Redruth - a Gem of Cornish Heritage
It is hard to believe now that this small town, lying in Cornwall’s heartland, was once the centre of the largest and richest mining area in Britain. It’s neighbouring town of Camborne was home to Dolcoath Mine, once the largest mine in Europe. When the tin and copper deposits started to be exhausted in the mid 19th century, many Redruth men, along with their fellow Cornishmen, left to work overseas. This gave rise to the saying that wherever there is a hole in the ground you will find a Cornishman! Many of their descendents return to the area to trace their history at the excellent Cornish Studies Centre in the town. Another great source of family history is the Global Migration Project, housed in Murdoch House. Here the inventor William Murdoch installed the first piped gas supply in the country.
Redruth was first established as a village in the 12th century. With the rise in mining during the industrial revolution, the rich tin and copper deposits in the area changed Redruth into a very busy and prosperous industrial town. Evidence of these days can be seen in the rows of characterful miners cottages in the town and in the several imposing buildings in and around the main street. There are many well preserved old mine chimneys and buildings still to be seen in the surrounding countryside and, in fact, the whole area has been designated a World Heritage Site because of its industrial past. At the imposing high point of Carn Brea nearby it is possible to join the Mineral Tramways trail.
With the hardships that the mining life imposed, religion became a very major part of people’s lives and John Wesley was much in evidence in the area. The place where John Wesley preached at Gwennap Pit, near Redruth, still serves for holding occasional services and there are a multitude of Methodist and Wesleyan Chapels in the area.
Visitors to Redruth can walk the fascinating Town Trail.