An Early Tube Boat Canal

A Place in History: NarrowBoat, Winter 2010

Colin Bristow

Colin Bristow rediscovers the 18th century Carclaze–Scredda canal system in Cornwall

Before St Austell in Cornwall became associated with the china clay industry, it was an important metalliferous mining area, and was the location of some early canals. From the Bronze Age up to the 18th century the predominant metal produced was tin. The heavy tin mineral cassiterite was pulverised in ‘stamps’ driven by waterwheels, then separated by allowing it to settle out in a fast flowing stream of water. This carried away the lighter materials, a technique known as ‘tin streaming’. Large quantities of water were required, so the ‘tin streamers’ became adept at building leats to supply water, sometimes from many miles away. It was thus only a small step to make these leats sufficiently wide and deep to take small boats.Carclaze Old Tin Pit In the late 18th and early 19th century Carclaze Old Tin Pit, near Scredda just north of St Austell, was famous, and drew visitors from all over Europe. It was a ‘must see’ for the intellectuals …

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