World Heritage Sites: 5 facts about East Pool Mine
World Heritage Sites. In Cornwall?? Day 4
It was one of those days again where myself and Ash decided to chill out for the first part of the day. However, restlessness got the best of us and we eventually crawled out of the apartment. I wasn’t sure where we could go this time. But Ash had been constantly highlighting that we should drive up to Redruth to visit an old mine called East Pool. So off we went.
After I tapped in the postcode on the SatNav, we set off through the beautiful Cornish landscape on our way to Redruth. Now Redruth is typical of a Cornish mining town. Driving through I could see glimpses of the past wealth and glories of the town. At the same time I could see signs of degradation all too-well associated with former mining towns across the UK. Despite this, Redruth still has a certain Cornish charm about it.
Where’s the mine?
Less charming was being directed to the back of a Morrison’s car park (for my non-British readers, Morrison’s is a UK supermarket chain). I asked Ash in a confused manner, that the mine couldn’t be here. Surely not at the back of a supermarket car park. Google Maps must have been wrong! But no, we’d come to the right place. To the back of the car park was a small, unassuming brown sign low on the ground directing us to East Pool Mine. We walked towards a screen of trees, and as we approached the opening in between, all was revealed….
Long before East Pool Mine became one of the many World Heritage Sites, the mine was first worked on in the 18th century. It remained in operation until 1945. What was left of the mine has now been turned into a heritage discovery centre.
The flow in which it has been set out is great. First we were led into a cinema which documents the history of Cornish mining, and of life working in the mine. Then worked our way towards a section with interactive pulley displays and clothes props, and finally followed a path which leads under a chimney stack. Up until this point, it feels a little too quick, especially if you don’t fully immerse yourself in the exhibits. However, we ended up outside where we were able to access and explore Taylor’s Engine House which contains one of the world’s largest surviving Cornish beam engines.
5 facts about East Pool Mine
There were a lot of interesting things to learn about East Pool Mine, especially about the Cornish beam engine. But I don’t want to be too technical. And frankly, I think that would bore you if i was to go into the fine details. but there are 5 things that I would like to share that could be interesting to you…
1. The mine was very productive
The mine had a long operational life, opening in the early 18th century until the end of the Second World War. Throughout this time, almost 92,000 tons of copper ore and 47,000 tons of tin ore were raised.
2. East Pool Mine is a World Heritage Site
No shit. But in all seriousness, I remember as a child going down to Cornwall on a school trip to visit an old tin mine. There were two things i could remember from this. The glittering tin ore as I went deeper underground. Second, the tin mining is or was a big thing in Cornwall.
The East Pool Mine is very much a very important part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site, of which Wheal Coates is also a part of. Why? The rapid growth in copper and tin mining in this part of the world resulted in a significant contribution to the Industrial Revolution in Britain as well as the mining industry globally. The technology developed in these parts such as engines, engine houses and mining equipment was exported around the world. And East Pool Mine is living testimony to this. It was this technology that helped the industry in Cornwall dominate globally in the nineteenth century.
3. East Pool Mine helped win the Second World War
Think of holding a lump of iron almost the size of your fist. Drop it on your foot. Hurts doesn’t it? Now imagine the same piece of iron that’s three or four times heavier. Drop it again on your foot. You just dropped a very heavy metal called tungsten. Because of it’s density and reputation as a very hard metal, it became a very valuable commodity in the production of weapons such as bullets and missiles during the Second World War.
4. Working here was an occupational hazard
As with any mine in Cornwall in the 19th and 20th centuries, if you worked here, you’d be toiling in some very harsh conditions. And very often for little pay. But compared with farming and fishing, this would have been a better-paid alternative for you. Especially if you had a family to feed. For instance, the air quality would have been so poor to the point of filthiness, with the constant mining dust particles in the air. Accidents were common, although not on a large scale. To give you some context, there was a mining accident in a nearby mine where 7 men were crushed to death after a number of timber supports gave way.
In fact in 1921, the main shaft of the mine was destroyed by underground rockfall and caused flooding. No-one died in the incident, but it just goes to shows the perils and dangers you could face as a miner at East Pool. I’m not sure if I’d be brave enough to have that thought hanging over me.
5. East Pool Mine helped fuel an empire
Cornwall’s tin and copper has attracted interest for centuries. It has been suggested as one of the reasons the Romans came to Britain. But the mining industry really took off during the Industrial Revolution in Britain when demand for valuable metals in industrial production skyrocketed. During this time, the mining industry in Cornwall was said to have employed 25% of men in the county.
Visiting East Pool Mine
World Heritage Sites such as East Pool Mine can be a challenge to get to. Myself and Ash came here by car, and is by far the most convenient way of getting here. If you’re driving, I recommend you take the A30 towards Camborne if you’re travelling south. Once off the A30 there are signs directing you to the mine on the A3047. You’ll find the mine at the back of Morrison’s car park. The good thing about this is the parking is free.
If you’re going to take the next easiest mode of transport, i would recommend the train. Take the train to either Camborne or Redruth train stations. From there, you can either take a bus service which stops nearby Morrison’s. Or you could take a taxi.
The great thing about coming to this historic site is that because it’s next to a supermarket, parking is free, and you could potentially park there all day. The only costs are admission which start from just over £3.50 for children up to around £18.00 for a family of four. Like I’m always saying with National Trust properties, it pays to get National Trust membership. Join now – membership can cost as little as £5.75 a month! Once you pay for the year, admission is free to every National Trust property.
I found that East Pool Mine is much smaller than Wheal Coates to roam around in. It is also set in less beautiful surroundings compared with its North Cornish counterpart. But it easily makes up for that through its educational and heritage centre. This is where East Pool Mine provides its true value. It is at East Pool Mine that I found out the true contribution of Cornish mining, not only to the UK, but also the world. Watching the archive films and exploring the engine house has demonstrated to me that not only Cornish mining techniques and technology were exported successfully, but also the Cornish people themselves made significant contributions to society in many parts of the world. World Heritage Sites probably don’t get much better than this.