Birthplace of the steam engine
Linked very closely with the nearby town of Redruth, Camborne was at the heart of industrial Cornwall with up to 350 tin and copper mines in the area. Though South Crofty Tin Mine is currently the only mine in production, during the boom years of the 1850's the area was producing two thirds of the world's copper output. As many as 50,000 men and women worked in the mining industry during its boom, and the migration of miners into the area brought with it an atmosphere reminiscent of the Klondyke. Lodgings were overcrowded and, on miners pay day, heavy drinking and riots were not uncommon in the town! This mining dominance is reflected in the well renowned Camborne School of Mines, responsible for the training of mining engineers for work throughout the world, and the National Trust owned and restored Cornish Beam Engines situated at nearby Pool. The school's Geological Museum contains fascinating displays of local minerals and its Art Gallery regularly exhibits paintings by local artists. Both are open to the public. The great mine engines were produced by Holman Brothers of Camborne, which at its height employed 3,500 people, and which is still a major employer in the town, producing sophisticated mining equipment and portable generators for export throughout the world.
William Bickford, the inventor of the safety fuse once lived and worked in a factory in Tuckingmill.
Camborne's most famous son, Richard Trevithick, is the celebrated inventor and father of the road locomotive, his work led in 1801 to the first steam propelled vehicle for passengers taking to the road. He lived at Trevithick Cottage, Penponds for most of his life from childhood in the 1770's before marrying Jane Harvey in 1797. Although his work often took him away across the River Tamar and overseas, Trevithick returned to his cottage when he was in Cornwall. Camborne rightly commemorates his birthday each year with Trevithick Day, on April 26th. There are stalls, concerts, dancing, band processions and exhibitions - the climax is an impressive parade of steam locomotives, which winds its way (slowly!) through the town. A statue to his memory can be seen outside Camborne Public Library.
The 15th century church of St. Meriadocus has monuments to the Pendarves family who became Squires from the wealth earned from the mineral rights on their land.
Today, Camborne has a diverse range of both national and local shops, offering the facilities that you would expect of a small modern town centre. There is a good choice of cafes, restaurants, public houses and hotels, and among the all-weather attractions are: a bowling alley, go-karting track, nightclub and leisure complex.
The last working tin mine in Europe, South Crofty, is situated at Pool. An important mine in the 19th and early 20th century, the mine still employs some 300 people, and has survived the fluctuations in tin prices. Jewellery and other items crafted from South Crofty tin can be purchased in many local gift shops.
King Edward Mine Museum specialises in the mining history of the area. The mine dates from the 19th century and most of the equipment in the mill has been restored to working order.
As well as the mines, the area also had a wide range of tin streaming centres. One of the last of these was situated at Tolgus near Redruth, which is now home to the Cornish Gold Centre. Adjacent to the Centre there are the remnants of the 19th century tin streaming works, which can be viewed every day of the week.
The countryside surrounding Camborne is attractive and often overlooked by visitors. There are country restaurants, farm tours, pick-your-own establishments and a number of small tourist attractions. The landscape is dominated by the hill of Carn Brea, one of the landmarks of South West Cornwall, crowned with its stark memorial to the mine owner Sir Francis Basset. A walk along the ridge will take you through 5000 years of history; you'll pass Neolithic ramparts and the remnants of Iron Age hill forts; you'll see the medieval hunting lodge of Carn Brea Castle - now a restaurant - and you'll enjoy spectacular views stretching to St. Ives in the west and the Lizard Peninsula in the south.
To the north of Camborne lies Tehidy Country Park, a network of footpaths, cycle trails and picnic areas set amongst a lush lakeside landscape. Follow the trails on foot or bike to reach the towering north coast cliffs and the beaches and fishing harbour of Portreath.
Also to the north is Magor Farm where the remains of a Roman villa were discovered in 1931.
To the south is Pendarves Wood Nature Reserve, located just off the B3303 2 miles south of Camborne with the entrance on the left. Dogs are not allowed and there is limited parking. At times the tracks around the reserve can be wet and muddy. Pendarves was an important late 18th century country house owned by the Pendarves family, replacing residences dating back to the 16th century. The Manor house was dismantled in 1955 due to the fluctuating fortunes of the Cornish mining industry. The wood was planted and a lake created in the 19th century. During the Second World War, the site was used as an American base. After this the estate abandoned to the wild. Now owned by the Duchy of Cornwall.
Camborne still has a railway station on the main line through Cornwall.
The Camborne agricultural show is held every July.
The Railway Tavern
The Vyvyan Arms
White Hart Hotel
Hayle King Edward Mine Museum Portreath Redruth Mineral Tramway Discovery Centre Heartlands
Richard Trevithick Trevithick Cottage Trevithick Day The Shire Horse & Carriage Museum
Carn Brea South Crofty Mine Tehidy Country Park Tolgus Tin Stithians Lake Country Park