On Thursday 13 July 2006, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell announced that the mining landscape of Cornwall and West Devon has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site, following a decision by the World Heritage Committee.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, the mines of Cornwall and West Devon produced much of the world’s tin and copper. Substantial contributions were made to the British Industrial Revolution; technological innovation was central to mining. One of the most notable contributions was the development of powerful steam engines to pump out water and allow mining deep underground. Many of these innovations changed mining technology across the world, influencing global cultures and economies.
The engine houses can still be seen today, standing monuments to the mining of tin and copper, and the people whose livelihoods depended upon it.
Tessa Jowell said:
I am delighted that the World Heritage Committee has recognised the outstanding universal value of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape and its important contribution to national and international industrialisation. This historic area and its people have significantly influenced the development of mining and engineering culture, not just in the UK, but across the rest of the world.
To many, World Heritage status calls to mind such famous monuments as Stonehenge and the Great Wall of China. But it is important to realise that sites like the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape are as deserving of recognition and protection as their more well-known companions on the World Heritage List.
Ten areas have been identified as best representing the many different facets of Cornish mining: St Just; Hayle; Tregonning; Wendron; Camborne-Redruth; Gwennap; St Agnes; Luxulan-Charlestown; Caradon; and Tamar-Tavistock.
For further information, visit the UNESCO World Heritage Centre website.