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This article is about the place in Cornwall. For other uses, see Camborne (disambiguation).
Cornish: Kammbronn
Camborne Commercial Square.jpg
Commercial Square, Camborne Town Centre
Camborne is located in Cornwall
 Camborne shown within Cornwall
Population 20,845 (2011)
OS grid reference SW645400
Civil parish Camborne
Unitary authority Cornwall
Ceremonial county Cornwall
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town CAMBORNE
Postcode district TR14
Dialling code 01209
Police Devon and Cornwall
Fire Cornwall
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament Camborne and Redruth
List of places

Coordinates: 50°12′47″N 5°18′00″W / 50.213°N 5.300°W / 50.213; -5.300

Camborne (Cornish: Kammbronn,[1] 'Crooked Hill') is a town and civil parish in west Cornwall, England, UK.[2] It is at the western edge of a conurbation comprising Camborne, Pool and Redruth.[3]

The population of Camborne was 14,726 in 1901[2] and 20,010 at the 2001 census.[4] By 2011 the population had grown to 20,845.[5] In the same year the population of the Camborne-Redruth urban area, which also includes Carn Brea, Illogan and several satellite villages, stood at 55,400[6] making it the largest conurbation in Cornwall. The following settlements are in the civil parish: Barripper, Beacon, Bolenowe, Boswyn, Carwynnen, Coombe, Croft Mitchell, Higher Condurrow, Kehelland, Killivose, Menadarva, Nancemellin, Pengegon, Penponds, Reskadinnick, Rosewarne, Roskear Croft, Stennack, Tolcarne, Treslothan, Treswithian, Treswithian Downs and Troon.[7]

Camborne is located in what was formerly one of the richest tin mining areas in the world and was once the home to the Camborne School of Mines (see below). The School of Mines moved from the centre of Camborne to Trevenson, Pool and is now a specialist department of the University of Exeter, based at Penryn Campus.


In 1931 the ruins of a Roman villa were found at Magor Farm, Illogan, near Camborne, and excavated that year under the guidance of the Royal Institution of Cornwall.[8] It is the only Roman villa found as of 2006 in the whole of Cornwall.

An inscribed altar stone found at Camborne (now in the Church of St Martin and St Meriadoc), and dated to the tenth or eleventh centuries, attests to the existence of a settlement then.[9] Langdon (1896) records seven stone crosses in the parish of which two are at Pendarves.


View east from Dolcoath Mine, 1893

Camborne is best known as a centre for the former Cornish tin and copper mining industry, having its working heyday during the later 18th and early 19th centuries. Camborne was just a village until transformed by the mining boom which began in the late eighteenth century and saw the Camborne and Redruth district become the richest mining area in the world. Although a considerable number of ruinous stacks and engine houses remain, they cannot begin to convey the scenes of 150 years ago when scores of mines transfigured the landscape.

Harriets Pumping Engine house, part of Dolcoath Mine, built in 1860

Dolcoath Mine, (English: Old Ground Mine), the 'Queen of Cornish Mines' was, at a depth of 3,500 feet (1,067 m), for many years the deepest mine in the world, not to mention one of the oldest before its closure in 1921. The last working tin mine in Europe, South Crofty, which closed in 1998, is also to be found in Camborne.

Mining related[edit]

Holmans Rock Drill from 1955 (taken from the 55 vol. of CSM Magazine)

Apart from the mines themselves, Camborne was also home to many important related industries, including the once world-renowned foundry of Holman Bros Ltd (CompAir). Holmans, a family business founded in 1801, was for generations, Camborne's, and indeed Cornwall's largest manufacturer of industrial equipment, even making the famous Sten submachine gun for a stint during the Second World War. The Holman Projector was used by the Royal Navy. At its height Holmans was spread over three sites within Camborne, employing some three and half thousand men. Despite Britain's industrial decline, Compair Holmans Camborne factory finally closed in 2001.

On the Afternoon of Tuesday 5 December 2006, a wall of the Holmans factory was leaning towards the railway line, as a result the line west of Truro was closed for the afternoon and night and disrupting railway services, as it was feared the wall could collapse onto the mainline, part of the derelict factory was later demolished that night.

A modest quantity of South Crofty tin was purchased by a local enterprise and this gradually dwindling stock is used to make specialist tin jewellery, branded as the South Crofty Collection.

Tin originally mined at South Crofty was used to form the bronze medals awarded in the 2012 London Olympics[10]

Camborne School of Mines[edit]

Because of the prior importance of metal mining to the Cornish economy, the Camborne School of Mines (CSM) developed as the only specialist hard rock education establishment in the United Kingdom, until the Royal School of Mines was established in 1851. Plans for the school were laid out in 1829, leading to the current school in 1888. It now forms part of the University of Exeter; it relocated to the University's Tremough campus (now known as Penryn Campus) in 2004. CSM graduates work in the mining industry all over the world. It has a fine collection of minerals in its museum of geology.

Steam locomotion[edit]

Camborne Public Library, with Richard Trevithick's statue in front

On Christmas Eve 1801, the Puffing Devil – a steam-powered road locomotive built by Camborne engineer Richard Trevithick – made its way up Camborne Hill in Cornwall.[11] It was the world's first self-propelled passenger carrying vehicle. The events have been turned into a local song:

Going up Camborne Hill, coming down,
Going up Camborne Hill, coming down,
The horses stood still,
The wheels turn around,
Going up Camborne Hill, coming down.

Trevithick was born in Penponds, in 1771, a miner's son, and was educated at Camborne School. His achievements (not to mention steam power, mining, and Cornish culture as a whole) are celebrated every last Saturday of April as the town's 'Trevithick Day', and by his statue standing outside Camborne public library.

Cornish language[edit]

The Cornish language was the language of the area around Camborne until the 18th century.[citation needed] One of the most important surviving works of medieval Cornish literature is Beunans Meriasek, the Life of St Meriadoc the patron saint of Camborne.[12]

In the 20th century several Cornish words and phrases were noted as still in use amongst the inhabitants of Camborne. These include taw tavas (silent tongue) and allycumpoester (all in order).[12][13]

Although a limited amount of Cornish was taught in some schools in west Cornwall during the 19th and early 20th centuries the first school to properly dedicate itself to teaching revived Cornish was the Mount Pleasant House school run by E. G. Retallack Hooper in the post second world war period.[12] By 1984 Cornish was being taught in Troon and Camborne primary schools as well as Camborne secondary school and there was a Cornish language playgroup. In 2000 Roskear and Weeth schools were teaching Cornish.[14]


Parliamentary representation[edit]

The Camborne and Redruth constituency was created for the 2010 general election, following a review of parliamentary representation in Cornwall by the Boundary Commission for England, which increased the number of seats in the county from five to six.[15] It is primarily a successor to the former Falmouth and Camborne seat.

In the United Kingdom general election, 2010 the sitting Liberal Democrat MP, Julia Goldsworthy was defeated by the Conservative party candidate George Eustice with a narrow majority requiring a recount. The results for the three main political parties were:

  • George Eustice (Conservative) 15,969
  • Julia Goldsworthy (Liberal Democrat) 15,903
  • Jude Robinson (Labour) 6,945

Local government[edit]

The Camborne Local Board was established in 1873. The seal of the Camborne local board was a mine shaft and engine house depicted with the date 1873 and the legend "The Local Board for the District of Camborne".[16] This was later replaced by the Camborne Urban District which was merged with that of Redruth and parts of Redruth Rural District and Helston Rural District (both of which were being abolished). in 1934 to form the Camborne-Redruth Urban District. The urban district persisted until it was merged into the Kerrier district of Cornwall under the Local Government Act 1972.

Town Council[edit]

Camborne Town Council is currently has no overall majority. Composition of Camborne Town Council as of 2014:

Party Councillors
Labour 7
Conservative 4
Mebyon Kernow 3
Green 2
Independent 2
Total 18

Church history[edit]

Camborne Parish Church

Camborne's parish church is dedicated to St Martin and St Meriadoc: it is entirely of granite, of 15th century date and is listed Grade I. There is a western tower and the aisles are identical in design: an outer south aisle was added in 1878.[18] St Martin was added to the original dedication to St Meriadoc in the 15th century.

An inscribed altar stone found at Chapel Ia, Troon (now set in the altar of the parish church), and dated to the tenth or eleventh centuries, attests to the existence of a settlement then.[9] The chapel of St Ia was recorded in 1429 and a holy well was nearby. The site was called Fenton-ear (i.e. the well of Ia). The stone is very similar to one now in the garden at Pendarves, used as the base for a sundial.[19]

Camborne churchyard contains a number of crosses collected from nearby sites: the finest is one found in a well at Crane in 1896 but already known from William Borlase's account of it when it was at Fenton-ear. Two other chapels are known to have existed in the medieval period: one not far from the parish church was dedicated to Our Lady and St Anne and one at Menadarva (derived from Merther-Derwa) was one of Celtic origin dedicated to St Derwa, Virgin, but mentioned in 1429.[19]


The A30 trunk road now by-passes the Town around its northern edge. The old A30 through the Town has become the A3047. There is a small bus station halfway along and to the south of Trelowarren Street (the main high street), which has featured in tales by Cornish comedian Jethro.

The railway station is a half-mile south from the town centre, with a level crossing and footbridge at its eastern end. Camborne station used to be famous for its short platforms, which meant that passengers on main line services between London and Penzance could only board and alight from certain carriages. Partly because of this not all services stopped at Camborne, preferring nearby Redruth station (which is also classed by First Great Western (FGW) trains as a short station stop). The platforms have been upgraded but the memory lives on, again partly in stories by the comedian Jethro. Camborne station is served by CrossCountry and FGW trains.

Camborne was, for a quarter of a century, one of the termini of Cornwall's only tram service. This system was opened in 1902 and ran a regular service to Redruth until it closed in 1927.


Camborne RFC were established in 1878 and are one of the most famous clubs in Cornwall, having produced numerous Cornwall players over the years. In 1987 Camborne were the highest placed Cornish club in the newly formed National leagues when they entered at Courage National Division 4 South level, (equivalent to National Division 3 South today). Camborne is one of the grounds used by the Cornish rugby team and has hosted many notable international sides including the New Zealand 'All Blacks' in 1905, 1924 and 1953, Australia in 1908, 1947 and 1967, South Africa 1960, United States 1977 and numerous other touring sides such as the South African Barbarians and Canterbury (NZ). Since 2006 it was agreed to ground share the Recreation Ground with local Division One team the Cornish Pirates and the ground has undergone major refurbishment including a new stand for the 2007-8 and 2008-9 seasons.[20] This arrangement has now ceased as of 2012 season and Penzance now play at Morrab Road in Penzance.

Notable local rugby players include Josh Matavesi 18-year old debut for Fiji against Scotland in 2010, his younger brother Sam, debut V Canada 2013,[21][22] Roger Arthur, Llanelli and Wales and Andy Reed, Camborne, Bath, and Scotland.


The region of Camborne, Pool and Redruth district is currently at the centre of a £150 million redevelopment, which hopes to reverse social and economic decline in this former industrial heartland.

CPR Regeneration[edit]

CPR Regeneration (CPRR), one of the government's 19 Urban Regeneration Companies (URCs) is overseeing a large urban renewal programme in the country on behalf of a range of partners including Cornwall Council, the South West of England Regional Development Agency (SWERDA) and the Homes and Communities Agency. CPRR is tasked with driving the regeneration of former industrial land, attracting businesses and helping them create sustainable jobs; supporting local business growth ambitions and fostering employment growth through increasing the skills of those in and out of work. To date, as well as working on supporting businesses in the area—especially those in the town centres, CPRR has been engaged in the process of assembling sites, securing agreements with developers and doing enabling works for major projects such as the east-west link road between Redruth and Camborne.

A challenge faced by CPRR has been to work collaboratively with the owners of the South Crofty mine (which occupies a central position in the Pool regeneration area) to both allow mine development operations to continue and secure the re-development of the wider area around the mine. Stories did appear in the press[citation needed] regarding alleged illegal in-fill of ventilation shafts by CPRR. The truth—that English Partnerships had found old unmarked shafts on development sites which were in danger of collapse and made them good with concrete caps (removable if needed later by the mine company)--was lost. CPRR has continued to advance major projects in the area, such as a range of housing and infrastructure schemes, and will help SWERDA and the Homes and Communities Agency bring these forward shortly. Some of the work of the URC is becoming apparent, with works on the Pool Innovation Centre and the Trevenson Road area both advancing well.

Criticism of the Regional Development Agency[edit]

Local MPs have criticised SWERDA for interfering in the private sector, and said there may be ulterior motives. Andrew George, MP for St Ives, said, "The RDA’s antics are at odds with the claims made to me by the Minister in Parliament and in a letter that the RDA 'will be informed by the outcome of public consultation. I am astounded that a public body can be acting in such a predatory manner. The RDA seems to want to jump in where it is not wanted and yet it doesn’t intervene where it is. There are places like the Union Hotel in Penzance where the owner and local applicants would be grateful if the RDA were able to step in and purchase but the RDA says that it must be market tested first. Yet when they are faced with a Mine where the owners want to do something constructive, the RDA seem keen to intervene. The public sector has a role in supporting the private sector when projects are not able to be self sustaining. Public money and resources should not be used to undermine the efforts of the private sector".


Camborne Town Band has been contesting music records from the late 19th century until the present day. It has performed on BBC Radio and BBC Television.

Holman Climax Male Voice Choir, based in Camborne, was formed in 1940 by Edgar S. Kessell MBE (1910–1981).


The town has a number of schools covering all age ranges, notably the main secondary school, Camborne Science and International Academy, and a campus of Cornwall College.


Alan M. Kent's 2005 novel Proper job, Charlie Curnow ! is set in and around the Trelawney Estate, a fictional housing estate based on the Grenville Estate, Troon.


Camborne is twinned with two places: Santez-Anna-Wened in Brittany, France, and Pachuca, Hidalgo in Mexico. Camborne was twinned with Pachuca at a ceremony in Mexico on 3 July 2008.[23]

The town name inspired the name of Camborne, New Zealand, a seaside suburb of Porirua City developed by an investment company headed by an Arthur Cornish. Most of its street names are of Cornish origin.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "List of Place-names agreed by the MAGA Signage Panel". Cornish Language Partnership. May 2014. Retrieved 2015-01-11. 
  2. ^ a b  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Camborne". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
  3. ^ Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 203 Land's End ISBN 978-0-319-23148-7
  4. ^ "Census 2001 : Parish Headcounts : Camborne Civil Parish". Office for National Statistics. 2001. Retrieved 5 December 2007. 
  5. ^ Office for National Statistics, Key Figures for 2011 Census: Key Statistics, Area: Camborne parish
  6. ^ "Data from the 2011 Census (Office for National Statistics)". Cornwall Council. Retrieved 15 November 2013. 
  7. ^ Cornwall; Explore Britain
  8. ^ B.H. St. J. O'Neil, "Roman villa in Cornwall", Antiquity 5 (1931), pp .494–5, with photographs
  9. ^ a b See the discussion and bibliography in Elisabeth Okasha, Corpus of early Christian inscribed stones of South-west Britain (Leicester: University Press, 1993), pp.82–84.
  10. ^ Cornish tin to form part of Olympic medal Western Morning News Thursday, 15 March 2012
  11. ^ BBC Cornwall – Nature – Camborne History
  12. ^ a b c Berresford Ellis, Peter (1974). The Cornish Language and its Literature. London: Routledge & kegan Paul Ltd. 
  13. ^ Nance, Robert Morton (1923). Glossary of Celtic Words in Cornish Dialect. Falmouth: Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society. 
  14. ^ O'Néill, Diarmuid (2005). Rebuilding the Celtic Languages: Reversing Language Shift in the Celtic Countries. Y Lolfa. 
  15. ^ "Final recommendations for Parliamentary constituencies in the county of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly". Boundary Commission for England. 9 January 2005. Retrieved 1 January 2010. [dead link]
  16. ^ Pascoe, W. H. (1979). A Cornish Armory. Padstow, Cornwall: Lodenek Press. p. 132. ISBN 0-902899-76-7. 
  17. ^ "List of Councillors". Camborne Town Council. Retrieved 21 November 2013. 
  18. ^ Pevsner, N. (1970) Cornwall, 2nd ed. Penguin Books; pp. 49–50
  19. ^ a b Cornish Church Guide (1925) Truro: Blackford; p. 71
  20. ^ Pirates groundshare at Camborne RFC starts in 2006
  21. ^ "Plymouth Albion forward Sam Matavesi makes Fiji debut". BBC Sport. Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
  22. ^ "Sam Matavesi player profile". Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
  23. ^ Camborne twinned with Pachuca, Mexico

External links[edit]