World Famous Mining Heritage Safeguarded
On Monday 12 September, the National Trust will celebrate the completion of a ten-year project to secure the long-term future of one of the most important historic mining areas in the country, St Just in west Cornwall.
In 1992, the publication of 'St Just: an archaeological survey of the mining district' identified that the area's mining heritage was under threat. In commemoration of the Trust's centenary year in 1995, the Trust launched the St Just Coast Project to protect and restore the area through acquisition and conservation. Ten years on, the project has insured the survival of over 70 industrial sites consisting of an estimated 2,000 surviving shafts, thirteen surviving engine houses and two of Cornwall's best known mines, Botallack and Levant.
The Cornish mining industry made a key contribution to the evolution of an advanced industrial economy and society in Britain between 1700 and 1914. The St Just mining district was one of the richest and most important mining areas in Cornwall. As a result the area is one of the key sites in the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site Bid.
Mark Harold, National Trust Regional Director for Devon and Cornwall says: "The completion of the St Just Coast Project is a significant milestone in the ongoing conservation of Cornwall and West Devon's celebrated industrial landscape. The support of the local community and partners involved in the restoration project, have been key to its success. This celebration is an opportunity for us to say thank you everyone who has made this project possible, but also to highlight how working in partnership to protect our cultural heritage can regenerate the countryside and support local communities."
The St Just Coast Project could not have been achieved without securing significant funding and building firm partnerships with the local community and other organisations including Cornwall County Council, South West Regional Development Agency, English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Carleen Kelemen, Director of the Objective One partnership, says: "Mining is a huge part of Cornwall's great industrial heritage and to conserve this is essential. This investment will build on the community's pride as well as attract more visitors to the beautiful St Just area."
Nigel Sumpter, principal project officer for the St Just Heritage Area Regeneration Project says: "As part of the project, for the first time in its history the world's best preserved arsenic works, near the famous Crowns engine houses at Botallack, can be safely entered. Former miner Roger MacLean and his team were amongst a number of local contractors employed to take on important restoration and safety work as part of the project. They spent many months skilfully repairing and repointing the site after it had been decontaminated and reconstructed one complete pair of condensing chambers to help visitors understand the dangerous process that once went on. This is just one example of how heritage work in the area has both increased employment locally and helped to protect highly significant sites for enjoyment by future generations."
For further information please contact Sabina Eberle, National Trust Communications Officer, (Cornwall Office) on 01208 265225 or 07769 924067 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the St Just Area Regeneration Project through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Members of the media wishing to attend the event should respond to Sabina Eberle (see above). Celebrations involving the project partners begin at 11am with speeches at 12noon. Guided tours of the mining site are available to the public from approx. 12.15pm.
Key sites that have been protected and conserved between 1995 and 2005 include:
Kenidjack Valley and Cliffs: including the engine houses at West Wheal Owles, Wheal Edward and Wheal Drea, the Arsenic Works and tin processing features at Carn Praunter, and several mining and farming related structures at Kenidjack Hamlet. The project has also resulted in the eradication of a 'forest' of Japanese Knotweed which until recently infested the valley and obscured many of its archaeological remains.
Botallack Mine: including the famous Crown's Mine Engine Houses, Botallack Arsenic Works (which include the long flu or 'labyrinth' into which the arsenic settled and was subsequently collected) and Count House (now used as an interpretation centre and community resource), and numerous shafts. Another significant project was the undergrounding of over 1.5 km of overhead cables to enhance the landscape between Botallack Count House and Kenidjack Hamlet.
Levant Mine: including the Pumping Engine and Higher Bal Engine Houses, the Compressor House with it's huge and very distinctive chimney, and numerous important shafts including the Man-Engine Shaft, where 31 miners died in Cornwall's second worst mining accident (in 1919). The access tunnel from the Miner's Dry (changing room) to the Man-Engine Shaft has also been refurbished and is now open to the public; this after close consultation with the local community who regard the site as a memorial to the men who died there. Other significant sites addressed during the ten year project include: the stabilisation of numerous mining structures and shafts in Cot Valley, including Wheal Hermon (the first mine of any type in Britain to be referred to by name on a map – c.1560) where a shaft has been made safe and the mine's beach retaining wall consolidated; Cape Cornwall where several shafts have been made safe and the fisherman's slipway repaired; and Carn Gloose, Watchcroft and Rosewall Hill where many previously dangerous have also been made safe.
The world Heritage Site Bid was officially endorsed and signed by Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell on 24 January 2005 before being sent off to be assessed. The final decision will be made by the UNESCO's (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) Committee at its annual meeting in the summer of 2006.
The St Just District's mines were among the most productive in Cornwall for both tin and copper. Levant alone produced over 130,000 tonnes of copper between 1820 & 1927, putting it in the top ten Cornish sites in terms of output and wealth.
The St Just Mines also employed thousands of men, women and children. In the late 18thC there was only around 1000 people living in the St Just Parish, but by the mid 19thC mining boom this had risen to over 10,000, with Levant alone employing nearly 1000 people.
The St Just District was famous and practically unique for it's 'submarine mines', as at Botallack and Levant where miners worked just beneath the sea bed, often as much as one and a half miles from the shore. Stories abound of them hearing huge boulders rolling about just above their heads on stormy days.
Almost all of the minerals found anywhere in the world are represented in the St Just District, making it massively significant globally in geological terms, and explaining why it was such an important mining area.
Two of Cornwall's largest mining disasters occurred at sites addressed during the project: at Cargodna at Kenidjack and the Man-Engine Tunnel at Levant. Both projects were carried out in close and careful consultation with the members of local community, some of whom lost relatives in the disasters.
The Arsenic Works: arsenic commonly occurs with tin in the ground, and had to be separated from it and removed because it made the tin brittle and thus less valuable. From the mid 19th C this 'by-product' was collected and sold by the mines to boost its income. Its use included: a key ingredient for pesticides, primarily for the American Market where a boll weevil outbreak had been decimating cotton crops; as the means to create new colours for dyes and paints, as used by leading artists such as William Morris; and by the military to make their bullets more brittle.
The St Just District is one of the key areas within the World Heritage Site Bid. The WHS bid was officially endorsed and signed by Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell on 24 January 2005 before being sent off to be assessed. The final decision will be made by the UNESCO's (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) Committee at its annual meeting in the summer of 2006. For further information see www.world-mining.org.uk
'St Just: an archaeological survey of the mining district', was published by the Historic Environment Department of Cornwall County Council.
Funding: Grants totalling more than £5 million; National Trust Acquisition Costs totalling; £910,000 National Trust Works totalling around £1.5 million. Funders include Objective One, RDA, English Heritage, Penwith District Council, Cornwall County Council and others.
In the last three years, the Trust has been a partner in the St Just Regeneration Project, to consolidate some of the industrial sites in the area with the aim of improving the economic prosperity of St Just and the immediate area. The £3.9 million St. Just Heritage Area Regeneration Project aims to increase the economic prosperity of four geographically deprived parishes and their surrounding areas - St. Just, Morvah, Zennor and Towedenack. Work will provide forward-looking improvements and opportunities to enable the local community to increase and capitalise on the demand for goods and services in this unique area. The Objective One programme provides a 'once in a lifetime' opportunity to carry out works of this scale. The project will also safeguard the area's unique environment and provide the means to bring communities together the promote assets such as heritage, landscape, trails, flora and fauna, towns and communities, in an integrated approach to regeneration.
Central to the Trust's work has been the employment of local contractors and companies to ensure the maximum benefit of the project locally, and the consolidation of the sites using traditional materials and methods.
The National Trust worked closely with the local community on this project. A liaison group, consisting of local residents, representatives from local interest groups and mining experts, were consulted throughout the project.
The National Trust's work contributes much needed income to local economies across the country and has increasingly demonstrated the important link between a high quality environment and the future economic sustainability of communities. Our Valuing our Environment studies found that 40% of the jobs created through tourism rely directly on a high quality environment.
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