A return to the boom years for the heart of Cornwall
Camborne is changing. A town with an enviable history of industrial engineering excellence and once the richest mining area in the world, it suffered a slump with the demise of mining at the end of the last century. But Camborne is now enjoying a renaissance, another period of growth and regeneration.
In the last few years – particularly after becoming a Business Improvement District – it has become a destination for both locals and visitors with lots to offer all tastes and budgets. Premier Inn and Wetherspoons have invested in Camborne by building sizeable hotels and the two long established independent hotels, Tyacks and Lowenac, have risen to the challenge renovating and upgrading their premises.
As a shopping centre, Camborne’s got everything from independent shops selling individual and specialist products to many high street chainstore favourites. The top end of Trelowarren Street, closest to Tesco, is becoming an arts, crafts and hobbies area with businesses selling a range of goods from fabrics to scented candles and paper craft to student art. People have travelled from as far away as Tasmania to visit the model shop, Kernow Railway Centre (which is arguably the best in the country and even commissions its own ‘Cornish’ products) whilst Reloved Cornwall is an exquisite shabby chic boutique full of beautiful up-cycled furniture, quality DIY restoration accessories and irresistible contemporary gifts. It’s also one of the few shops allowed to sell prestigious Annie Sloane Chalk Paint.
For ‘foodies’, Camborne is fast becoming a standout place to eat, snack and shop. Dax Deli in Trelowarren Street is a leading player in Camborne’s rich, varied and growing cafe culture offering amazing cakes, pastries and sandwiches to eat in or take away, alongside cheeses, charcuterie and specialist products from Italy, Portugal and Spain. The range rivals the best any London deli can offer and by Easter there will be a bistro in the back of the shop.
Every Friday (except during January) there’s a traditional market in the town square. Two rows of stalls stacked with local produce including vegetables, bread, homemade pies and cakes, locally reared meat, fresh flowers, locally caught fish and shellfish, cheeses made from Cornish milk, jams, chutneys and sauces, skincare and craft products – all made within a few miles of the town. And it’s not just the products that sell this market – the warmth and passion of the stallholders is a joy to behold.
There’s an eclectic mix of restaurants in town with outstanding Tripadvisor reviews and menus to suit every palate and purse, from the Asian heat and spice of Thai in Town and authentic Portuguese flavours of Algarve Delicacies in Cross Street to the rich flavours of The Italian, a restaurant tucked away in an alleyway off Trelowarren Street and run by a Sardinian family who’ve created their own region of Italy in the heart of Camborne.
Although moving forwards, the town still honours its mining past with its most famous son being Richard Trevithick whose work with high pressure steam changed the world. One of his many inventions was the first full-scale steam locomotive and his ‘Puffing Devil’ (the first passenger carrying road vehicle and forerunner of the car) made its maiden journey in Camborne on Christmas Eve 1801. Working alongside Trevithick were Camborne blacksmiths, the Holman Brothers. Reacting to a rapidly expanding mining industry they branched out into all forms of mining machinery and quickly became a leading international manufacturer of drills and tools – and Camborne’s major employer. The population swelled and the riches below ground brought huge prosperity to those living above.
Camborne is now part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site and is surrounded by visitor attractions celebrating its history. Heartlands, once part of South Crofty Mine, is now a rich cultural area with botanical gardens, an adventure playground, art studios, heritage exhibitions and markets. Nearby King Edward Mine is the oldest complete mine site in the world, East Pool Mine is famed for its towering beam engines and the Great Flat Lode (lode is the Cornish word for mineral vein) is two miles long and still home to a large number of old mine buildings. To complement these attractions there is a heritage trail within the town centre – twelve sites of historic significance to discover and enjoy.
Perhaps one of Camborne’s greatest advantages is its geographical position in the centre of West Cornwall. With a wide selection of sandy beaches, hidden villages, rugged cliff tops walks, ancient country parks and hotspot seaside resorts like St Ives and Falmouth all within half an hour’s drive, it’s a perfect base for exploration.
Camborne really is a revelation so why not come and visit? With so much on offer, you won’t be disappointed.