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Going underground with the volunteers who've spent 40 years restoring a Cornish tin mine

The restorers want to recreate a working tin mine. Credit: ITV West Country

A group of mining enthusiasts have spent the last 40 years painstakingly restoring an old West Cornwall tin mine.

Rosevale near Zennor is one of the last complete examples of a working Cornish mine. One of the main aims of the Rosevale Mine Project is to preserve an important part of Cornwall's industrial heritage by restoring the underground workings to their condition more than a century ago.

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The project aims to create a realistic environment with the feel of a working mine, keeping alive some of the traditional skills of Cornish mining.

The mine was last in use before World War I and remained abandoned until the early 1970s when it was taken on by the West Cornwall Mines and Minerals Club as a restoration project.

Back in the 70s there was really no idea of trying to preserve this as a heritage thing. It's really because the mines have closed since the 1990s. Suddenly Cornwall no longer has active mines. Places like this take on a bit more significance, because there are so few places you can go underground now.

– Tony Bennett, Rosevale Historical Mining Society
Tin miners pushing a truck full of ore along the underground tramway. Credit: British Pathe

The volunteers have put in rail track, cleared rubble by hand and removed debris that has come down from the roof. They have even sourced authentic mining wagons and brought them back to life.

There is still plenty to do - there are 900 feet of tunnels to clear and maintain.

There are 900 feet of tunnels to clear and maintain. Credit: ITV West Country

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