1863 – a Victorian year in perspective


The early 1860’s were a facinating period; a period packed with technological innovation and social change.

Unfortunatly my transformation of the Liskeard Mining Area in 1863 CD ROM to kindle format did not lend itself well to including the scene setting page describing 1863. So here are those words, starting at the World level and descending through the UK, Cornwall to get the events surrounding Liskeard.

1863 a Victorian year
This was the Britain of Victoria’s widowhood, Prince Albert had died in 1861, and the Queen was in virtual retirement. Her Prime Minister was the elderly Lord Palmerston, then in the last three years of his life. 

Europe was in the aftermath of the Crimean war and feeling the economic impact of the American Civil war.

It was the age of the Pre-Raphaelites and the impressionist artists, Charles Dickens was writing his novels, and Neo-Gothic architecture was in fashion. John Stuart Mill’s philosophy was forming the concepts of the welfare state we know in the UK oday.

Railways were making huge impacts on life in Britain, and their growth was breaking Cornwall’s isolation from England.
Science advances included Francis Galton writing the first book on weather mapping, Gregor Mendal conducting his pea trials to discover genetics and Nobel inventing the mercury fulminate detonator.

World News

HMS Warrior

The American civil war was in progress.
Slave emancipation proclamation was made by Abraham Lincoln.
The second empire existed in France, where Napoleon the III was in power.
The Prussian Danish War occurd.
An industrial arms race exists between armour, guns, forts and ironclads.
Maximillian accepts crown of Mexico.
The Gold Rush is under way in Montana.

Events in Britain
The Duke of Cornwall marries.
The Albert Memorial was being built.
John Stuart Mill writes Utilitarianism.
First underground railway is opened in London.
Boots the Chemist is founded.

“Victoria’s personal physician Sir James Clark recorded that he feared for Victoria’s sanity in 1863, and there were some who thought that Victoria had inherited the “madness” that had taken hold of George III, Victoria’s grandfather. “

Queen Victoria: A Life From Beginning to End”


Brunel’s Bridge across the Tamar

A Railway line is opened to Falmouth.
Cornwall’s isolation is broken by the growth of railways.
The Duchy’s Population had peaked in 1861.
Emigration was in progress, but was not yet on a massive scale.

The Cornish mining industry


The mines of the West Cornwall were becoming exhausted.
Devon Great Consols, and the East Cornwall mines dominated the Industry.
Overseas competition was having an impact on the markets.
Share speculation was damaging confidence in the industry.
The great copper price collapse of 1866 was just around the corner.



New Methodist chapels were opened.
Mining dominated the economy.
Ore traffic on the Liskeard and Caradon Railway peaked.
Liskeard is sufferred from overcrowding and poor sanitation caused by the mining boom.
The Liskeard water works had been recently opened.
Many new buildings were constructed by architect Henry Rice, funded from the wealth flowing outwards from the mines.

The following books contain more information about mining in the Liskeard area during 1863.

The Liskeard Mining District in 1863


The History and Progress of Mining in the Liskeard District


4 thoughts on “1863 – a Victorian year in perspective

  1. Thanks, this is timely information, I am currently writing a novel that involves a disused copper mine on the Looe-Saltash coast so useful extras for me. But what a terrible way to earn a living working in the noxious fumes and appalling conditions of these old mines.


      1. Hi, my novel is set in a fictitious village on the Cornish coast during WW2. For this reason the disused mine is an amalgam of Morwellham, which I have visited on different occasions and others I have read about or seen. My family once lived in the St Ewe area, and I know the Looe/Mevagissy area pretty well, so I have set the story there. Given that it is a cosy crime/murder story in a village where everyone is up to no good in one way or another to get round rationing and so on, I decided it was safer to create a fictional location. However, reading about the old mines has made me realize just how awful working in such a place must have been, even for the women and children working outdoors. As with my other novels, I have got very distracted by research.


  2. Pingback: William West- Some key dates | navsbooks

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