Camborne School of Mines - 100 years of mining education at King Edward Mine

The Camborne School of Mines (CSM) was established in 1887. 

This was achieved in 1897 when CSM took over, and subsequently developed,  the abandoned eastern part of the South Condurrow Mine a mile or so from Camborne. This was renamed King Edward in 1901 and all of the buildings from that period have survived to this day.

In the late 19th century,  students spent some of their time doing practical mining and tin dressing work in the local tin mines with some of the academic classes held in the evenings.   Unfortunately the local mining  industry was almost in terminal decline and the surviving mines were falling behind technically. This was hardly ideal from the instruction point of view. The only real solution was for the School to have its own underground mine.

CSM student underground at King Edward Mine 1903 CSM student underground at King Edward Mine 1903

In he early years of the 20th century, King Edward Mine became the most photographed mine in the world.  Between 1893 and 1905, J.C. Burrow took a series of photographs, both on surface and underground. In the photo above, the student is lighting a safety fuse at 40 fathom level.   Copies of Burrows photographs can be bought from the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro.  The technical aspects of the photography is explained in the book about King Edward Mine by Tony Brooks and John Watton, available in the museum shop.

Camborne School of Mines Students learning rock-drilling-King Edward Mine Camborne School of Mines Students learning rock-drilling at King Edward Mine early 20th century

King Edward was completely re-equipped, both on surface and underground, with modern machinery reflecting what was then considered the best Cornish practice.


For a small college like Camborne School of Mines to take on a mine on this scale was a massive undertaking and is probably unprecidented in mining education. The re-equiping started almost immediately in 1897, and the School purchased a Holman Bros comprssor, capable of driving two rock-drills.  A new Survey office was built, and a new head-frame erected above Engine Shaft.The Califorian Stamps were purchased from Fraser & Chalmers in 1900 and a new building constructed around them.


Students were soon drawn not just from Cornwall and the UK but from the world over.  Camborne became, and still is, one of the best known mining colleges in the world.

CSM Students in the Survey office King Edward Mine 1921 CSM Students using the Survey Office at King Edward Mine 1921

This  silent film was made by CSM surveying students. Their inventiveness and humour is brillant. It must pre-date 1934 becauese the headframe was taken down in that year.  Can anyone date this by other changes?  Bearing in mind that this was at least 20 years before the invention of the digital computer , these students were well ahead of the game.....

Until 1974, mining education was on two sites; lectures & some laboratory work were carried out in the buildings in the centre of Camborne and most practical work at King Edward Mine.


In 1974 the School moved to specially built premises at Trevenson that lies mid-way between Camborne and Redruth. Much of the mining and mineral processing teaching formerly carried out at King Edward was transferred to Trevenson. However, KEM was still used for some practical underground & surface surveying and also mining training.

International Mining Games at King Edward Mine CSM student training for International Mining Games at King Edward Mine 2018

In 2005 CSM moved to the new university campus at Tremough, which is just outside Penryn.


The links between King Edward Mine with CSM continue, as the CSM teams for International Mining Games practice regularly at King Edward Mine (their permanent home).

40th International Mining Games 2018 Poster for 40th International Mining Games 2018

In 2018, the 40th International Mining Games were held on site.  CSM Men's A won the competion and Womens A were second.   The Games plan to return to King Edward Mine, perhaps in 2024.

We are now closed for the winter.  However join us for Festive Music on Sunday 8th Dec.


You would be welcom to come and volunteer on Wednesdays or Sundays or we will see you in 2020.

See all the videos of Californian Stamps, Holman Winder and unique Cornish Rag Frames on our Youtube Channel

Visit the Croust Hut Cafe

 Croust Hut Cafe is open all year.

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© 2019 King Edward Mine Museum Registered Charity Number 1149801 KING EDWARD MINE LTD Trustees David Ager (Chair), David Burkitt, Maureen Gilbert, Peter Sheppard, Graham Sowell