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emigration poster to Van Diemen's land and New South Wales Mr Latimer of Truro

Emigration was one of the major factors that shaped Cornwall.

Many miners travelled abroad to find work in newly-discovered mining areas in Australia, the Americas, Africa and Asia.Their knowledge and expertise were highly sought after. Cutting edge skills and technology increased the development of mining leaving a visible mark on the landscape. Cornish Engine houses dominated the landscape on all continents. Some Miners were emigrating long before the slumps due to the premium that their Cornish mining or engineering experience could command. Without Cornish technology and experience, the Californian Gold Rush would have stalled a short way below the surface.

During the Great Migration (c1815-1930), from 1861 and 1901, every ten years 20% of Cornish men migrated abroad.With a population that never exceeded 500,000 in the nineteenth century, Cornwall lost anywhere between a quarter to half a million people.

Although not all emigrants were miners, it was to mining communities overseas that Cornish traditions were most obviously transferred, replicating their familiar Cornish mining landscapes. This gave the Cornish mining industrial region a global significance, exporting its culture as well as its mining expertise and its copper and tin, worldwide. Cornish engine houses and Cornish chapels can still be found in countries as far apart as Australia and Mexico.


Photograph reproduced with the kind permission of the Geevor Archivel

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