The Godolphin Bal Maidens, by Lynne Mayers, subtitled 'Women and girls at the mines of the Mount's Bay area'
Booklet published by Blaize Bailey Books in 2010, 24 pages. Booklet - c.15cm by 22.5cm (N5864)
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 (Dolcoath mine) closed, bringing the tradition to an end.
From the rear side cover: This book records the life and work of the women and girls who worked at the mines and clay works in the Godolphin area, covering the eight parishes of Breage, Crowan, Germoe, Helston, Marazion, Perranuthnoe, St Hilary and Sithney. Although overshadowed by its more famous neighbour (the central mining district around Carn Brea), this area was at the forefront of mining technology long before other areas were developed. It was the home of the first extensive deep mines, and also of the largest tin mine ever opened in Cornwall. As a result it was probably the first to employ women and girls on the dressing floors in large numbers. While most of the women and girls here were employed dressing tin, others were engaged in smaller numbers preparing copper, lead, soapstone and clay.
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.