Cornish lads are fishermen and Cornish lads are miners too, but when the fish and tin are gone, what are the Cornish boys to do?”
This ‘graffiti’ was written along the exterior wall of South Crofty not long after it closed down in 1998. South Crofty was one of Cornwall’s oldest and largest mines which opened in the 1590’s. For several decades, up until 1860s copper was the only ore mined at South Crofty in shallow workings (down to approx 80 metres) The mine was dependent on copper until its reserves were exhausted and in 1873 after much financial investment in new machinery the mine was operating significantly deeper (approx 480 metres) where only tin was found.
Mining provided a great deal of employment in Cornwall and South Crofty in particular was the main employer for many men in the Camborne and Redruth area. Sadly with tin being imported at a cheaper price than UK mines could supply the tin many mines closed down around the county and South Crofty was the last to close in 1998.
As a student I managed to get into the mine shortly before it closed down and took some pictures both underground and on the surface. I would have been one of the last non workers to have gone underground and for this I was very grateful of the experience. I have some more images I will share at a later date on the miners but for now please enjoy this gritty black ane white.
On a positive note South Crofty became operational again in 2007 with plans to extract further tin, copper and zinc.
To read more about the company who made South Crofty a viable mine again please click here.