The Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) encourages the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of particular value to humanity. This is embodied in an international treaty called the ‘Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage’, adopted by UNESCO in 1972.
The Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape was recognised as a World Heritage Site on 13th July 2006, placing it on a par with international treasures like Machu Picchu, the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China.
Each World Heritage Site is deemed to possess Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), which means that they have significances(s) which transcend national and cultural boundaries. The OUV of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape is described by UNESCO as:
The Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape was transformed during the period 1700-1914 by early industrial development that made a key contribution to the evolution of an industrialised economy and society in the United Kingdom, and throughout the world. Its outstanding survival, in a coherent series of highly distinctive cultural landscapes, is testimony to this achievement.
Tavistock - the eastern gateway to the World Heritage Site
Tavistock is the ‘eastern gateway’ to the World Heritage Site, and the ideal place to start exploring the mining landscape of west Devon and Cornwall. The town itself was transformed during the 19th century after the discovery of rich veins of copper and other metals nearby, such as at Devon Great Consols. Tavistock’s population nearly doubled between 1821 and 1861, and the town’s physical fabric was extensively remodelled as the Dukes of Bedford invested some of their mining profits in new public buildings and ‘model’ cottages for industrial workers.
According to UNESCO, the town's attributes of Outstanding Universal Value are:
For more information about the history of mining in West Devon and Cornwall see:
The World Heritage Site website
Wikipedia’s on the World Heritage Site
This extract on mining in Devon from Worth’s Tourist’s Guide to South Devon, dating to 1880