Cornwall Life takes it's time in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle

PUBLISHED: 15:31 24 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:47 20 February 2013

Cornwall Life takes it's time in Camborne,  Redruth and Hayle

Cornwall Life takes it's time in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle

This area of Cornwall's important mining heritage should be explored on any visit. It has also undergone recent regeneration and is thriving, writes Lesley Double

This area of Cornwalls important mining heritage should be explored on any visit. It has also undergone recent regeneration and is thriving, writes Lesley Double

Standing on the top of Carn Brea, admiring the panorama, it is clear to see the changes that have taken place to Camborne, Redruth and area over the centuries. At the beginning of the 19th century, Camborne was a hamlet and Redruth was a small town, both of which were set on the land between Carn Brea and the coast, which was liberally scattered with settlements. Then came the mining boom. Very quickly it became one of the richest mining areas in the world and, as a consequence, large fashionable houses sprung up, as well as rows of miners cottages, schools and churches. As the two towns spread out, they gathered up smaller hamlets on the way. Today, from Carn Brea, it is difficult to see where Camborne ends and Redruth begins. The towns now include the once smaller settlements of Treswithian, Beacon and Treleigh, which have become areas or suburbs of this larger conurbation. The boundary between Camborne and Redruth is at Tuckingmill and Pool.

Carn Brea itself has a long and fascinating history, beginning with Neolithic farmers and Iron Age miners, and evidence suggests it was visited by smugglers and missionaries. Carn Brea Castle was originally a 14th-century chapel, before being rebuilt in the 18th century and used as a hunting lodge. It is now a restaurant. Close by, the Basset Monument stands as testament to mine owner Frances Basset, 1st Baron De Dunstanville and Basset. The 30m high Celtic cross, which is a focal point and can be seen for miles around, was erected after Bassets death in 1835, thanks to public subscription.

Back down in Camborne and Redruth, it is difficult to go anywhere without coming across evidence of the areas exciting history. Two hundred years ago, miners, entrepreneurs and scientists flocked here, eager to both earn and spend their money or use their expertise. Many mining-related industries sprung up too, such as the mining equipment company Holman Bros. Founded in 1801, Holman was once one of the largest manufacturers of mining equipment in the UK. In the 1820s, the Camborne School of Mines was launched, although it has now transferred to Tremough Campus in Falmouth.

Europes last working tin mine, South Crofty, situated at Pool, sadly closed in March 1998. Mining had taken place here since the 16th century, and work is currently underway to try and bring mining back to South Crofty. In the meantime, groups of mining students are able to explore the workings, bringing lessons learned in the classroom to life.

Redruth is the English form of the Cornish Resrudh or Rhyd-ruth, which means red river.

Redruth is the English form of the Cornish Resrudh or Rhyd-ruth, which means red river. The name is thought to come from the river, which ran red with iron oxide from mining activity in the area. In the 18th century, copper ore, which had originally been discarded by miners as of no use, was suddenly in demand for making brass. Brass was an important component for the industrial revolution, and Redruth blossomed with this new opportunity.

With the loss of the tin and copper mining industries, the 1980s and 1990s were not a good time for Redruth, but the inhabitants were still proud of their heritage, and this can still be seen in all manner of ways. For example, the pedestrianised Fore Street holds a bronze statue of a miner, which was commissioned because the town didnt feel its history was properly recognised, and the last tin stream works in Cornwall is situated alongside the Redruth Old Cornwall Society Museum at Tolgus Tin. A multi-million pound regeneration scheme has turned many derelict areas into smart and vital districts, ready for the 21st century.

Two of Camborne and Redruths most famous old boys are fted each year, with a day for each of them. Both days are full of parades, exhibitions and all things that keep the memory of these eminent scientists alive. Camborne engineer Richard Trevithick was born in 1771 and is remembered every April during Trevithick Day for his steam-powered road locomotive, the Puffing Devil, the worlds first self-propelled passenger-carrying vehicle. He is further remembered by the song Going Up Camborne Hill, Coming Down, which recalls Puffing Devils journey, and by the fine statue that stands outside Camborne Library. Although not Cornish, William Murdoch lived in Redruth for 16 years, at the end of the 18th century, where he made a name for himself by having the first house in the world to be lit by gas. The Old Cornwall Society now uses Murdochs house as a base, and the skills of this Scottish engineer are celebrated in June on Murdoch Day.

To allow for easier transportation between the mines and the coast, a railway line was laid between Redruth and Hayle in 1838. Five years later, the line that had previously just carried goods was allowed to carry passengers. This proved so popular that over the next ten years the line was extended west to Penzance and east to Truro. It isnt difficult to see why the miners and their families should want to visit Hayle in such numbers; the sight of three miles of golden sand would be a real tonic to them. As with Camborne and Redruth, Hayle embraces its industrial history with areas called Foundry and Copperhouse, named after two of Cornwalls largest foundries Copperhouse Foundry and Harveys Foundry. It was thanks to these two foundries that Hayle prospered and grew in the 19th century.

Hayle (heyl is the Cornish word for estuary) sits at the southernmost point of St Ives Bay, where the River Hayle enters the sea. There are quays and harbours and a shallow estuary that is a magnet for sea and wading birds of all kinds, which attracts birdwatchers form near and far.

A new bypass has rencently been built in the busy town and there are several places to stop, parks for the children, walks along the riverbank, and lanes that lead over the river to the towans or sand dunes. This is a very popular holiday retreat, especially for families who are attracted to the long stretches of beach, where you can walk from your caravan or tent to the sea in minutes.

Tell us about your favourite Cornish towns in the comments box at the bottom of this feature.

Nearby Attractions

Paradise Park at Hayle is home to hundreds of birds of all different species. It is the base for the World Parrot Trust and has worked to help reintroduce the Cornish chough to the wild.

To the north of Hayle and Gwithian are beaches where one can see Godrevy Lighthouse, made famous by Virginia Woolfs novel To the Lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1859 and is now solar powered.

Godolphin House and Gardens is a Tudor and Stuart Grade I Listed mansion, with Elizabethan stables, formal gardens, orchards and a bluebell wood, situated south-west of Camborne.

Covering 250 acres to the north of Pool, Tehidy Country Park is full of woodland walks, several lakes, picnic areas and a caf.

Theres an Angling and Watersports centre at Stithians Lake, just south-east of Redruth, where you can sail, windsurf, canoe, fly-fish for trout, or just have a peaceful walk or cycle around the lake trail.

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