In the heart of Pool, a village between the towns of Redruth and Camborne, is an attraction with plenty of, well, heart. Heartlands in Cornwall is a 19-acre site that the owners say ‘embodies Cornish culture’. We say that with regular events and exhibitions, a mining museum, diaspora gardens and two big kids adventure play areas, this place doesn’t just embody Cornish culture. It shows it plenty of love too.
Heartlands is in an important mining heritage area, so it figures that this place was born out of a former mining complex – the old South Crofty tin and copper mine site that ceased operation only around 25 years ago. A handful of Grade II listed buildings are still on the site and at the centre is Robinson’s Shaft, which was operating as early as 1833 but came to prominence in 1900, when it was deepened to exploit tin deposits. By 1910, after a few magnificent feats of engineering, it was used to take miners almost 450m below the surface. It was modernised in the 50s and 60s.
As well as the shaft, Robinson’s Cornish pumping engine, which worked between 1903 and 1955, can also be viewed by visitors at Heartlands. It stopped working on 1 May 1955, making it the last Cornish engine to work on a Cornish mine. It’s undergoing restoration but it’s hoped that one day it will run again using a hydraulic system. Visitors can still check it out as it still looks like it did back when it was built in 1854.
Heartlands has a great visitor’s centre so you can learn all about the mining history and heritage on the site and across the wider Redruth area. Check ahead to make sure it is open, though. There’s also a museum that tells visitors about the initiation rituals of the miners, their heartfelt stories and the electric and steam machines that once operated on the site. Plus, there’s a special Heartlands Mining diaspora exhibition open every Thursday to Sunday between 10am and 2pm.
The whole attraction is free to enter and there’s also a lovely little café on the site alongside its shop, massive outdoor adventure playground and indoor soft play area. Known as Wheal Play, the soft play opens between Tuesday and Sunday and costs £4.95 for kids and £1 for adults. Check the Heartlands website to find out about its regular events and go along even if you just want to wander around the pretty gardens that are scattered across the site. Heartlands embodies Cornish mining culture and then gets the little ones playing as you learn, eat, wander and relax. That has to be good for the heart.