Herodsfoot Audio Trail
Herodsfoot lies in a steep sided valley carved out by a river and undisturbed by the last Ice Age. The killas rock here holds lodes of galena, an ore containing lead and silver. From at least the C17th these were mined by digging sideways into the hillsides, a practice known as adit mining. By the C19th the mines had gone underground: first water then steam power were used to work the pumps and lifts.
For about 20 years the mines were highly productive, but by the end of the century they had run down. The characteristics of the valley made it suitable for the production of explosives. The forest provided a supply of charcoal, an ingredient of traditional explosive.
The wooded steep valley absorbed the impact of explosions – a regular occurrence – with little damage to other property. The original owners of the East Cornwall Gunpowder Company were quakers and, being pacifists, they only sold their product for industrial use. Herodsfoot explosives were transported around Britain until production stopped in 1965.
For a century Herodsfoot was alive with industry and a church was built, but when production ceased the hamlet returned to its agricultural identity.