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Mining landscape of Cornwall and West Devon becomes a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Full press release from Tessa Jowell, Culture Secretary, issued 13/07/2006:

99\06            13 July 2006

Mining landscape of Cornwall and West Devon becomes a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The mining landscape of Cornwall and West Devon has become a World Heritage Site, following a decision by the World Heritage Committee, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell announced today.

Cornwall and West Devon has supplied much of the western world’s tin and copper over the last 4,000 years and, for a time during the 18th and 19th centuries, the area was the world’s greatest producer of these metals. As such, it contributed substantially to Britain’s Industrial Revolution and influenced mining technology and industrialisation throughout the world.

It is this influence on the global culture and economy which has been acknowledged by the World Heritage Committee.

Tessa Jowell said:

“I am delighted that the World Heritage Committee has recognised the outstanding universal value of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape and its important contribution to national and international industrialisation. This historic area and its people have significantly influenced the development of mining and engineering culture, not just in the UK, but across the rest of the world.

“To many, World Heritage status calls to mind such famous monuments as Stonehenge and the Great Wall of China.  But it is important to realise that sites like the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape are as deserving of recognition and protection as their more well-known companions on the World Heritage List.”

The addition of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape to the World Heritage List extends the UK’s representation to 27 sites and heralds the UK’s support for UNESCO’s aim of widening the range and type of sites on the World Heritage List to include, among other categories, the industrial heritage.

Notes to Editors

1. The proposed Site includes all those mine sites and mining landscapes where there has been an exceptional survival of the physical remains. These are largely late 18th century, 19th century and in a few instances, pre-1914 mining remains.  It does not include those widespread areas of tin streaming that survive in Cornwall and West Devon, associated with a pre-Industrial Revolution technology and therefore not considered representative of the 19th century boom years.

2. Ten areas have been identified as best representing the many different facets of Cornish mining: St Just; Hayle; Tregonning; Wendron; Camborne-Redruth; Gwennap; St Agnes; Luxulan-Charlestown; Caradon; and Tamar-Tavistock. 

3.  The Cornish Mining Industry was included in the UK’s Tentative List of sites likely to be nominated in the future,  World Heritage Sites – The Tentative List of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was published by DCMS in June 1999. Inclusion on the Tentative List is a prerequisite for formal nomination.

4. The concept of World Heritage Sites is at the core of the World Heritage Convention, adopted by UNESCO in 1972, to which over 180 nations belong. Through the Convention, UNESCO seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of the cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. The Convention required the establishment of the World Heritage List, under the management of an inter-governmental World Heritage Committee as a means of recognising that some places, both natural and cultural, are of sufficient importance to be the responsibility of the international community as a whole. As a member of the Convention, States Parties are pledged to care for their World Heritage sites as part of protecting their national heritage.

5. Nominations for inscription on the World Heritage List are made by the appropriate States Parties and are subject to rigorous evaluation by expert advisers to the World Heritage Committee, International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) for cultural sites and/or the World Conservation Union (IUCN) for natural sites. Decisions on the selection of new World Heritage Sites are taken by the World Heritage Committee at its annual summer meetings. There are currently 812 World Heritage Sites in 137 countries. Some 628 are cultural sites, 160 are natural and 24 are mixed.

6. Inclusion in the World Heritage List is essentially honorific and leaves the

existing rights and obligations of owners, occupiers and planning authorities unaffected.  A prerequisite for World Heritage Site status is, nevertheless, the existence of effective legal protection and the establishment of management plans agreed with site owners to ensure each site’s conservation and presentation.

7. The UK’s World Heritage Sites are currently:


  • Ironbridge Gorge     
  • Stonehenge, Avebury & Associated Sites            
  • Durham Castle & Cathedral
  • Studley Royal Park including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey
  • Castles & Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynned
  • Blenheim Palace
  • City of Bath
  • Hadrian’s Wall
  • Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey & St Margaret’s Church
  • Tower of London
  • Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey & St Martin’s Church
  • Old and New Towns of Edinburgh
  • Maritime Greenwich
  • Heart of Neolithic Orkney
  • The Historic Town of St George  & Related Fortifications, Bermuda
  • Blaenavon Industrial Landscape
  • Derwent Valley Mills
  • Saltaire
  • New Lanark
  • Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  • Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City


  • Giant’s Causeway
  • St Kilda
  • Henderson Island
  • Gough and Inaccessible Islands
  • Dorset and East Devon Coast

Press Enquiries: 020 7211 6272\6276

Out of hours telephone pager no: 07699 751153

Public Enquiries: 020 7211 6200

Internet: http://www.culture.gov.uk




The Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape (Cornish Mining) today became a World Heritage Site, recognised as having cultural importance on a global level.

The decision was taken by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania following a submission by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on behalf of the World Heritage team.

Cornish Mining represents one of the longest histories of industrial heritage conservation in the world and is unique in being the first of its kind concerned with the mining and ore processing of tin and arsenic, together with copper and other industrial metals. Through these advances the industry contributed substantially to the industrial revolution in the rest of Britain.

Over 70 organisations have been involved in putting the bid together, which was the largest and most complex application ever submitted by the UK Government. Cornish Mining now joins the ranks of world-famous sites such as the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China and the Grand Canyon.

The World Heritage Site covers mining landscapes dating from 1700 to 1914, when deep hard-rock mining was developed locally and major technological developments within the area helped to transform mining both locally and worldwide.

Made up of ten distinct areas where the physical remains of mining from this period are best represented, the Site includes the mines themselves, the remains of the early infrastructure and the surviving evidence of its social and economic consequences including distinctive settlement patterns.

Adam Paynter, Chair of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site Partnership, said: “This is fantastic news and I am over the moon that our bid has been successful. A lot of organisations and people have been involved in the bid and I am delighted everyone’s hard work has been rewarded in such a fabulous way.

“World Heritage Inscription seeks to identify, protect and preserve the world’s cultural and natural heritage considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. The Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape now officially belongs to the world and we are the custodians charged with ensuring our heritage is preserved for the enjoyment of future worldwide generations.”

“We should all be amazingly proud that UNESCO has recognised the important role Cornwall and West Devon’s mining history has to play in the world’s arena, asking it to join the ranks of places as unique and diverse as the wilds of East Africa’s Serengeti, the Pyramids of Egypt and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia that make up our world’s heritage.”

Nick Johnson, World Heritage Site Bid Manager said “This Inscription recognises that the cultural identity of Cornwall and West Devon was transformed by mining during the 18th and 19th Centuries. For a time the region was the world’s greatest producer of tin and copper and the Inscribed area provided the essential raw materials for the industrialisation of the world. This took on global significance as a result of the mass migration of miners overseas.

“175 locations worldwide have known Cornish mining connections, in America, Australia, Mexico and Spain substantial mining landscapes survive.  But as importantly so do the cultural traditions of Cornish mining including its family names. An estimated 6 million people worldwide are descended from migrant Cornish; we hope to use the Inscription of Cornish mining as the impetus for further reconnecting this extended world family.”

Stephen Gill, a Chief Planning Officer who sits on the WHS Officer Working Group added: “This is fantastic news. I am absolutely delighted for everyone on the team who has worked so hard pulling the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage bid together.

“Nominated for its cultural landscape, the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape offers a real insight into our heritage and how mining in this area of the south west helped to shape the future of the industry across the world.

“World Heritage status brings opportunities to build on the environmental, economic and social well-being of the area and its wider hinterland, particularly through sustainable tourism with its all year round attractions. The status puts us on the World map as a place of international significance. Along with bringing a sense of pride to the community, the economic benefits will be huge.

“Evidence from other World Heritage Sites prove that the status brings in more visitors and more money which in turn will lead to more jobs as well as protecting existing jobs too. It’s already been estimated that the new status will bring in an extra 60,000 visitors to Cornwall and West Devon every year.

“We now look to the future of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape as a unique area to be protected and conserved for generations to come.”

The Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site bid was prepared on behalf of the UK Government - The Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) and funded by The Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site Partnership, which includes: Cornwall County Council, Devon County Council, West Devon Borough Council, The Objective One Partnership, South West of England Regional Development Agency, Kerrier District Council, Penwith District Council, Carrick District Council, Restormel Borough Council, Caradon District Council, North Cornwall District Council, English Heritage, The National Trust, the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty as well as numerous others.

Notes for Editors:

For further information please contact:

Beverly Skilton, Cornwall County Council:

01872 322512 or 07800 610 688 bskilton@cornwall.gov.uk

Paula Miles, Devon County Council Media and PR Officer:

01392 383290 paula.miles@devon.gov.uk

Alison Stoneham, West Devon Borough Council Media Officer:

01822 813648 astoneham@westdevon.gov.uk

The proposed site includes mine sites and mining landscapes where there has been an exceptional survival of the physical remains. These are largely late 18th century, 19th century and in a few instances, pre-1914 mining remains.  Ten areas have been identified as best representing the many different facets of Cornish and West Devon mining:

St Just






St Agnes

St Day/Gwennap

Luxulyan Valley and Charlestown

The Tamar Valley and Tavistock.

For more information log on to www.cornish-mining.org.uk

More information relating to World Heritage is available at http://whc.unesco.org/


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