Products Found & Made In Cornwall

Cornwall has been trading its products ever since the Iron age. After the introduction of hand tools during the Bronze age, Cornish farmers began trading its produce throughout Cornwall. Over the years, Cornwall has exported many products including the more known items such as Tin, Clay and Pasties to the lesser known such as Pilchards and Concrete Blocks.

Tin Mining

Tin mining began in Cornwall at around 2150BC. This was one of the first metals to be mined in Britain & one of the first tin sources within central Europe. This metal was used in its true form or more commonly as an alloy when combined with other metals such as copper.

Early uses for this material include weapons, tools, pots and pans.

From its start in 2150 BC, Cornwall produced approximately 2 million tons of Tin until the final Tin mine closed at South Crofty in 1998.

China Clay

China Clay mining began in Cornwall in the 1700s. This product, also known as ‘white gold’, is used in pharmaceuticals, paper, cosmetics & pottery. 

Now operated by Imerys, deposits in St Austell, Cornwall hold the highest amount of china clay reserves in the world and is known for being some of the best quality.

From its start in 1750, St Austell has produced approximately 120 million tons of Clay. Although the clay industry has dropped in recent years, Clay mining is still prominent in Cornwall which plays an important part in the production of aggregates.

Granite Mining

For every ton of China Clay mined, approximately 5 tons of ‘waste’ is generated. This waste is in the form of Granite which is considered a secondary aggregate from the clay industry. Granite has played an important role in Cornwall for the construction of buildings, bridges and as a road stone aggregate.

Not all of the granite in Cornwall is classed as a secondary aggregate though. There are many mines in Cornwall operating as a sole purpose to mine Granite. Such mines include De-Lank quarry which produce walling stone and architectural pieces.

Cornish granite is known mostly for its Silver Grey colour in the central/southern part of Cornwall & its brown colour in the far east and west.

Some of the main Granite products produced in Cornwall include general aggregates such as 803/type 1 and coarse/building sand. Decorative aggregates can include 20mm Cornish chippings and 10mm Cornish gravel.

Concrete Blocks

The concrete block industry in Cornwall is little known but makes up a large proportion of its produce. Using secondary aggregates from the clay industry, blocks are sustainably produced using materials that are readily available.

There are 2 main block making companies in Cornwall,  making over half a million blocks every week combined.

The most prominent and largest producer of concrete blocks in Cornwall is Denis May, located in the Clays at the edge of St Austell. Over 375,000 blocks are made every week, which are exported all over Cornwall and the UK.

Many types of concrete blocks are produced in Cornwall, Some of the most common include, 4 inch, 6 inch, 6×4 dolly blocks, 4×4 dolly blocks and trench blocks.

Fishing

During 1700-1800 fishing was a major industry, focusing on Pilchards which were mostly exported to Italy.

Fishing in Cornwall has seen many ups and downs over the years, its hay day during the Pilchard fishing saw millions of tons of fish being caught and exported across Europe. 

Still a steady industry within Cornwall, there are 1000 fisherman still operating on its shores.

Cornish Hedging Stone

Known as Cornish hedging stone, this is a slate material used in the construction of dry stone walls throughout Cornwall.

This slate can be brown and blue in colour and is a popular material used all over the UK.

Cornish slate has been used as a building material for over 800 years. Its production in Cornwall has been prominent since the 1700’s resulting in many of the buildings in Cornwall being constructed entirely of this material.

One of the largest Cornish slate mines in Cornwall is Callywith Quarry, located near Bodmin.  

Some of the use’s for this stone include cut walling stone, hedging stone and decorative aggregates.