Paul is the MD of Mining Searches UK which is based in Redruth and carries out mining searches throughout the UK.
In Cornwall and Devon we tend to focus on tin and clay mining, but copper, lead, zinc and silver were also extensively mined in the two counties.
Outside of Cornwall and Devon, the historical mining of Limestone, Bathstone and Chalk are just some of the activities covered by Mining Searches UK reports.
Because mining was carried out by individuals and private companies over hundreds of years, records of many mine shafts, tunnels and adits are incomplete or non-existent. Paul’s team are constantly researching and investigating to find historical maps and documents that will add to their already huge database of mining features. New information is regularly uncovered from many sources including private collections.
One of the more worrying facts in Paul’s presentation was when he told us that in days gone by, when a mine shaft was no longer needed the miners would fell a tree and heave it into the shaft where it would lodge itself part way down. They would then chuck down a load of branches. This would form a base for them to then fill the shaft with earth and spoil. Once the grass grew back there would be no indication of the shaft below – until the tree rotted. If you’re lucky a tell-tale hollow will form over the shaft as a warning sign. If not, the first you know there is a mine shaft is when it opens up!
So, when purchasing a property, you can’t rely on “local knowledge” to decide if a mining search is advisable. Best to ask the professionals. Unless of course you know a local pensioner celebrating a couple of centuries of life.