Cornish history: mining, pasties & wrestling

Robynne Sanderson in Cornwall. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

Broken Hill Historical Society is preparing to hold its next meeting next Monday ahead of the Heritage Festival weekend.

The April 11 meeting will highlight Broken Hill’s Cornish heritage and culture and feature guest speaker Robynne Sanderson.

Robynne is a local historian and former Broken Hill Citizen of the Year who has Cornish forebears. She plans to speak on ‘The Cornish in Broken Hill, then and now.’

The Cornish were a significant cultural group in the early days of Broken Hill and part of the multicultural tapestry that has continued to enrich this city.

They are strongly connected with Broken Hill’s mining heritage but have contributed to the life of Broken Hill in many other ways.


Robynne’s talk will look at the mining connection and a cross-section of Cornish people and culture—from streets named after Cornish people to some of the quirkier aspects such as Cornish wrestling.

Robynne previously worked in the mining industry as a computer programmer at the Zinc Corporation.

She presented a paper about Cornish musicians of Broken Hill at the Biennial History Seminar of the ‘Kernewek Lowender’ Cornish Festival in 2017 and is also a member of the Cornish Association of South Australia.

Last year, Robynne received the Paul Smales Medal (an international award) from the ‘Gorsedh Kernow,” a group promoting Cornish culture outside Cornwall.

Having started last year learning Cornish, a Celtic language, Robynne will begin her presentation with some words in Cornish to acknowledge the Indigenous heritage of this region.

This may be the first time that an Acknowledgement of Country will be spoken in Cornish in Australia, even though a written Acknowledgement of Country has been included in the program at Celtic festivals such as Kernewek Lowender in the Moonta, SA.

Do you have Cornish ancestors or one of the many Cornish surnames? Come along to the Society’s next General Meeting on Monday at 7:30pm to learn more about Broken Hill’s Cornish heritage.

The meeting will be held in the Centre for Community on Beryl Street (opposite Aruma Lodge).

Visitors, whether passing through for Easter, Heritage Weekend, school holidays or the Mundi Mundi Bash are very welcome.

To learn more about Robynne’s knowledge of Broken Hill’s Cornish heritage and her life, visit Society’s website at

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