From Ohio University:
Dr. R. Damian Nance grew up in the seaside town of St. Ives, Cornwall, fascinated by the mines and ruins that harkened to a century past when Cornwall provided the world with tin, copper and other riches.
At the center of Cornwall’s success—and the subject of Nance’s new book—was the Cornish beam steam engine that pumped water out of the mines.
Along with Kenneth Brown, Nance co-authored A Complete Guide to the Engine Houses of West Cornwall, which releases in May. Nance is Distinguished Professor of Geological Sciences at Ohio University.
“Nowhere in the world has metal mining been of greater importance than it has in Cornwall, and it is in recognition of this extraordinary heritage and the global influence of the pioneering technology developed here that the county’s mining landscape was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006 on a par with the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Wall of China,” says the Black Dwarf Lightmoor website.
“During the 19th century, Cornwall produced most of the world’s copper and tin, as well as substantial quantities of lead, silver, arsenic, tungsten, zinc, iron and uranium. What made this unparalleled productivity possible was the development, pioneered by Cornishman Richard Trevithick, of the Cornish beam engine, a reciprocating steam engine capable of driving pumps that could keep the ever-deepening mines free of water.
“Although few of these great engines survive, many of the buildings in which they were once housed remain to this day, forming characteristic features of the Cornish landscape that have come to symbolize the county’s rich mining heritage and now stand as silent monuments to the mining industry for which the county was once justly famous.
“This book introduces these remarkable engine houses by providing an illustrated guide to those in West Cornwall using contemporary and archival photographs supplemented with brief descriptions of the engines the buildings once contained, simple interpretations of some of their key features, and short histories of the mines of which they were part,” continues the Lightmoor description. “It is not an exhaustive treatment, nor is it meant solely for the enthusiast, but rather, it provides an overview intended for all those interested in these historically important structures.”
Together, the authors bring over a century of expertise to this fascinating guide. Damian Nance is a St. Ives-born geologist with a lifelong interest and knowledge of Cornish engine houses, and Kenneth Brown is a leading expert on Cornish mining history and co-author of the highly popular “Exploring Cornish Mines” series.
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