A Cornish mining site that’s been pretty much unaltered for more than 100 years and boasts a fascinating museum. We don’t really need to tell you much more than that. But we’re going to… King Edward Mine Museum, which is entirely run by volunteers, is a Cornish tin mill and working museum in Troon, a village on the outskirts of Redruth and Camborne. In fact, it’s considered one of the most important historical treasures in the collection of UNESCO’s Cornish Mining World Heritage Sites in the county.
Tours are the order of the day at this attraction, which is open between 10am and 3pm, Sunday to Wednesday, between April and September. Guides take you around the mill which keeps a fair amount of the original mining engineering equipment in place, much of which has been expertly restored over the years. There are 1901 Californian Stamps to marvel at, as well as one of the last Cornish Round Frames in existence. The guides demonstrate the equipment and tell the story of the innovative Holman Brothers company that was founded in 1801 in Camborne and became a highly prized manufacturer of rock drills. The brothers’ Holman Silver 303 Airleg Drill was used in mines across the globe in the 19th century.
The men and women who worked in this mine, which sits at the eastern part of the massive South Condurrow Mine site, are put under the microscope on the tour, as well as those who studied here from 1897 to 2005 when it was an important training centre for the Camborne School of Mines. There’s also an old boiler house that’s now used for exhibitions and four Cornish Engine Houses that are worth a look, as well as a 1908 Holman Winding Engine that was used to bring ore up from deep underground. It still operates in its original location, running on compressed air.
One of the big draws to King Edward is the fact that all the mining equipment is shown in action. This isn’t just a museum where you stare at still exhibits. It’s epic to see massive antique sorting machines burst into life as the tour guides take you through how they work and how the mining technologies evolved in Cornwall over many years. Another highlight is the computer-generated underground 3D map of Cornwall’s mine shafts and workings. It’s mind-blowing to realise what a wealth of works are still there underneath your feet and across the county.
This really is a chance to learn all about the tin mining history in this rich industrial area. While you’re here, the charming Croust Hut Café in the conserved Assay Office building on the 22-acre site needs hitting up. It’s open between Thursday and Sunday, 10am to 3pm, throughout the year for coffee and cakes. On top of this, there’s also a shop that stocks a wealth of books on mining and a seven-mile circular Great Flat Lode Trail that begins and ends in the attraction’s car park, taking you around the nearby former mining lands as well as giving you the chance to deviate and stroll up to the famous Carn Brae neolithic hilltop settlement which offers fab panoramic views of the area. All in all, this is a unique glimpse into Cornwall’s mining past with great coffee, cakes, books and walks to boot.