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Balmaidens, forgotten Cornish-mining women 15 May 2006
During the 18th and 19th Centuries the area of Cornwall and North Devon was the world’s greatest producer of tin and copper. But in 1998 the last working Cornish mine, South Crofty in Redruth, closed down.

Now, crumbling engine houses and chimneys, looking picturesque against the sea and the wild Cornish coast, are the only reminder of that great mining history. But Cornish mining didn’t just involve men. Although few records have survived, 60,000 thousand women and girls, in one conservative estimate, worked above ground or “above grass” in the 200 year period 1720-1920.

There are no records at all before 1720 and the last woman was laid off in the 1920’s.  Lucy Frears went in search of the forgotten Cornish-mining women, the bal maidens.
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