Presented by: Bob Colley
Review written by: Rory O’Brien
Full credit to Robert for volunteering to give this talk after the arranged speaker cancelled at the last minute.
Robert explained that the name, Lizard, originated from the weathered rock’s appearance being similar to a lizard’s skin. Geologically, the Lizard Peninsula is comprised of hard rocks of the of the earth’s old oceanic crust. It is comprised of Serpentinites, Gabbro, intrusive Dolerites, Peridotite and Schists. The ancient rocks latched onto the edge of the UK at the time that the former continent of Pangea was coming together.
Minerals associated with the ancient rocks include; Tin, Copper, Clay and Serpentinite. These have been mined and quarried in Cornwall over the centuries. Serpentinite was quarried in the area from 1840. An 1846 Royal visit to Penzance gave the industry a boost as orders for the stone increased. Demand for fonts, large vases and decorative veneers increased again after the 1851 Great Exhibition. At that time local employment increased and new factories were developed.
By the 1860s competition with imported marble slowed down the previous high demand. Also, the Serpentinite tended to weather rapidly, possibly as a result of air pollution in cities such as London and further north. By the 1890s all of the factories had closed down and today only a few small workshops remain. These remaining workshops produce small ornaments such as lighthouses for sale to visitors to England’s most southerly mainland headland.