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Saturday, March 7, 1998 Published at 14:09 GMT


Last Cornish tin mine gets rousing send-off
image: [ Marchers show support for tin miners in 1997 ]
Marchers show support for tin miners in 1997

David Sillito reports from South Crofty for BBC News 24 (3' 54")
A day after holding a "funeral" for Europe's last tin mine, Cornwall's mining community has come together again to celebrate its culture.

Brass bands led miners and members of the close-knit community to mark the end of Cornwall's 4,000-year mining heritage.

The event was attended by hundreds of local people. Many said they wanted to see a regional development agency for Cornwall and increased local decision-making.

[ image: Last shift for miners at South Crofty]
Last shift for miners at South Crofty
A choir and crowds of people waving black and white Cornish flags in the rain gathered outside the South Crofty works on Friday to mark its closure just over a month after the government refused to help fund a rescue package.

The same flags led a march to London last summer to commemorate the 500th anniversary of a Cornish demonstration against unfair taxes.

Organisers hope Saturday's parade, described as a march of hope and celebration to remember thousands of years of mining history, will become an annual event.

Hopes dashed ... then raised

Grim-faced miners were brought to the surface for the last time from the 2,600ft deep pit near Redruth on Friday to the prospect of finding work in one of the country's worst unemployment blackspots.

They took off their helmets and waterproof gear in a pit head changing room festooned with dozens of messages from wellwishers.

[ image:
"Ceremony will be a silent vigil - no words can express this"
Some said that the final closure of the mine had relieved tension that had built up over the last few months during which hopes were first dashed then raised again.

One ray of hope for the 166 miners is the news that the European Commission had promised £1m funding new jobs in the area.

Cornwall and West Plymouth MEP Robin Teverson said the aid could be used for "fast track" applications to create new jobs, meaning projects could be approved quickly.

[ image:
"I was born and brought up beside the tin mine - it's a very sad day"
Falmouth and Camborne MP Candy Atherton said the Employment Service was working with miners looking at alternative employment.

Right up to the end it had been hoped that a mystery UK company with mining interests would make an 11th hour bid to save South Crofty. But there was no concrete proposal.

The pumps that kept the mine dry will be turned off on Friday, March 13, after equipment has been brought to the surface and the workings secured. Any last ditch rescue would realistically have to happen before that date.

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06 Mar 98†|†UK
Silent vigil for Europe's last tin mine

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Cornish mining history

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