Author Michael T. Kiernan.                                 ISBN 978-1-716-46552-9. Cornwall, Redruth. 2020.          Pages 208. Illustrations 32. Paperback. A5.

See below for the books Introduction, Contents & List of Illustrations. See Index of all those individuals who are mentioned in the book. See Reviews (the original version of the book won an Awen Medal awarded by the Gorsedh Kernow in 2016). You will find  on the page Extra items about Pontgibaud which do not appear in the book.


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When my wife and I first stumbled across the burial ground in the beautiful town of Pontgibaud, in the Puy de Dôme in the Auvergne Department of France, we were amazed to find a section devoted to the foreign engineers who had worked the local mines in the last half of the nineteenth century and were instantly fascinated by the names recorded on the memorials, the vast majority of which were distinctly from Cornwall. I wanted to know more about these people and the mines they worked.                                                                                                                                                                                                       
Writing in 1937, Thomas A. Rickard, himself a descendant of the Cornish engineers of Pontgibaud and one of the great mining historians, wrote that “a mine is much more than a hole in the ground.” Unravelling the history of the mines of Pontgibaud in central France involves not just exploring a hole in the ground, it involves the researching of three strands - the technical aspects of the underground and surface works; the complex financial affairs; and, above all, an understanding of the lives and adventures of the intrepid miners and the community they worked in.
This work is an attempt to untangle those strands and then weave them together in a pattern. It has been researched and presented from a Cornish aspect rather than that of the host community whose involvement with the mines was, of course, greater than that of their guests. I have attempted to record a timeline of the progress of the mines during the ‘Cornish’ era and then delve deeper into the Cornish family histories. The sections reconstructing family histories are relentless in recording births, marriages and deaths and known family vital records and it deliberately strays geographically and time wise and spatially from Pontgibaud. The Cornish mining engineers were accompanied by their wives and children and virtually all had originated from an isolated area in Cornwall in the far south west of England. The record of who and why they were there, their activities over several decades and eventual dispersal provides a fascinating insight into not only an early example of entente cordiale, but is also an exemplar of the history of an expatriate mining community.                                                  
I have little knowledge of the French language and so without the skills and patience of my wife, Juliet, I would have made little progress in my researches and this work would not have been possible.                                                                           Very special thanks must go to the wonderful citizens of Pontgibaud. In particular Mme Janine Fleurat who lives in a house once occupied by one of the engineers and who has spent many years studying the mines and miners and who is a leading light behind the Association La Route des Mines Dômes-Combrailles. Mme Fleurat kindly passed to me invaluable copies of historic documents. This lady’s enthusiasm, knowledge and empathy qualifies her to be regarded as a special friend to the people of Cornwall. I must also thank Roland Fleurat, the husband of Janine for his generosity towards his wife’s passion and their joint enjoyment of sharing is special.
Located at the Château Dauphin is the Musée de la Mine. We are indebted to Mme de Germiny, the Comtesse of Pontgibaud who together with her charming husband, the Comte de Pontgibaud, kindly guided us around that mining museum and allowed a tour of the Chateau, their home.   
I am also indebted to Mme Armandine Didier who was my first contact in Pontgibaud and was responsible for introducing me to invaluable French census records.
The staff at the Mairie at Pontgibaud were most helpful and friendly.
It is inevitable that in a study that includes attempts to reconstruct family histories mistakes will be made. I am alone responsible for such errors.

France Contents
France IIlustrations