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Portscatho Holidays Blog - Days out in Cornwall: Mining Heritage

Days out in Cornwall: Mining Heritage

Posted 15 February 2019 by Beverley Fuller

Visitors to Cornwall are bound to come across the county's mining heritage. Whether you visit one of the larger sites or pass old wheelhouses as you walk or drive across Bodmin Moor, or see how ports such as Port Gaverne or Charlestown once handled vast exports of tin, slate and china clay, there's a fascinating history to be found.

Delabole slate quarry near Camelford, an easy day out by car from your South Cornwall holiday cottage, is historic but also very much a working quarry. Regular short tours and presentations are run from May through August; for longer tours or at other times of year you can phone to book.

Delabole slate has been quarried since the 17th century and used in building for over 800 years, and at more than 1.5 miles in circumference and over 400ft deep the quarry is truly impressive. Once it took 100 horses to pull the wagons to load a ship with slate at nearby Port Gaverne – you won't see that now, but it's a very impressive place to visit (and some lovely souvenirs are available in the shop; an elegant Delabole slate cat has graced my hearth for many years!).

Cross Bodmin Moor and you're sure to see a few eerie, tumbledown wheelhouses with an atmosphere all their own. Some have been restored, though, and one nearby is Wheal Martin, part of the UK's largest World Heritage Site that represents Cornwall's iconic mining culture and includes more than 200 engine houses and many types of visitor experience. Wheal Martin represents the important china clay industry, while tin mining is represented by the 18th century Poldark Mine & the Cornish Heritage Collection at Helston, the only complete tin mine in Cornwall where you can take an underground tour (guided of course, and you do need to be fairly able-bodied – please check before you go). There's even an evening ghost tour, which is highly atmospheric!

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