Holman Mining Machinery

Holman Mining Machinery

Alongside the mining industry there evolved an industry manufacturing specialised mining equipment. The firms founder Nicholas Holman started a boiler works in 1801

Rock Drills

1881-The brothers John Henry and James Miners Holman, had taken over running the business from their father John. They were offered the designs of a new rock drill by a James McCulloch. the brothers filed a joint patent with McCulloch, and began to manufacture the new drill. It became known as the Cornish Rock Drill, and achieved great commercial success.

1882-The rock drill was at work at Dolcoath, Tincroft, East Pool, South Crofty, at Falmouth Docks and in mines in South Wales.The demand grew rapidly.

1896-More than 1,000 Cornish rock drills were in use on The South African Rand alone. By the turn of the century the number had doubled. Most of these drills came from Holman in Camborne.

1910-The company took first and third prizes in a World Rock Drilling Contest, sponsored by the South African Chamber of Commerce. The Holman Silver 303 Airleg was used all over the world for mine development.


Holman began to manufacture compressors. The first "Cornish" compressors were built to designs adapted from existing steam engines.

1894-Holman manufactured the largest compressor plant ever used in Cornwall. Installed at Carn Brea Mine.

1959-Holman introduced the Rotair, Britain's first single stage oil flooded rotary screw compressor.

1964-Launched Britains first range of portable compressors.

1968-A merger took place with Broom and Wade to form CompAir- the International Compressed Air Corporation Ltd.

By May 2003 "Portable Compressor manufacturer CompAir, which employs 184 people in West Cornwall, announced earlier this month that increasing international competition meant it was intending to close its Camborne operation by September. It has begun a 90-day consultation period with staff. "

Holman Cornish Engineering - By Clive Carter

Our Work During the Great War - 1914-1918: Holman Bros. Ltd., Camborne, England Holman Bros (Editor)

Mines and Mining in Cornwall