© Cornish Mexican Cultural Society

Building on Cornwall's International Heritage

The Cornish Mexican Cultural Society

Sociedad Cultural Cornish Mexicana

In 1825 a band of 60 Cornishmen set sail from Falmouth, on the south coast of Cornwall,  to seek their fortunes in the new world. On board was 1,500 tons of mining machinery.

They were leaving a Cornwall enjoying a booming mining industry and planned to travel to Real del Monte, deep in the Mexican interior, to use their skills and technology to rescue its ailing silver mining industry.

These prime Mexican mines had suffered years of neglect because of the war of independence which had been raging through Mexico.

It was to be a difficult journey for many reasons.

Following the long sea voyage they tried to put into port in Mexico, only to find that it was held by the Spanish.

They were forced to land the machinery on the beach at Mocambo and then haul it through jungle and swamp to their first depot at Santa Fe.

This was just the first of many setbacks - recorded faithfully by John Buchanan, an engineer in the party who kept a diary of the journey.

Hardships and triumphs

It is largely because of the diary that we are able to follow their hardships and triumphs today.

During this haul through the jungle, the 'sickly season' started and both the Cornishmen and their Mexican helpers fell victim to the ravages of Yellow Fever. Thirty Cornish and 100 Mexicans died of the fever, forcing the survivors to abandon their equipment and head inland up into the mountains to Xalapa to try and escape the mosquitoes until the end of the rainy season.

It was three months before they were able to return to continue transporting the machinery and progress was painfully slow because they had to build their own road as they went.

It took them 14 months to travel just 250 miles - no wonder Mexicans call it 'The Great Trek'.

On May 1st 1826, they finally entered Real del Monte, the highest town in Mexico at 10,000 feet above sea level.

As engineer John Buchanan reported in his diary: "After great labour and many accidents we conquered this great ascent and our convoy proceeded on our last stage to deposit its valuable cargo in Real del Monte".

The Legacy

The Cornish community flourished and stayed for the best part of a century - until the Mexican revolution in 1910.

They have never been forgotten according to Cornish descendant Ricardo Ludlow.

Cornish pasty - Mexican style! And they have left other legacies than just mining technology...

They bake as many pasties here as in the whole of Cornwall, albeit spiced up for the Mexican palette, and it is said that the first game of Mexican soccer was played in the yard of the Dolores Mine!

Cornish miners football team in Mexico.

Panteon Seven hundred Cornish men and women are buried in the cemetery overlooking Real del Monte a