Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Crowns at Botallack, sketches of the ruins of old tin mines on the cliffs in Cornwall, and blue blue seas

Sketch of The Crowns, Botallack, Cornwall, engine houses of the old tin mines, and a blue blue sea. Moleskine sketchbook. Coloured pencil. Vivien Blackburn

Around St Just and along the coast are dozens of ruins of old tin mines. These sketches are of the mine at Botallack. Nearby is a mining museum at Geevor, where you can see how the mining was done, how the tin was separated from the ore along with arsenic and other elements and you can go down a short section of mine and learn about working conditions and life expectancy, which was 28.

Spoil was burnt in kilns and other elements extracted, including arsenic which settled on the inside of the chimneys. This was scraped off and bagged for sale by young children. The whole area around the mine was polluted by the mining and is only now recovering.

Note the 2 engine houses low down on the cliff face in the distance in both sketches - and imagine walking down a slippery, narrow path in a gale to get to work there (steep drop to one side and steep rise up on the other) - then go deep underground, sometimes by ladders, and then walk 2 miles under the sea to get to the working face. Some tunnels were only 6 feet below the sea floor and miners could hear the boulders above rolling and grating during a storm.



The Crowns, Botallack, Cornwall, engine houses of the old tin mines, and a blue blue sea. Moleskine sketchbook. Coloured pencil. Vivien Blackburn

In the mining museum were some beautiful crystals and colourful stones including amethyst. I bought a necklace of a heart made from some beautiful turquoise coloured stone with veins of other colour running through - the colour of the sea :>)

Tina you have to get to Cornwall soon!

I'm glad I live now, aren't you?

5 comments:

Nicole Caulfield said...

Isure am happy I live now!

Great sketches - and thanks for the background info!

vivien said...

Hi Nicole :>) - thanks.

Charlene Brown said...

I'm sure the miners who could "hear the boulders above rolling and grating during a storm" never noticed the astounding beauty of the place from one awful year to the next. You have captured it perfectly!

dinahmow said...

Names like Tregoweth, Penberthy, Treganza, Pollack, et cetera show up in many 'phone books on this side of the world.Such was the fame of Cornish miners.

vivien said...

No, you are probably right Charlene. And if you looked at the link to photos of the 'Great Storm' last year and the height of the waves it must have been a very scary walk down in the winter.

Yes Dinah, they went worldwide with their mining skills and Tre Pol and Pen are typical beginnings of Cornish names.