Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 137,332 pages of information and 220,558 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Cosawes Gunpowder Mills

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of Cosawes, near Truro

1809 The business was established by Frank Nicholls and Henry Gill, the first manufacturer of gunpowder in Cornwall. Grinding mills were turned by a stream and a surrounding wood gave a plentiful supply of timber and hence charcoal.

1813 Nicholls withdrew from the partnership

Gill later sold the business to the proprietor of a rival Cornish group at nearby Kennall, Benjamin Sampson, soon to be joined by Richard Lanyon.

Thereafter both mills continued to expand their business, despite frequent fires and explosions. In addition to supplying explosives for mining purposes, they made considerable quantities of powder for sporting use.

After c.1870 Cosawes took second place to Kennall, becoming relegated to the role of store and magazine.

c.1880 The growth of the dynamite industry spelt the end for Cornish gunpowder.

1898 the Kennall Vale Gunpowder Co was acquired by Curtis's and Harvey.

The Cosawes works never manufactured gunpowder again.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Archives of the British chemical industry, 1750-1914: a handlist. By Peter J. T. Morris and Colin A. Russell. Edited by John Graham Smith. 1988.