CORNISH-L ArchivesArchiver > CORNISH > 1998-11 > 0910935337
From: "John Coles" <>
Subject: Re: Carn Brea Castle, Redruth
Date: Thu, 12 Nov 98 21:35:37 PST
Connie has already given us a wonderful history of Carn Brea, so I won't repeat that, but merely try to give you the 'flavour' of this place.
First, go back in time around 190 years, a time before most of your ancestors had even heard of America or Australia:
Imagine, if you will, the twin towns of Redruth (to the north east of Carn Brea) and Camborne (to the West of Crn Brea). These towns have become the 'boom towns' with shops and houses built to reflect the new wealth being generated throughout this area by the rapid opening up of new mines.
But these are not the shanty towns of the Gold Rush, but substantially built towns, with rows of decent stone cottages for the workers, and 'villa' type houses with attractive front doors, and deep overhanging eaves to the roofs, and gardens, and wonderful terracotta facades to the buildings in the main streets.
And just behind those workers cottages, and oppulent main streets, lie the deep dark pits of the mines, the timberwork, the smiths shops, the ever-hammering stamps, and the engine houses... great, impressive structures, belching smoke, and housing some of the greatest creations of the engineering of the early nineteenth century.
As the massive beam engines, (many cast in Camborne, or nearby Hayle) made their majestic strokes, moving pumps and ore, men and machines, from hundreds (or even thousands) of feet underground, the great bulk of Carn Brea sat their impassively looking down.
For the hill of Carn Brea is the wonderfully theatrical backdrop to this scenery of mining towns and smoking / steaming mines, tin stamps, and smelting houses.
It runs, like the painted backcloth of an opera house, along in a ridge behind the twin towns, and crowded along it's northern slopes, between that small (but prominent) castle, and the towns themselves, are the mines. Many running along the 'Great Flat Lode' which is now bidding to become a 'World Heritage Site'.
Today, if you make your way through the industrial estates, and the remaining cottages, and avoid (like the plague) the tree planting and artistic landscaping of the 'Mineral Tramways Project', you can still make your breathless way to the top of Carn Brea. There you can stand, stagger, or sit, amongst the granite outcrops and look down on a scene which can still inspire that imaginative picture.
Below you are the terraces of the workers cottages, the factories which made compressors and rock drills for mines all around the world, and the gaunt headgear of South Crofty Mine - Cornwall's last Tin Mine, which closed in March this year, but may???? reopen.
Below you is the landscape where the world's FIRST road car (driven by steam, made in Cornwall, and invented by Trevithick) travelled in 1801. The landscape which saw the invention of the Bickford Safety Fuse which saved thousands of lives. The landscape that first saw the use of gas to light houses and streets (pioneered by the man who lived in the house which now houses the research work of Moira Tangye)....the landscape which saw the world's deepest mine (Dolcoath) and which still (yes, STILL) houses the world's finest mining tuition at the Camborne School of Mines.
And if you walk through the village of Carnkie, on the southern slopes of Carn Brea, you can have an even better time, because here the past comes flooding back, in a village little changed, as you glimpse the evidence of mines through gaps in the cottages... and Carn Brea rears itself, once more, as a vast theatrical backdrop.
Oh, and I almost forgot... when you sit up there, high up, in the middle of Cornwall, with our mining heritage below and Stone Age hut circles below you... you are looking out over a landscape which represents some 5,000 years of history.... and, beyond, a few miles away, the Atlantic Ocean, on which so many Cornish people trusted their fate some 150 years ago.
John & Anna, Producers of
'KERNOW SOUND the SOUNDS OF CELTIC CORNWALL'
The magazine you can listen to,
produced in Launceston, Cornwall.
> Linda & List,
> Carn brea is between Redruth and Camborne. It has a very small castle, from
> a little book I picked up by Michael Tangye I will write some of the things
> he said about it. The building which we see today is much larger than the
> original construction. It existed in the medieval period about 1478.
> Evidence exists to suggest that the Castle was possibly solely used as a
> chapel or an oratory for the use of the Bassets. On 28th May 1379, Bishop
> Lacy granted William Basset and Margaret his wife license for the "Chapels
> or oratories at Tehidy and Carnbre." In 1755 Mrs. Basset has lately
> erected a small pleasure house on this hill in ye appearacne of fort, where
> an Ancient British (fort) formally stood.