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Camborne
Camborne Commercial Square.jpg
Commercial Square, Camborne Town Centre
Camborne shown within Cornwall
Population 21,600 (2013)
OS grid reference SW645400
Civil parish
  • Camborne
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Region
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town CAMBORNE
Postcode district TR14
Dialling code 01209
Police Devon and Cornwall
Fire Cornwall
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament
  • Camborne and Redruth
List of places
UK
England
Cornwall

Camborne (Cornish: Kammbronn, 'Crooked Hill') is a town and civil parish in west Cornwall, UK. It is at the western edge of a conurbation comprising Camborne, Pool and Redruth.

The population of Camborne was 14,726 in 1901 and 20,010 at the 2001 census. By 2011 the population had grown to 20,845. In the same year the population of the Camborne-Redruth urban area, which also includes Carn Brea, Illogan and several satellite villages, stood at 55,400 making it the largest conurbation in Cornwall. The following settlements are in the civil parish: Barripper, Beacon, Bolenowe, Boswyn, Carwynnen, Coombe, Croft Mitchell, Higher Condurrow, Kehelland, Killivose, Menadarva, Nancemellin, Pengegon, Penponds, Reskadinnick, Rosewarne, Roskear Croft, Stennack, Tolcarne, Treslothan, Treswithian, Treswithian Downs and Troon. The Northern edge of the parish includes a section of the South West Coast Path which includes; Hell's Mouth and Deadman's Cove.

Camborne is located in what was formerly one of the richest tin mining areas in the world and was once the home to the Camborne School of Mines (see below). The School of Mines moved from the centre of Camborne to Trevenson, Pool and is now a specialist department of the University of Exeter, based at Penryn Campus.

Geography

Camborne is in the western part of the largest urban and industrial area in Cornwall with the town of Redruth 3 miles (4.8 km) to the east. It is the ecclesiastical centre of a large civil parish and has a town council. Camborne-Redruth is on the northern side of the Carn Brea/Carnmenellis granite upland which slopes northwards to the sea. The two towns are linked by the A3047 road which was turnpiked in 1839 and the villages along the road (from the west) were Roskear, Tuckingmill, Pool and Illogan. Running north-south are a number of small streams with narrow river valleys which have been deeply-cut following centuries of tin streaming and other industrial processes. An example is the Red River valley which crosses the A3047 at Tuckingmill. To the north, the A30 (road) forms a boundary between the urban area and the agricultural land on the other side.

History

The first mention of the medieval Camborne churchtown is in 1181 although in 1931 the ruins of a probable Romano-British villa were found at Magor Farm, Illogan, near Camborne, and excavated that year under the guidance of the Royal Institution of Cornwall. It is the only Roman villa to be found in the whole of Cornwall. There are also early Christian sites such as an inscribed altar stone, (now in the Church of St Martin and St Meriadoc), and dated to the tenth or eleventh centuries, which attests to the existence of a settlement then. Langdon (1896) records seven stone crosses in the parish of which two are at Pendarves. By the late Middle Ages manorial holdings developed in the surrounding area, and church-paths linked the churchtown to the outlying hamlets. Cornish medieval mystery plays were held in a playing place and the chuchyard is said to have had a pilgrimage chapel and holy well. John Norden visited in 1584 and described Camborne as ″A churche standinge among the barrayne hills'″. At this time there would have been moors and rough grazing as well as small fields in the surrounding countryside.

By 1708 Camborne had rights to hold markets and three fairs a year which may be an indication of tin mining in the area; Camborne's was inland and in an unfavourable location for trading. Mining is first recorded locally in the 1400s with early exploitation of the small streams cutting through the mineralised area and from shallow mines following lodes. Adit mining was first recorded in the 16th-century. A sign of increasing industrial activity and increasing industrial population is the first chapel built in 1806 and the development of a local Methodist community. In 1823 the population was around 2,000 and in 1841 it was 4,377, with 75 smiths recorded and over two-thirds of the working population employed in the mining industry. In the expanding town gasworks were opened in 1834, the Hayle Railway was built (1834–37) and Holmans opened a small foundry in 1839.

Mining

Tin-mining-cornwall-c1890
View east from Dolcoath Mine, 1893

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.

Harriets
Harriets Pumping Engine house, part of Dolcoath Mine, built in 1860

Dolcoath Mine, (English: Old Ground Mine), the 'Queen of Cornish Mines' was, at a depth of 3,500 feet (1,067 m), for many years the deepest mine in the world, not to mention one of the oldest before its closure in 1921. The last working tin mine in Europe, South Crofty, which closed in 1998, is also to be found in Camborne.

Mining related

Holmans drill 1955
Holmans Rock Drill from 1955 (taken from the 55 vol. of CSM Magazine)

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 collapse 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. Tin originally mined at South Crofty was used to form the bronze medals awarded in the 2012 London Olympics

Camborne School of Mines

Because of the prior 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. Plans for the school were laid out in 1829, leading to the current school in 1888. It now forms part of the University of Exeter; it relocated to the University's Tremough campus (now known as Penryn Campus) in 2004. CSM graduates work in the mining industry all over the world. It has a fine collection of minerals in its museum of geology.

Steam locomotion

Camborne Library And Richard Trevithick Statue - geograph.org.uk - 23241
Camborne Public Library, with Richard Trevithick's statue in front

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. 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.

Cornish language

The Cornish language was the language of the area around Camborne until the beginning of the 18th century and it is recorded that everyone living west of Truro spoke Cornish in 1644. Nicholas Boson wrote that Cornish was spoken as far east as Redruth and Falmouth circa 1700. In 1700 the pioneering Celtic linguist Edward Lhuyd came to Cornwall to study the language and visited Camborne, detailing many aspects of the parish.

One of the most important surviving works of medieval Cornish literature is Beunans Meriasek, the Life of St Meriadoc the patron saint of Camborne. In the 19th century the nickname for Camborne people was Mera-jacks, or Merry-geeks, and those who washed in St Meriasek's well were called Merrasicks, Merrasickers, Moragicks or Mearagaks.

In the 20th century several Cornish words and phrases were noted as still in use amongst the inhabitants of Camborne. These include taw tavas (silent tongue) and allycumpoester (all in order).

Although a limited amount of Cornish was taught in some schools in west Cornwall during the 19th and early 20th centuries the first school to properly dedicate itself to teaching revived Cornish was the Mount Pleasant House school run by E. G. Retallack Hooper in the post second world war period. By 1984 Cornish was being taught in Troon and Camborne primary schools as well as Camborne secondary school and there was a Cornish language playgroup. In 2000 Roskear and Weeth schools were teaching Cornish.

In the 2011 UK census, although there was no specific Cornish language question, thirty people living in the parish of Camborne declared that Cornish was their main language at home, thirteen in Troon and Beacon.

Church history

Camborne Parish Church - geograph.org.uk - 189351
Camborne Parish Church
Two ancient crosses in the grounds of Camborne Parish Church - geograph.org.uk - 1017203
Two ancient crosses in the grounds of Camborne Parish Church

Camborne's parish church is dedicated to St Martin and St Meriadoc: it is entirely of granite, of 15th-century date and is listed Grade I. St Martin was added to the original dedication to St Meriadoc in the 15th-century. There is a western tower and the aisles are identical in design: an outer south aisle was added in 1878–79 to a design by James Piers St Aubyn. The church was re-opened on 7 August 1879 by Edward Benson, the Bishop of Truro.

An inscribed altar stone found at Chapel Ia, Troon (now set in the altar of the parish church), and dated to the tenth or eleventh centuries, attests to the existence of a settlement then. The chapel of St Ia was recorded in 1429 and a holy well was nearby. The site was called Fenton-ear (i.e. the well of Ia). The stone is very similar to one now in the garden at Pendarves, used as the base for a sundial.

Camborne churchyard contains a number of crosses collected from nearby sites: the finest is one found in a well at Crane in 1896 but already known from William Borlase's account of it when it was at Fenton-ear. Arthur Langdon (1896) records six crosses in the parish, including two at Pendarves, two at Trevu and one outside the Institute.

Two other chapels are known to have existed in the medieval period: one not far from the parish church was dedicated to Our Lady and St Anne and one at Menadarva (derived from Merther-Derwa) was one of Celtic origin dedicated to St Derwa, Virgin, but mentioned in 1429.

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 halfway 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 (which is also classed by First Great Western (FGW) trains as a short station stop). The platforms have been upgraded but the memory lives on, again partly in stories by the comedian Jethro. Camborne station is served by CrossCountry and FGW trains.

Camborne was, for a quarter of a century, one of the termini of Cornwall's only tram service. This system was opened in 1902 and ran a regular service to Redruth until it closed in 1927.

Music

Camborne Town Band has been contesting music records from the late 19th century until the present day. It has performed on BBC Radio and BBC Television.

Holman Climax Male Voice Choir, based in Camborne, was formed in 1940 by Edgar S. Kessell MBE (1910–1981).

Fiction

Alan M. Kent's 2005 novel Proper job, Charlie Curnow ! is set in and around the Trelawney Estate, a fictional housing estate based on the Grenville Estate, Troon.

Twinning

Camborne is twinned with two places: Santez-Anna-Wened in Brittany, France, and Pachuca, Hidalgo in Mexico. Camborne was twinned with Pachuca at a ceremony in Mexico on 3 July 2008.

The town name inspired the name of Camborne, New Zealand, a seaside suburb of Porirua City developed by an investment company headed by an Arthur Cornish. Most of its street names are of Cornish origin.


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