History of Cornish Tin Mining The tin mining industry in Cornwall began over 2,500 years ago, and references to merchants trading with Cornish tinners are found amongst the most ancient writings of Greek and Roman geographers. The rare and valuable tin produced in Cornwall was taken all over the known world.

These pioneering Cornishmen streamed the valleys and mined the veins visible in cliffs and hillsides. Throughout medieval times, the "tinners" were regarded as special people. Charters granted by King John and Edward III gave them unique rights and privileges.

Cornishmen are justly proud of their mining heritage which, at its peak between 1750 and 1850, firmly established Cornwall as the centre of the hard rock mining world. Apart from supplying most of the world's tin and copper, Cornwall's vast experience in hard rock mining developed unique skills among its miners which were later put to work in mines throughout the world. Landowners, mineral lords and speculators made vast fortunes.

With the arrival of steam power in the 18th Century, Cornish mining engineers pioneered and developed the massive beam engines which have helped the mines to operate at ever-greater depths. Working in majestic granite engine houses, the remains of which dominate much of the Cornish countryside today, they could either pump water and raise ore and men from mines, or provide power and water for the crushing stamps and ore dressing floors at the surface on which thousands of Cornish men, women and children worked.

The decline of the industry in the mid 19th Century resulted in thousands of Cornish miners taking their families and their skills overseas to the developing mining areas of Australia, the Americas and South Africa. It is still said that wherever there is a mine you will probably find a Cornishman at the bottom of it!

The South Crofty Mine

South Crofty mine had seen continual working for tin and copper since medieval times, with reference to mining in the area as early as 1592. An unbroken record of mining activity has been kept since 1670.

During the 1820s, the mine, then known as East Wheal Crofty, produced copper, was the premier mine in the district. Unfortunately, this didn’t last and parts of the property were up for sale in the 1860s. Following this, the remainder of the mine was renamed South Wheal Crofty. Subsequently split into smaller units, the South Wheal Crofty section was eventually to become the largest Cornish mine in history.

By the end of the 1870s, tin had once again become the focus of the persistent and skilful search by Cornish miners deep underground.

From a tiny operation about 100 feet long, less than 100 feet deep and working a single main lode during the reign of Elizabeth I, South Crofty Mine grew to almost 2½ miles long, 3000 feet deep and has mined over 40 different lodes. South Crofty produced more ore than any other Cornish mine.

Despite the benefits of modern technology and the unrivalled mining skills of its workforce, extraction methods at South Crofty remained remarkably similar to those used by previous generations of Crofty miners and, up until its closure, were still physically demanding and labour intensive.

The End of an Era

All tin mining in Cornwall has now ceased - for the time being at least. South Crofty tin mine was the last mine to close, and it ended production in 1998.

The tin, which is used to manufacture the South Crofty Collection, was extracted from the South Crofty mine in the weeks prior to its closure. The tin has been stockpiled solely for the purpose of producing jewellery and gifts so that people can buy a small piece of Cornish heritage and own a special piece of Cornwall. But there is a limited supply, and one day it will run out, meaning our customers will own a part of Cornwall’s mining history which is no longer available!