Why Cornish

 
John Dowling and Louis Bauress have been extensively exploring the possibility of creating a Cornish banjo for many years. As a professional banjo player and joiner respectively they have both noticed some extraordinary links between the banjo and Cornwall.
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The tone ring on the banjo, the large metal ring that the head is pulled over, is generally considered to be the most important part of the banjo’s sound. It is traditionally and most successfully made from Bell Bronze metal, an alloy of tin and copper. Coincidentally, Cornwall is known around the globe as the tin and copper mining capital of the world. It is recognised and protected by UNESCO, the same organisation conserving the Great Wall of China. By the mid 1800’s Cornwall alone was producing over half the world’s tin and copper from around 3000 mines in the one county.
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The mines employed whole families. The men and boys would work underground whilst the women and girls would work on the surface. The Bal Maidens, as they were called, had to crush the rock from underground with 14lb hammers. The long handled shovels that the miners and Bal Maidens used were known as ‘Banjo shovels’.
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When the mines closed towards the end of the 19th Century Cornwall no longer exported metals but began exporting miners. At one time 1000 miners left Cornwall each week and travelled all around the world in the search for work. Many of these went in great numbers to America to work in the coal mines of the Appalachians, in some cases occupying whole towns. Coincidentally again, this was where the founders of Bluegrass music developed their style several years later. 
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Banjo Cottage. A self-catering holiday house in St. Just.

www.banjocottage.com