Cornwall Industrial Settlements Initiative


Cornwall’s historical industrial settlements were the subject of a Conservation Area Partnership called the Cornwall Industrial Settlements Initiative (CISI) undertaken between 1998-2004. This partnership between English Heritage (with the Heritage Lottery Fund), Cornwall County Council, and the District Councils assessed the character and significance of 50 of the County’s industrial settlements. These included villages, ports and towns associated with Cornwall’s 19th century industrial revolution, based on metalliferous mining, slate and granite quarrying, and china clay extraction. The historic importance and distinctive character of such settlements has previously been undervalued, and their existing status does not adequately represent the industrial history of the county. CISI was aimed at redressing this imbalance.

Project aims

CISI produced a settlement by settlement analysis in order to obtain an overview of the history, present character and importance of Cornwall’s industrial settlements. This helps determine where, for example, new Conservation Areas should be designated (and existing ones revised), and could provide the basis for Conservation Area Statements (to be drawn up subsequently by District Conservation Officers).

Many of the settlements fall within the area of the Cornwall & West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site. The WHS areas include the full range of 18th-20th century mining landscape components, including the settlements that were created or rapidly expanded as a result of mining and its associated industries. All mining settlements are of significance to the World Heritage Site – those that fall within the WHS areas are covered by the WHS Management Plan, while those that fall outside these areas form part of the context for the World Heritage Site and need to be sensitively managed in the light of this.

Project methodology

The methodology involved historical research, followed by a site visit(s). For the historical research, a date range of 1750 to 1945 was chosen, as this represented the period of industrial growth and decline in Cornwall. Archaeological and historical sources housed at CCC were consulted, together with Listed Building data supplied by the District Councils. Using this information, Ordnance Survey base maps were used to show: the different phases of historical development; surviving historic components from each development phase; archaeological sites, key historic buildings, and statutory designations. These maps, together with copies of the primary sources consulted, were bound into a folder for each settlement, for use during site visits.

The focus of the site visits was to assess settlement character and consider ways in which this could be protected and enhanced in the future. This was achieved using a checklist drawn from Conservation Area Practice: English Heritage’s guidance on the management of Conservation Areas (1995) and Conservation Area Management – A Practical Guide (published by the English Towns Forum, 1998). The maps compiled during the historical phase were enhanced during the site visits, particularly with information relating to the survival and significance of historic buildings, and a general photographic record (colour prints) was made of each settlement. Meetings on site were arranged with the District Conservation Officers in order to discuss current initiatives and recommendations for future management.


The settlement studies are available as Adobe PDF downloads comprising the main report text and illustrative map figures, varying in number from settlement to settlement. You may need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the PDF downloads offered on these webpages. Download a free copy by clicking the link below.