Redruth, Cornwall

redruth cornwall towns

Redruth, together with its neighbour Camborne, was the centre of the Cornish Tin mining industry. Hence today the whole area round Redruth is covered with old mine workings and buildings.

Redruth itself has a range of architecture from Georgian to Victorian and Art Deco. There is a large granite railway viaduct in the lower part of the town, and one can follow the tree lined Trewirgie Road to the old churchtown. The Georgian church of St Euny, has a 15th century tower, and is notable for its long lych gate, which allowed for many coffins to rest there after major mining accidents.

Behind Druid's Hall is the first house ever to be lit by gas, the Scottish inventor William Murdoch, who set up his own gas retorts in 1792.

To the south is Carn Brea Hill, 748 feet high which has a complete cross section of history. There are Neolithic hut circles, an Iron Age fort, a small castle that was used in Elizabethan times as a hunting lodge (it had been converted into a restaurant but when we were there, the restaurant looked to have been closed for some time!), an obelisk built in 1836 in memory of Francis Bassett.

Redruth, a local history

The official Redruth, Cornwall web site is not particularly informative and typical of uninteresting local authority sites that litter the web, one would have thought that they could at least have given the history of their town..

A charter for markets and fairs was granted in 1324, and the Stannary Courts were sometimes held here in the later

By the Middle Ages mining was well established. Tin was obtained from streams, and in veins in the granite. Around 1300 tin streamers were working along the small river that runs here. The iron oxide from the workings coloured the water red. The red water in turn gave its name to the ford from which the town gets its Cornish name (rhyd = ford, ruth = red). Copper ore (which had been discarded as waste by the earlier tinners) became valuable from the late 17th century. It was used to make brass, a much used metal in Industrial Revolution machines. Deep copper mines from the 1730s made Redruth the centre of the richest metal mining area in Britain. By the 1850s, two-thirds of the world's copper came from Cornwall.

Copper mining was much more labour intensive then tin mining. The population of Redruth and the surrounding area boomed. Working conditions in the mines were dire and the average life expectancy of a miner was under forty. Women worked on the surface handling the ore, and children started work as young as eight. The decline of Cornish mining began in the 1860s when New World copper and tin could be mined much more economically. By 1880 two-thirds of Cornish copper miners had emigrated to the overseas mines, and tin mining ceased about 30 years after this.Ironically the Redruth Mining Exchange opened in 1880.

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