• Ella Sampson

Exploring Poldark Land

It's the ultimate fantasy isn't it reliving the footsteps of the daring yet dashing Ross Poldark. I have always loved the series and found a somewhat personal connection with it. From what I understand I have a lot of Cornish heritage. Even the surname I bear, Sampson, is a Cornish surname. It's nice to know that I have some Cornish blood in me! I've always had a connection to this place - it's probably very silly but I can imagine my distant relatives mining in deep Cornwall down the tin mines, just like they do in Poldark!


My first visit to the tin mines was really breath taking. It was always something I had wanted to do since seeing them on the TV, but in the flesh it's like you have to gasp for breath as you go through the emotions of "wow, they actually are real!". It was so nice and quiet too so we had the time to just go around these mines at our own leisure and really imagine the hard workers mining for tin in order to make a living. It is very clear that mining has been a part of the Cornish heritage for a very long time - by the mid 1700s, the Cornish mines were producing 12,000 tonnes of copper a year! Tin has been around in Cornwall for a while...Sten means tin in the Cornish lingo. It is common to think that when you imagine mining, you think of many men sweating and digging to hit tin, when it actual fact, women and children were apart of the workforce too. But, they didn't work underground...Known as "Bal Maidens" their job was to dress the ore that was bought up from underground which was the initial stage in separating the tin out from the other substances that was found. Children played their part too; in the year 1839, there was roughly around 7,000 children working on the mines - boys were sent underground as soon as they were big enough and girls worked alongside the ladies above ground.

There were actually some pretty gruesome dangers that came alongside of working on the mines. It was prone to catch various diseases due to working in a hot and stuffy atmosphere underground; Imagine working underground; it's dark, stuffy, hot and extremely dusty - not good for the lungs. Unfortunately, due to this, bronchitis, silicosis, TB and rheumatism were all really common diseases that workers underground could face. Life expectancy became incredibly short for miners.

Sadly, in the year 1849, many lives were lost in one of Cornwall's most tragic mining disasters. East Wheal Rose was a silver-lead mine near the village of Newlyn East - at its time, it was one of Cornwall's most productive mines. Between 1-2pm on Thursday 9th July, one of the worst thunderstorms ever know had broken very close to the mine. It was described of having very "dense, heavy, purple-black clouds....poured down floods of rain". This quickly escalated and the surface of the mine was swept away by the heavy rain which then rushed northwards braking into shafts...loosening and braking the timber frames which lay beneath. Those in the more southern part of the mine, luckily had time to escape. Once they discovered water rushing to the tops of the shafts, 18 men came up...but then no more. Those who perished in the disaster aged from 15 to 58. Thirty nine lives were lost in the tragedy.


*For those interested in surnames, the names of those reported missing were Bailey, Bartle, Bennett, Bice, Bishop, Clift, Eastlake, Ellery, Hosking, Jeffery, Kevern, Lampshire, Lanyon, May, Merifield, Michell, Pearce, Pengelly, Phillips, Pollard, Rowe, Stevens, Tippet, Tonkin, Trebilcock, Waters, White, Wilkins, Williams.

sourced from https://bernarddeacon.com/2020/07/09/the-east-wheal-rose-mine-disaster/#:~:text=On%20this%20day%20in%201846,1%2C266%20men%2C%20women%20and%20children.&text=By%20this%20time%20the%20mine%20had%20closed.


It is incredibly sad to think of these mining disasters and all the innocent lives lost. Yet, we know this is not the only mining disaster to happen in Cornwall. Despite not actually being as dramatic as the BBC One series, we still know that mining was a very dangerous job, however, it did shape the heritage of Cornwall as we know it today.

Ross Poldark and the miners from the BBC One Series, Poldark


If you did find yourself on a little staycation in deep Cornwall, I would highly recommend visiting the mines. The image at the top of the article of the two mines was taken from my trip not long ago to Botallack Mine near St. Just.

on the Tin Coast, near St Just, Cornwall, TR19 7QQ

It is National Trust owned, however, there is a car park fee unless you are members. Admission to get onto the sight is free.


A few things from the National Trust about the site:

  • The Botallack Count House Cafe is open daily from 10am to 3pm, serving takeaway food and drinks

  • Toilet facilities at Botallack Count House are open, there may be a queue for the toilet at times- thanks for your patience

  • In line with government guidance, you're required to wear a face covering in most enclosed spaces, unless exempt. Please bring one with you

  • Dogs must be on leads

  • Part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage site with well-preserved remains of mining heritage

  • Count House Holiday Cottage to rent

It is defiantly worth a visit!



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