Our first lesson was about the geology of Cornwall. Rick explained that 3 minerals made up Copper Ore. He then showed us why the Copper Ore was transported to South Wales for smelting.
The Mine Train
We were all excited but apprehensive as we entered the mine and soon we were in total darkness apart from the glimmer from candles. The trains stopped– artificial lights showed us the miners digging out the ore by hand. This was painfully slow and backbreaking work. Phil told us that it took weeks to dig just a few metres of tunnel.
The Dressing Floor
The large lumps of rock which contained the copper dug out by the miners now had to be broken down into smaller bits. This was done by the children. The stones which contained ore were passed to the next station where the chyildren them down with smaller hammers. This was still hard work!
Our children were excitedly stuffing their pockets with these nuggets. You can see the copper glistening in the photo.
The Assayers Lab and Cottages
We visited the laboratory of The Asseyer. He was called James Medlan. He was a chemist. His job was to work out how much copper was in the ore. The children were fascinated by the rocks on display.
We then visited the miners cottage. Here 13 miners were crammed into a tiny room. There was a huge contrast in living standard between rich and poor in Victorian times.
The School Room
The village had a school for the children.
We experienced some of the Victorian punishments-the dunce’s cap, the cane, the finger locks for figiters and the back straightener for children who slouched. The school could not afford paper and so children were given slates to write in with slate pencils. Mistakes could easily be rubbed out by hand. We had to copy the handwriting on the board– loops and all!
We Dress in Victorian Costumes
Click on the inage to watch a video (2013) of one of the Morwellham activities-a geology talk from Rick.
Click here to view more images of the children at Morwellham from the website designed by the children in 2014.