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Window Display January 2017

posted Jan 12, 2017, 2:17 AM by Lostwithiel Museum   [ updated Jan 12, 2017, 2:20 AM ]
Our latest window display depicts the links between Cornwall and Mexico, concentrating on how the making of Cornish Pasties was exported to Mexico.

In Mexico in the 1820s the silver mines of Pachuca and Real were derelict and flooded after the bloody war for independence.  The new government was keen to see them reopen, and in 1824 the main Hidalgo mines were sold to a group of London investors, the "Company of Gentlemen Adventurers in the Mines of Real del Monte", who immediately began recruiting miners and engineers in Cornwall who were famed as the most skilful hard-mineral miners in the world.

The first Cornish contingent was 130 men, women and children who sailed out in spring 1825, with the finest mining technology of the day – Cornish steam beam engines.  They reached Veracruz in yellow fever season, which killed many within a few weeks.

It took a year for the survivors to cover the 400km to Real del Monte, dragging their great iron engines by mule or rope through jungles and over mountains.

After 25 years, the Gentlemen Adventurers sold out to a Mexican company, which continued to rely on the Cornish to run its mines. For decades, Cornish miners were recruited through the same local and family networks.  They also set up their own enterprises, none more so than Frank (or Don Francisco) Rule, the "Silver King" of Pachuca, who arrived in 1853, aged 17.  Specialising in rediscovering old abandoned mines, he became immensely rich, and left a permanent mark on Pachuca.

Unable to live without proper pasties, the first miners even introduced turnips, previously unknown in Mexico, and Cornish wives taught pasty-making to their maids.

Real del Monte now has the world's only pasty museum, the Museo del Paste, which tells the story of the Cornish and the pasty in Hidalgo, and every year a 3 day festival is held celebrating the Cornish Pasty.
It recently had a visit from Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.