Mining Working Conditions



Historic Past

Tin Mining

Mining Areas

Mining  Remains

Arsenic Production

Tin Smelting

Working Conditions

St Just Area

St Ives Area

Camborne Area

Mining Links

Conditions in the industry were dirty, hard and dangerous. Even when mining was at its most profitable pay was low. The industry employed a large proportion of boys and women. The women did not work down the mines but on the surface processing the ore. Boys starting to work around the age of twelve. The average age a man for to be physically able to stand the hard work was 45.

It was not unusual for miners to walk four miles to work. On top of this, the mines could be very deep. Mechanical lifts were not employed so the work levels had to be reached by ladders. At the end of the day the miners had to physically climb up the shafts and retrace their steps home.

Even with all the modern health and safety standards, mining is a dangerous occupation now. Then, there were real risks of flooding, cave ins and men falling down shafts. The work entailed drilling hard rock, creating large amounts of dust very detrimental to health. If a miner was incapacitated, no benefits were available so they had to depend on charity.


Miners worked in complete darkness, their only lighting being candles which were often fixed to their soft hats. There was a risk that a gust of air in the mine could plunge them all into darkness. Candles had to be paid for out of the miners' own pockets.

Later conditions improved with the invention of the Davy Lamp, and metal helmets with battery powered lamps.


Miner's Lamp circa 1920s

Davy Lamp

Images reproduced by kind permission of Penlee House Gallery and Museum

Miner's Lamp circa 1920s

Davy Lamp