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THE RISE AND FALL OF THE TIN MINING INDUSTRY IN CORNWALL
Miners (Read the history of tin mining in Cornwall)
Go back in a time to when Cornwall was the tin mining centre of the world. Watch the decline and fall of the tin industry and read one man's recollections of life underground.
Miner (Read about how the mines closed following a decline in the price of tin) Tin mine (Read about the conditions miners faced) Tin miner (Read about the tin mining clips available for viewing)
FULL CLIP LIST

The History of Geevor - Once Upon a Mine (1986/colour/sound)
The decline of one of Cornwall's greatest tin mines - Geevor. (1 minute 55 seconds ©BBC)

Save Our Jobs - Once Upon a Mine (1986/colour/sound)
The last days of Geevor Tin Mine. (4 minutes 1 second ©BBC)

Last Day at Geevor - Once Upon a Mine (1986/colour/sound)
Tin miners leave Geevor for the last time as it closes down for good. (2 minutes 40 seconds ©BBC)

Mine Workers at Home - Once Upon a Mine (1986/colour/sound)
Tin miners talk about their hopes and fears for the future of the mining industry. (2 minutes 42 seconds ©BBC)

The Metal Exchange - Once Upon a Mine (1986/colour/sound)
Behind the scenes at the London Metal Exchange where the price of tin is set. (37 seconds ©BBC)

Viva Geevor - Once Upon a Mine (1986/colour/sound)
Join the tin miners' protest rally and brass bands as 500 men and their families march from Camborne and Redruth to save their jobs. (2 minutes 25 seconds ©BBC)

The End of Geevor - Once Upon A Mine (1986/colour/sound)
A skeleton staff maintains the closed tin mine in the hope that it will one day re-open. (1 minute 29 seconds ©BBC)

Eviction Notices - Once Upon a Mine (1986/colour/sound)
Hear how the tin miners at Geevor in Cornwall felt when they got eviction notices from their homes after they had been made redundant. (2 minutes 40 seconds ©BBC)

Boom to Bust - The Last Mine (1998/colour/sound)
A short film about the decline of the Cornish tin mining industry. Hear how South Crofty Mine was the last mine to close in the late 1990s due to the crash of tin prices and increasing foreign competition (1 minute 15 seconds ©BBC)

Cornish Mine - The Last Mine (1998/colour/sound)
Scenes of tin mining at a Cornish mine including hard rock drilling, shovelling rock and men working in amazing heat and humidity. Hear a miner talking about the future of Cornish mining. (2 minutes 1 seconds ©BBC)

The Last Shift - The Last Mine (1998/colour/sound)
After 3,000 years of tin mining, time has run out for the industry and the Cornish miners prepare for their last shift. Watch how the men dealt with this body blow to Cornwall's oldest industry." (2 minutes 54 seconds ©BBC)

Coming Up For the Last Time - The Last Mine (1998/colour/sound)
Cornish tin miners talk about the closure of the last deep tin mine in Europe at South Crofty. See the men coming up from the rock face for the last time. (2 minutes 54 seconds ©BBC)

Final Ascent - The Last Mine (1998/colour/sound)
The final ascent in the cage from the mine bottom to the surface as Cornish tin miners at South Crofty complete their last shift. Hear the redundant miners talk about their sadness at the closure of the mine. (2 minutes 39 seconds ©BBC)

Retired Tin Miner - The Tin Miner They Couldn't Kill (1972/colour/sound)
Former tin miner Leo Beskeen describes how tin mining is "in his blood" and describes how it was tough working down the mines for his generation of miners." (1 minute 16 seconds ©BBC)

Decline and Slump - The Tin Miner They Couldn't Kill (1972/colour/sound)
Former miner Leo Beskeen talks about mine closures and how the younger generation is losing interest in this traditional industry with its high risk of silicosis. (1 minute 58 seconds ©BBC)

Inside an Old Mine - The Tin Miner They Couldn't Kill (1972/colour/sound)
A former miner goes inside the engine room at an old Cornish tin mine. (1 minute 34 seconds ©BBC)

Mount Wellington Mine - The Tin Miner They Couldn't Kill (1972/colour/sound)
The processing of tin from Mount Wellington Mine in Cornwall. (1 minute 24 seconds ©BBC)

Miners and Safety - The Tin Miner They Couldn't Kill (1972/colour/sound)
Go back to the heyday of tin production and find out how contracted miners bought their own equipment and sometimes skimped on safety. (1 minute 22 seconds ©BBC)

Down the Mine - The Tin Miner They Couldn't Kill (1972/colour/sound)
Inside a working Cornish tin mine with miners Leo and John Beskeen including scenes of miners drilling - notice the lack of protective ear mufflers and rigorous safety protection. (3 minutes 23 seconds ©BBC)

Hard Times - The Tin Miner They Couldn't Kill (1972/b&w/sound)
The grim times faced by miners and the 'ups and downs' of the tin mining industry. (1 minute 3 seconds ©BBC)

Going Underground - "Horizon: Mines, Minerals and Men" (1974/colour/sound)
Cornwall was a major centre of tin mining, producing £2,000 million worth of tin over the centuries." (1 minute 50 seconds ©BBC)

Sorting Tin - "Horizon: Mines, Minerals and Men" (1974/colour/sound)
Geevor tin mine's 'grisly men' working at the hoisting station as rock is transported back to the surface ready to be processed into tin. (3 minutes 2 seconds ©BBC)

Lead Extraction - "Horizon: Mines, Minerals and Men" (1974/colour/sound)
Lead is extracted from the rocks as part of the tin mining process at a typical Cornish tin mine. (3 minutes 15 seconds ©BBC)

Crushing Rocks - "Horizon: Mines, Minerals and Men" (1974/colour/sound)
Scenes below ground at Mount Wellington tin mine - the rocks are crushed to extract tin, lead, fluorspar and other minerals." (1 minute 36 seconds ©BBC)

Miners Singing - Christmas Carols Underground (1963/b&w/silent)
Cornish tin miners sing hymns and carols underground. (3 minutes 13 seconds ©SWFTA/Dartington Collection)

A Tin Miner's Life - The Mathematics of the Mole (1962/b&w/sound)
Cornish tin miners talk about why they took up tin mining as a profession. Hear how mining was like being a part of the family with tremendous camaraderie between the men. (2 minutes 21 seconds ©BBC)

In Search of Tin - The Mathematics of the Mole (1962/b&w/sound)
Join the miners at the rock face in search of tin. Find out how miners often have to follow the lode for long distances to locate the rich deposits of tin. (2 minutes 32 seconds ©BBC)

Tin Mining History - The Mathematics of the Mole (1962/b&w/sound)
Go back in time to the earliest days of tin mining from the bronze age to the 1960s. Watch the powerful pumping engines in action at a typical Cornish tin mine. (1 minute 22 seconds ©BBC)

Industrialisation - The Mathematics of the Mole (1962/b&w/sound)
Men travelled down to the rock face in the early days of Cornish mining using ladders in the mid 1800s - these were later to be replaced with cages. (2 minutes 39 seconds ©BBC)

Bal Maidens at Work - The Mathematics of the Mole (1962/b&w/sound)
Women workers or "Bal Maidens" labour on the surface above the mine - this was back breaking work and involved breaking and sorting rocks." (35 seconds ©BBC)

Leaving Cornwall - The Mathematics of the Mole (1962/b&w/sound)
Some Cornish tin miners emigrated and sought work in mines aboard during times of slump. (2 minutes 30 seconds ©BBC)

Silicosis - The Mathematics of the Mole (1962/b&w/sound)
Hard rock drilling could cause harm to men's lungs leading to appalling diseases such as silicosis. (1 minute 50 seconds ©BBC)

Bringing the Lode Up - The Mathematics of the Mole (1962/b&w/sound)
Tin is brought up to the surface from a Cornish tin mine. Watch rocks being crushed, loaded into wagons and transported to the tin smelting plant. (1 minute 34 seconds ©BBC)

Mining For Tin - The Mathematics of the Mole (1962/b&w/sound)
Visit a new tin mine and see the miners working below ground. Hear miners talk about how tin mining was a "way of life" in Cornwall. (1 minute 1 seconds ©BBC)

History of the Mine - Yesterday's Witness: The Levant Mine Disaster (1969/colour/sound)
Discover the history of mining at Levant, and find out more about the hot, difficult and dangerous working conditions down the Cornish mine. Hear how one woman lost her husband in a terrible mining tragedy. (4 minutes 4 seconds ©BBC)

Life Underground - Yesterday's Witness: The Levant Mine Disaster (1969/colour/sound)
Miners talk about life at the mine and how disaster cost many miners their lives. (3 minutes 9 seconds ©BBC)

Old Cornish Tin Mines - Tin Mining Archive (b&w/sound)
Go back to the early years of the Cornish tin mines and hear tales of the first prospectors and miners at the height of the industry's boom. Find out how Cornwall once produced half the world's tin. (3 minutes 17 seconds ©BBC)

New Mine - Tin Mining Archive (b&w/sound)
The 1960s brought great hopes for improved prospects for tin mining with increased demand for tin alloys from the electronics industry. (1 minute 22 seconds ©BBC)

Mucking out - Tin Mining Archive (b&w/sound)
Go below ground at a tin mine and watch miners from Consolidated Goldfields working in appalling conditions 'mucking out' hundreds of tons of loose rock. (1 minute 23 seconds ©BBC)

Cornish Mining and Minerals - The Silent Valley (1960s/b&w/silent)
A look at the rocks that Cornish miners extracted including tin, copper and granite, and how Cornish mining engineers led the world." (1 minute 48 seconds ©BBC)

Bal Maidens - The Silent Valley (1960s/b&w/sound)
Women were employed crushing tin ore into smaller pieces for processing. (46 seconds ©BBC)

Miners at Work - The Silent Valley (1960s/b&w/sound)
A reconstruction of Cornish tin miners working underground in the 1860s. (4 minutes 21 seconds ©South West Film Archive)

Financing the Mining Industry - The Future of Mining (1960s/b&w/sound)
Mining companies were keen to encourage and finance new development to ensure the future of the tin industry in Cornwall. (3 minutes 35 seconds ©SWFTA/Dartington Collection)

Modern Mines - The Future of Mining (1960s/b&w/sound)
Cornwall's tin mines gear up for the future. Labour shortages were exacerbated by a lack of housing in mining towns. (3 minutes 35 seconds ©SWFTA/Dartington Collection)

Mining Development - The Future of Mining (1960s/b&w/sound)
The opening of three new tin mines in the Sixties when demand for tin soared. (1 minute 23 seconds ©SWFTA/Dartington Collection)

Tin Prospecting - The Future of Mining (1960s/b&w/sound)
An expert prospector complete with a 'revealler' rod designed to locate the centre of the tin lode. (2 minutes 43 seconds ©SWFTA/Dartington Collection)

The Champion of Cornish Mines - Levant Mine Memories (1960s/b&w/sound)
A film about the Levant Mine and hear one of the former tin miners describing what conditions were like for the men working underground. (1 minute 57 seconds ©BBC)

The Levant Mine Disaster - Levant Mine Memories (1960s/b&w/sound)
A former mine worker recalling one of the worst tin mining disasters in Cornwall. Thirty one men were killed in October 1919 at Levant Mine when an ageing mechanical ladder collapsed. (2 minutes 36 seconds ©BBC)

Working the Load - £5m Gamble (1967/b&w/silent)
A new spirit of optimism swept through the tin mining industry in the late 1960s. Go underground and watch tin miners working the lode at a typical Cornish tin mine. (26 seconds ©BBC)

Processing Tin Ore - £5m Gamble (1967/b&w/silent)
Mine workers processing tin ore during a period of relative prosperity in the Cornish tin mining industry. (1 minute 19 seconds ©BBC)

Bringing Up The Tin - £5m Gamble (1967/b&w/silent)
Tin miners at a Cornish mine bring up the tin from the mine and load the rocks into carts for sorting and washing by workers above ground. (1 minute 51 seconds ©BBC)

Crushing and Loading - Miners at Work (1960s/b&w/silent)
Tin miners at work crushing and loading the rock containing the tin ore. (1 minute 43 seconds ©BBC)

History of Cornish Mining - Roots of England (1981/colour/sound)
Retrace the history of Cornish tin mining around St just through periods of boom and bust. Find out how Cornish mining was at the mercy of foreign competition and fluctuating tin prices. (2 minutes 47 seconds ©BBC)

The Work Face - Roots of England (1981/colour/sound)
Join the tin workers at the work face labouring in cramped conditions. This is an example of a modernised mine which had benefited from £1 million in new developments. (1 minute 22 seconds ©BBC)

A Tour of the Mine - South Crofty (1930s/b&w/silent)
Miners at work below ground and above where they are collecting arsenic. Miners relaxing at local donkey races after work. (2 minutes 58 seconds ©SWFTA/Dartington Collection)

St Just - Decline of a Mining Town (1930s/b&w/silent)
The tin mining town of St Just sees its population shrivel following the closure of local mines. (3 minutes 3 seconds ©SWFTA/Dartington Collection)

Going Underground - Life at the Tin Mine (1930s/b&w/silent)
Men in cages travelling down to the mine shaft. Loading and crushing tin ore on the surface. (47 seconds ©SWFTA/Dartington Collection)

Tin Panning - Streaming For Tin (b&w/silent)
Streaming for tin in Cornwall as miners have done for over a 1,000 years. (1 minute 2 seconds ©BBC)

The Tin Industry - Tin Decontrolled (1949/b&w/sound)
The story of how tin mines were flourishing in the late 1940s. A free market was about to be re-established and tin prices were on the rise. Watch men working in the modern washing plant. (1 minute 6 seconds ©BBC)

Farmer Re-opens Tin Mine - Cornish Farmer Turns Tin Miner (1949/b&w/sound)
Rex Tremlett is reworking an old mine on his farm near St Austell in Cornwall. After the farm work is done, the workers load tailings onto farm tractors and collect tin from the slurry." (3 minutes 27 seconds ©BBC)

Environmental Disaster - Muddy Water (1992/colour/sound)
The circumstances that led to 10 million gallons of polluted water contaminating Cornwall's water supply. (1 minute 23 seconds ©BBC)

The Most Toxic River in Europe - Muddy Water (1992/colour/sound)
The effects of tin mining on Cornwall's environment. (58 seconds ©BBC)

Below Ground - Muddy Water (1992/colour/sound)
Underground at South Crofty. The reopening of old tin workings in the 1960s thanks to a growth in demand for tin. (2 minutes 26 seconds ©BBC)

Mining Pollution - Muddy Water (1992/colour/sound)
The effects of the 1992 ecological disaster when polluted mine water entered Cornwall's rivers and streams. (1 minute 8 seconds ©BBC)

Wrestling - Cornish Wrastling (1960s/b&w/sound)
Join the miners on a rare day out to see Cornish 'wrastling' with champion fighter Francis Gregory, "the champion who rarely smiles"." (44 seconds ©SWFTA/Dartington Collection)

 



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