Bal Maidens of the St Just Peninsula, by Lynne Mayers, subtitled 'Women and girls at the mines of West Cornwall'
Booklet published by Blaize Bailey Books in 2014, 38 pages. Booklet - c.15cm by 22.5cm (N5866)
A bal maiden is the term used to describe a female manual labourer working in the mining industries of Cornwall, and is taken from the Cornish language word for mine, which is ‘bal’. The term was first used in the early 1700’s, and at its peak it is thought tens of thousands of women and girls were working in the Cornish mining industry. With the decline in the Cornish mining industry, female labour in the industry also declined, and by the late 19th century the number of bal maidens had fallen to half its peak. By the outbreak of the First World War very few remained in employment, and in 1921 the last mine that employed bal maidens closed, bringing the tradition to an end.
From the rear side cover: The St Just Peninsula was one of the most important mining areas in Cornwall. In the 19th century it was second only to the Central Mining District in total copper and tin production, which also reflected the number of women and girls employed at the mines there. This booklet gives glimpses of the lives of the bal maidens, from the late 18th century up until the second World War. Approximate numbers employed are given over time, as well as descriptions of their tasks and working environment. There is a dedicated chapter on the women and girls who worked at Levant Mine in the parish of St Just, and Ding Dong Mine on the boundary of the parishes of Madron and Gulval.
The booklet is illustrated throughout with several small black and white photographs and drawings.
The condition of the booklet is generally excellent. The covers are clean and bright, the staple spine is intact, and all pages are clean, intact, unblemished and tightly bound. There is a small price sticker on the rear side cover.