This is the remains of Giew, a former tin mine just outside St Ives in Cornwall, England. I visited it recently with my family while on holiday. My story today is about a similar mine close by, Consols Mine in St Ives. I was unable to locate any remains during my short stay so I have taken this photo to give you an idea of what it may have looked like.
Edwin Trevollow, husband to Johanna and father of 10 children, was born in 1845 to William and Elizabeth. He was one of 9 surviving children and, like his father before him, grew up to be a Tin Miner. It was a hard job, working underground for many hours at a time in dark, damp and claustrophobic conditions. It was also a very dangerous job. Many hundreds of men died when mine walls or ceilings collapsed, men could be trapped underground for days awaiting rescue, perhaps a rescue that could never come. But despite the risks it was a profession that was undertaken by many men (and children) at the time. Even women were part of the industry, although more often they worked on the surface as ‘Bal Maidens’.
On the afternoon of Tuesday 15th of March 1887 Edwin and his son were finishing their shift and making their way back along the mine. A few days earlier they had been in another part of the mine when it had collapsed and blocked the normal way out, so it had been decided by some of the men that they could continue working by way of using a large bucket to get into and out of the mine despite this being against the rules.
Of course the men wouldn’t have been paid if they didn’t work and large families need feeding, rules or no rules.
Edwin waited for his turn to be pulled up to the surface, he stepped into the bucket, and was hauled upwards towards the fresh Cornish air. He was almost level with the outside world when the rope snapped. Edwin tumbled down 30 fathoms (180 feet to you and me!) to the bottom of the mine. A fellow worker heard him shriek as he fell. Edwin died instantly. The inquest into his death gave a verdict of accidental death and a stern reminder to the Mine Owner of the rules and regulations of tin mining. And that was that.
Johanna his widow was left with several young children still living at home to support. The 1891 census tells us she was being maintained by her 21 year old son William. He was a Tin Miner. Johanna’s life must have been one of worry, just like many of her neighbours.
Johanna died in 1900 aged just 53.
The couple share a grave on a hillside looking out to sea.