Camborne Explained

Not to be confused with Cambourne in Cambridgeshire.

Camborne (Cornish: Cambron, 'Crooked Hill') was once one of the richest mining areas in the world and is located in north Kerrier, Cornwall in the United Kingdom, forming the western end of the greater Camborne, Pool and Redruth conurbation. It is now an ex-industrial town with a population of approx 23,000. When included with Redruth, Pool and 'satellite' villages, the conurbation is approx 44,000 [1], making it the largest conurbation in Cornwall. On 3 July 2008 Camborne was twinned with Pachuca, Hidalgo, Mexico, at a ceremony held in Mexico.[2]

Mining

Camborne is best known as a centre for the former Cornish tin and copper mining industry, having its working heyday during the later 18th and early 19th centuries. Camborne was just a village until transformed by the mining boom which began in the late eighteenth century and saw the Camborne and Redruth district become the richest mining area in the world. Although a considerable number of ruinous stacks and engine houses remain, they cannot begin to convey the scenes of 150 years ago when scores of mines transfigured the landscape.

Dolcoath Mine, (Cornish: Old Ground), the 'Queen of Cornish Mines' was, at a depth of 3500 feet (1067 m), for many years the deepest mine in the world, not to mention one of the oldest before its closure in 1921. Indeed, the last working tin mine in Europe, South Crofty, which closed in 1998, is to be found in Camborne.

Mining related

Apart from the mines themselves, Camborne was also home to many important related industries, including the once world-renowned foundry of Holman Bros Ltd (CompAir). Holmans, a family business founded in 1801, was for generations, Camborne's, and indeed Cornwall's largest manufacturer of industrial equipment, even making the famous Sten submachine gun for a stint during the Second World War. The Holman Projector was used by the Royal Navy. At its height Holmans was spread over three sites within Camborne, employing some three and half thousand men. Despite Britain's industrial decline, Compair Holmans Camborne factory finally closed in 2001.

On the Afternoon of Tuesday 5 December 2006, a wall of the Holmans factory was leaning towards the railway line, as a result the line west of Truro was closed for the afternoon and night and disrupting railway services, as it was feared the wall could callapse onto the mainline, part of the derelict factory was later demolished that night.

A modest quantity of South Crofty tin was purchased by a local enterprise and this gradually dwindling stock is used to make specialist tin jewellery, branded as the South Crofty Collection.

Camborne School of Mines

Because of the importance of metal mining to the Cornish economy, the Camborne School of Mines (CSM) developed as the only specialist hard rock education establishment in the United Kingdom, until the Royal School of Mines was established in 1851. Its beginnings can be traced to 1829 when plans for the school were first laid out and leading to the current school in 1888. It now forms part of the University of Exeter, and relocated to the University's Tremough campus in 2004. CSM graduates are to be found working in the mining industry all over the world. It has a very fine collection of minerals in its museum of geology.

History

In 1931 the ruins of a Roman villa were found at Magor Farm, Illogan, near Camborne, and excavated that year under the guidance of the Royal Institution of Cornwall.[3] It is the only Roman villa found in the whole of Cornwall.

An inscribed altar stone found at Camborne (now in the Church of St Martin and St Meriadoc), and dated to the tenth or eleventh centuries, attests to the existence of a settlement then.[4]

On Christmas Eve 1801, the Puffing Devil - a steam-powered road locomotive built by Camborne engineer Richard Trevithick - made its way up Camborne Hill in Cornwall.[5] It was the world's first self-propelled passenger carrying vehicle. The events have been turned into a local song:

Going up Camborne Hill, coming down,

Going up Camborne Hill, coming down,

The horses stood still,

The wheels turn around,

Going up Camborne Hill, coming down.

Trevithick was born in Penponds, in 1771, a miner's son, and was educated at Camborne School. His achievements (not to mention steam power, mining, and Cornish culture as a whole) are celebrated every last Saturday of April as the town's 'Trevithick Day', and by his statue standing outside Camborne public library.

Transport

The A30 trunk road now by-passes the Town around its northern edge. The old A30 through the Town has become the A3047. There is a small bus station half way along and to the south of Trelowarren Street (the main high street), which has featured in tales by Cornish comedian Jethro.

The railway station is a half-mile south from the town centre, with a level crossing and footbridge at its eastern end. Camborne station used to be famous for its short platforms, which meant that passengers on main line services between London and Penzance could only board and alight from certain carriages. Partly because of this not all services stopped at Camborne, preferring nearby Redruth station. The platforms have been upgraded but the memory lives on, again partly in stories by Jethro. Camborne station is served by CrossCountry and First Great Western trains.

Camborne was, for a while, home of Cornwall's only tram service. This system was opened in 1902 and ran a regular service to Redruth until it closed in 1927.

Rugby union at Camborne

Camborne RFC were established in 1878 and are one of the most famous clubs in Cornwall, having produced numerous Cornwall players over the years. In 1987 Camborne were the highest placed Cornish club in the newly formed National leagues when they entered at Courage National Division 4 South level, (equivalent to National Division 3 South today). Camborne is one of the grounds used by the Cornish rugby team and has hosted many notable international sides including the New Zealand 'All Blacks' in 1905, 1924 and 1953, Australia in 1908, 1947 and 1967, South Africa 1960, United States 1977 and numerous other touring sides such as the South African Barbarians and Canterbury (NZ). Since 2006 it was agreed to ground share the Recreation Ground with local Division One team the Cornish Pirates and the ground has undergone major reburbishment including a new stand for the 2007-8 and 2008-9 seasons. [6]

Regeneration

Despite a poor reputation as a depressed region throughout much of Cornwall, Camborne, Pool and Redruth are at the centre of a £150 million redevelopment scheme which hopes to reverse decades of social-economic decline in this former industrial heartland of Cornwall. 'CPR Regeneration', one of the government's 19 'URCs' or Urban Regeneration Companies, oversee one of the largest urban renewal projects in the country, driving the regeneration of up to 1.5 square kilometres of land with the aim of creating more than 4,000 jobs and increasing wages in the area by 15%. So far they have not achieved this.

However CPR has come under pressure from local MPs due to its refusal to co-operate with the owners of South Crofty Tin Mine in Pool, Baseresult Holdings. They have refused to allow the mine to re-start operations and threatened to make a compulsory purchase order of the area. The CPR have gone as far as illegally filling in areas of the mine with concrete without council permission although the council did not press charges against CPR. CPR have given all major contracts to date to Midas Homes, and this is viewed as suspicious by many local people, especially considering the presence of the Midas Construction Chairman on the CPR Regeneration Board.

Local MPs have criticized the organisation for interefering in the private sector, and said there maybe ulterior motives. Andrew George, MP for West Cornwall, said, "The RDA’s antics are at odds with the claims made to me by the Minister in Parliament and in a letter that the RDA ‘will be informed by the outcome of public consultation. I am astounded that a public body can be acting in such a predatory manner. The RDA seems to want to jump in where it is not wanted and yet it doesn’t intervene where it is. There are places like the Union Hotel in Penzance where the owner and local applicants would be grateful if the RDA were able to step in and purchase but the RDA says that it must be market tested first. Yet when they are faced with a Mine where the owners want to do something constructive, the RDA seem keen to intervene. The public sector has a role in supporting the private sector when projects are not able to be self sustaining. Public money and resources should not be used to undermine the efforts of the private sector".

Politics

Since the United Kingdom general election, 2005, Camborne now has a Liberal Democrat MP, Julia Goldsworthy, who is in favour of more self-governance in Cornwall. Pro-Cornish party Mebyon Kernow, who favour a Cornish Assembly, has a large following in the area and recently became the largest political group on Camborne town council after a by-election. The party now has four councillors on Kerrier District Council and six councillors on the town council out of a total of 17 seats. Of the remaining 11 seats, the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party both have five, and the Conservatives one.

Fiction

Alan M Kent's 2005 novel Proper job, Charlie Curnow ! is set in and around the Trelawney Estate.

Twinning

See also

Notes and references

  1. Web site: Census 2001: Key Statistics for Urban Areas in England and Wales. PDF. Office of National Statistics. 2004. 2007-12-05.
  2. http://www.cornish-mexico.org/news.htm Camborne twinned with Pachuca, Mexico
  3. B.H. St. J. O'Neil, "Roman villa in Cornwall", Antiquity 5 (1931), pp .494-5, with photographs
  4. See the discussion and bibliography in Elisabeth Okasha, Corpus of early Christian inscribed stones of South-west Britain (Leicester: University Press, 1993), pp.82-84.
  5. http://www.bbc.co.uk/cornwall/uncovered/stories/august2004/walk_through_time/06.shtml BBC Cornwall - Nature - Camborne History
  6. http://www.cornish-pirates.com/stadium.htm Pirates groundshare at Camborne RFC starts in 2006

External links