Cornish copper production by parish

…hardly a patch of Cornwall was not touched by copper mining

In appendix IV of D.B. Barton’s A History of Copper Mining in Cornwall and Devon (1961) the author presents a table of copper ore and copper production by each parish in Cornwall and west Devon between 1815 and 1905. It remains the classic work on Cornish copper mining.

Barton compiled it from statistics published in the Memoirs of the Geological Survey on Copper Ores of Cornwall and Devon. I have taken the liberty to transcribe the table and reproduce it here and compile a bar graph to illustrate the data and allow comparison. I intend to map this data too for a more visual representation of Cornish copper producing areas. The results may surprise you. Continue reading

Victorian Excel: Swansea and Cornwall Ticketing documents

I learned a lot about historical business records from the Richard Burton Archives at Swansea University, largely due to their resident expert in Business Archives, Stacy Capner who has also driven the innovative Wales Powering the World Project. I discussed my approach to business archives, very much that of a material culture historian who is interested in charting the journeys and transformation of materials and objects, at The Bottom Line, a Business Archives workshop held in Swansea in January.

While undertaking a survey of copper archives in Swansea The collection with which I became most familiar was the Grenfell Collection (LAC/45). Pascoe Grenfell and Sons (PG&S) was one of the premier players in the global copper business from 1830 until their liquidation in 1892. As as result of their assiduous record keeping much of their business remains documented in several archives. In addition to Swansea, collections can also be found in Buckinghamshire and Bangor. Bangor University Archives holds a collection of records pertaining to the previous incarnation of PG&S, Williams and Grenfell. This collection contains an exceptional set of documents called Ticketings. Continue reading

Long live Chile, and long live the miners!

A trapped Chilean miner from video footage (Credit: AP Photo/Television Nacional de Chile)

A trapped Chilean miner from video footage (Credit: AP Photo/Television Nacional de Chile)

Chile has been a major producer and world exporter of copper ores for about 150 years. It is currently the world’s largest producer of copper. The mines discovered and exploited in Chile contributed to the closure of copper mines in Cornwall in the mid-nineteenth century and its ores, with those of southern Australia became the pre-eminent sources for this versatile metal.

However, this efficient exploitation of arguably Chile’s most important natural asset comes at a price. Every day skillful miners work deep under the earth’s surface to extract the ores and send them to terra firma for processing. This morning, people woke up to the news that the thirty-three Chilean miners who had become trapped 4.5 miles from the mine’s entrance, and nearly a mile deep under the desert, on 5 August after a landslide, were still alive and apparently in good spirits. Television Nacional de Chile broadcast a video of the miners and Associated Press reported:

The first video released of the 33 men trapped deep in the Chilean copper mine in Copiapó, San Jose, shows the men stripped to the waist and appearing slim but healthy, arm-in-arm, singing the national anthem and yelling “long live Chile, and long live the miners!”

Video broadcast in Spanish by Television Nacional de Chile

Watch clips from the trapped miners’ video with English subtitles from the Guardian.
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