This map is a fascinating piece of Victorian cartography that captures a Cornish Mining District at it peak. It covers the area to the north and east of Liskeard, an area that includes the Caradon, Menheniot and Ludcott mines.
Brenton Symons captured the Liskeard mining area at its zenith. At a time when all the major mines were in production, but just before the financial crash of 1863. He also published his map in the same year as the second edition of Webb and Geach’s book was written. Their book describes all the mines shown on the map, in doing so a valuable snapshot of the industry was created. This may have been more than a coincidence, for it is highly likely that Brenton Symons was a major contributor of information to the book, and it was intended that they could be used
The Map’s contents
The geology shown is relatively simple, and focused on the needs of the mining industry. Lodes, cross-courses, elvans, and the granite/killas contact are the only geological features. These features however, are displayed on far more detail then modern on British Geological Society maps.
As a resource for industrial historians Brenton Symons’ map is a real gem. Close inspection reveals a wealth of detail, shafts, open works, engine houses, water wheels, flat-rods and count houses are shown. Mine sett boundaries are clearly displayed, along with the depth of workings.
Brenton Symons was born in Gwennap in 1832, and was educated at Truro Grammar School. He became well known as a surveyor, mineralogist, and draftsman. On the map, he titles himself as “Land & Mineral Surveyor”. Soon after the Liskeard map’s publication, he followed in the footsteps of thousands of other Cornishmen to work abroad. In 1866, he became the civil engineer of the Chontales mining company in Nicaragua, and his name became associated with many companies in the Americas, none of which became successful.
The map in context
Brenton Symons’s map brought to life the multitude of mine names that filled the pages of the mining journal. Armed with the map, and from the comfort of their distant offices and homes, potential investors could imagine the packets of Cornish land that would bring them fortunes, or bankruptcy.
Symons’ map prospective buyers were not scientists interested in uncovering the geological past, instead this was a map whose buyers had a more limited interest in the ground beneath their feet. The map’s customers would have poured over its contents looking for where the next rich strike of copper, tin, lead or silver could occur. Today the detail it shows of the lodes around Caradon Hill forms a excellent supplement to the modern geological maps of the area.
More Information about the map
How much geology is shown on the map?
A summary of the mines shown on the map
The depth of the Caradon Mines
Phoenix United Mine as shown on the map
The granite/killas contact
Was Brenton Symons granite contact accurate?
The Victorian map versus a modern map
Getting a copy of the map
The map is available in digital format within ‘The Liskeard District in 1863′. Webb and Geach’s book is published as a paperback by The Trevithick Society.