A Cornish colony in Mexico

In 1826 the West Briton carried a report from Redruth: a miner recently back from overseas had  ‘astonished the natives by appearing in the streets in the dress usually worn by the Mexican miners.’ The migration links between Cornwall and Mexico in the 1800s have been less often covered than the much more numerous flows … Continue reading A Cornish colony in Mexico

From merchanting to gardening: the Williams dynasty of Caerhays

The history of the Williams family of Caerhays in mid-Cornwall and Scorrier, Burncoose and Tregullow near Redruth is the story of Cornwall writ small. Emerging from obscurity in the later 1600s in the country between Redruth and Penryn, the family became Cornwall’s most successful mine managers and investors during the 1700s. It was John Williams … Continue reading From merchanting to gardening: the Williams dynasty of Caerhays

West Wheal Seton: a working mine of the 1870s

West Wheal Seton mine in 1877 West Wheal Seton was one of a number of mines around Camborne that were struggling to survive the mining depression of the 1870s. One after another, neighbouring mines were falling victim to low metal prices and their engines ceasing to pump. As a result, West Wheal Seton had almost … Continue reading West Wheal Seton: a working mine of the 1870s

An idiot’s guide to the life and death of Richard Trevithick

Books have been written about him, poems dedicated to him, statues erected in his honour, plaques affixed to significant buildings and locations in his life, university libraries named after him. He even has his own festival. It’s time this blog offered its own stripped-down guide to the life of Richard Trevithick as this month sees … Continue reading An idiot’s guide to the life and death of Richard Trevithick

Of blowing houses and tin smelters

If you wander through the highways and byways of Cornwall you may well come across the name Blowing House. Where does this come from? In former times ‘houses’ were built to smelt tin, transforming tin ore, or ‘black tin’, containing other chemical elements such as oxygen or sulphur, into purer ‘white tin’. Stannary law stated … Continue reading Of blowing houses and tin smelters