James Crowden
at the Wheal Jane Tin Mine in Cornwall


For me this was an extraordinary opportunity to spend two weeks at the old mine sites of Wheal Jane and at South Crofty. Tin has been vital to Cornwall's economy and status for at least two thousand years. In March 1998 the last tin mine South Crofty closed and Cornwall still cannot quite believe that it has happened. My purpose was using material I had gathered over the last two years to weld the poetry together into a cohesive body of work that could be published alongside black and white photographs and with copious notes.

My time at the Old Mine Offices at Baldhu was very useful spent in the old reception booth perched on a stool, where I could work but at the same time pass the time of day with whoever was coming in or out of the offices. And they were just the people I wanted to talk to. Old mine captains, geologists, surveyors, metallurgists etc etc. Some had not been back for two years as they had been working abroad - some as far afield as Brazil.

The response from people working there was extremely helpful and I managed to gather large amounts of information, as well as helping to make a Radio 4 Open Country programme about the Mine and the environmental oddities that occur with mining as well as the knock on effects once mining has ceased. The programme was broadcast twice that week. Much more publicity will be generated about the residency when my book (The Wheal of Hope - A Tribute to Cornish Tin Mining, with photographs by George Wright) comes out in September.

The mine is currently under offer and may - much to everybody's amazement - re-open.


Young Poets Network