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Jabez Maynard

(c.1867–1928) – Wolfram mine company secretary

A specimen of wolframite and quartz was gifted to the Royal Institution of Cornwall in 1916 by Jabez Maynard (front, second from right), the company secretary at East Pool Mine. Wolfram or tungsten was essential to the war effort as it was used to harden steel; it therefore became a high value by-product of many Cornish mines.

Credit: Royal Institution of Cornwall, Truro and East Pool Mine (National Trust)

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In the years leading up to the First World War, East Pool Mine was one of the largest working mines in Cornwall and a significant local employer. In addition to tin and copper, the main output from East Pool was tungsten.

Tungsten is an extremely hard metal and is primarily sourced from the mineral wolframite, which was extracted from mines across Cornwall and Devon.  Until the mid-19th century it was treated as just another troublesome impure mineral or waste product.  The value of tungsten was only appreciated when its useful properties (when alloyed with other metals) were fully understood.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Germany was leading the way in the development and manufacture of steel hardened with tungsten and even purchased tungsten from Britain. The strategic value of tungsten was becoming apparent.

As the threat of war increased, the export of tungsten to Germany was stopped.  Domestic demand rose quickly with the onset of war, reflecting its use in the manufacture of munitions. Tungsten rapidly became a high-value metal for East Pool Mine.

A specimen of wolframite and quartz was donated to the Royal Institution of Cornwall in 1916 by Jabez F. Maynard, the Company Secretary at East Pool during the war years. The specimen came from Roger’s Lode underground at East Pool Mine, a lode known to be extremely rich in tungsten.

Key words: home front, mining

Credit: Royal Institution of Cornwall, Truro and East Pool Mine (National Trust)