Innovation and Inventors
Pioneering mining techniques and engineering innovation developed in Cornish mines played a key role in the industrialisation of Britain.
The development of deep, hard-rock mining during the eighteenth century frequently threw up problems for which practical answers had to be found.
Other people’s ideas and skills were sometimes imported, whilst local mineral owners, merchants, miners and engineers, were constantly experimenting, improving and innovating.
The Cornish mining industry was characterised by prolific innovation. The near-vertical metal deposits could only be reached by deep-shaft mining. Local pioneers invented the Newcomen atmospheric steam engine and first applied it to a metal mine, probably between 1710 and 1714, in West Cornwall. Newcomen’s engines were vastly improved by Cornish engineers during the second half of the eighteenth century.