Cornwall played a major role in the mining industry, and it’s this fascinating era that helped shape the region’s stunning landscape into what you see today. In the 19th century, Cornwall became the world’s leading supplier of copper, then by 1860, tin took over as the region’s most important metal export. Over the years, the area also played a key role in the worldwide spread of hard-rock mining and steam-engine technology.
You can still see the remains of the region’s mining heritage today, as you delve below the surface and explore some of Cornwall’s exciting tourist attractions. Step back in time and learn all about this fascinating industry, as well as how miners would have once worked many years ago. Here are just a few attractions that make up the incredible Cornish Mining World Heritage Site that you can visit on your next holiday in Cornwall.
Geevor Tin Mine Museum
Located right on the edge of the UK in the south of Cornwall, under an hour from Mullion Holiday Park, is Geevor Tin Mine Museum, the largest preserved mine site in Britain. Whatever the weather, there’s so much to see and do at this award-winning family attraction. Head underground and explore this 20th century tin mine, that once played a major role in the industry.
On a visit, learn what life was like for Cornish miners many years ago. There are underground tours, exhibitions, interactive displays and plenty of fun and games for the children. Step inside the eerie, fascinating mine, and see the helmets and boots in the changing rooms, newspapers and teacups sitting on tables as well as messages left written in chalk on the walls. There’s the Hard Rock Museum, telling the tale of Cornish Tin and Copper mining, as well as a range of magnificent machinery that has been on display since the site was abandoned in 1990.
Once back outside, look down the Victory Shaft, and imagine a group of miners working nearly 500 metres below ground. Kids will love the games and activities around the mining site, in particular, the Mineral Panning. Have a go at this traditional method of searching for valuable metals, taking home anything you can find! Finish your visit at the Count House Café, where you can sit back, relax and enjoy the stunning coastal views.
If you’re looking for a fun-filled day out packed with adventure and education, then a trip to Wheal Martyn is a must. Under 45 minutes from both Looe Bay Holiday Park and St Minver Holiday Park, Wheal Martyn is the world’s only attraction celebrating the region’s china clay mining industry, and there really is something for everyone on a visit – even the dog!
Discover all things clay and uncover the stories behind this billion-pound industry. Kids and adults alike will love the vintage trucks, as well as the interactive centre, where you can learn all about the china clay industry – past, present and future. There’s dressing up, a drawing area, interactive exhibits and video footage of a virtual tour in a working clay pit. As well as learning all about how clay was once used, you’ll also find out about how clay is the magical ingredient in many everyday products today, including rubber, paper and even toothpaste! To keep the children entertained, there are a variety of trails and quizzes for different ages along the way, including the popular Wheal Martyn Teddy Bear Hunt.
The grounds of Wheal Martyn are also worth exploring too. From the Nature Trail to the Historic Trail, there are a range of wonderful routes from the site just waiting to be explored. If you do head off on a woodland walk, look out for one of the best views around, known as ‘Pit View’. At the highest point of the site you’ll uncover a viewing area, where you can admire the Wheal Martyn china clay pit that still runs today.
About 45 minutes from both White Acres Holiday Park and Newquay Holiday Park, Poldark Mine is one of the most historic tin mining locations in Cornwall. Seen by millions on the popular BBC drama Poldark, visitors come from all over the world to explore the caverns of this 18th century mine.
Poldark Mine is the only complete underground mine open to the public in Cornwall, meaning it’s not to be missed on a holiday to this beautiful region. From guided tours to museums filled with equipment, there’s something for the whole family. Pop on a hard hat and head 100 feet underground through the winding, narrow passages, and listen to your tour guide tell you all about its history. Whilst you’re down there, look out for the only underground post box in the UK!
Scattered around the site you’ll see a number of machines, including engines originally used to pump water from the mine and a large working water wheel. As well as the attraction itself, the mine is set in four acres of beautiful woodland and is just six miles from the coast. This means that there are plenty of fantastic family walks to enjoy nearby after you’ve delved deep into the mine.
Come rain or shine, a trip to Carnglaze Caverns is a must. Under 25 minutes from Looe Bay Holiday Park, take a tour of this former slate mine, where this vital material was once mined and quarried from underground. As Cornwall’s only slate mine, it played an important role in the mining history of the region and is now part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site.
Once inside and around 60 meters underground, you’ll find three magical man-made caves, which have a consistent temperature of 10 degrees, making it the perfect activity all year round. Along your self-guided tour, information points will tell you all about how the miners once worked, and you can learn the history behind how slate helped the Industrial Revolution. Towards the end of the tour, you’ll see what makes these caverns so special; the crystal-clear waters of the spectacular underground lake. Some people find this place so romantic, they even choose to get married here! Carnglaze is also home to five different species of bats, so keep your eyes peeled on a visit.
Above ground, there are plenty of wonderful walks to explore too. Wander along the zig-zag paths, admiring the wildflowers and woodland along the way. If you’re a wildlife lover, then you’re in luck, as many of the walking trails are home to a variety of amazing creatures. From deer and foxes to butterflies and birds of prey, you’ll be surrounded by incredible views and wonderful wildlife at every turn.