GALLERY PROFILE: The Little Picture Gallery, Mousehole

As dreams go Judy and Paul Joel’s desire to run their own gallery was simple enough and one that many artists can relate to, but few pursue. The two former BBC employees, and artists in the their own right, made the momentous decision eight years ago whilst on holiday in the Maldives.

Mousehole Wharf

Mousehole Wharf – Judy Joel

Judy and Paul have created a haven of art, hidden, but not too hidden, in the streets of Mousehole The Little Picture Gallery. The works exhibited are a wide mix of representational, traditional, naïve and idiosyncratic.

The gallery’s two floors almost overflow with the creative endeavours of those whose works Judy and Paul have chosen to display.

Sitting behind the till area Judy can be found at work on her own paintings. Colourful images of places visited, lived in and people observed, her work shares pride of place with many other colourful displays produced by friends and family.

It is not just Judy producing beautiful pieces of work, husband Paul produces stunning photographic images, daughter Bethany uses textiles in her creative work and son Tim paints images based on his life in Thailand and Taiwan.

Judy Joel of the Little Picture Gallery

Judy Joel of the Little Picture Gallery

Judy ackowledges that her being an artist and her dream of having her own gallery have had an effect on everyone in the family: “They have lived with my dream of having my own gallery – all their lives, and I dare say that the ‘Art’ they have been surrounded with all their lives has coloured their own lives too…and the directions they went in.”

Of course the works on offer at the gallery are not just a family affair, but there are many friends and acquaintances with works upon the gallery’s walls.

With fresh ideas and new artists in addition to those better known names, the gallery is exciting and fun to visit.

 

Want to see more like this?

Subscribe to myCornwall magazine here for the very best of Cornwall’s food, culture, events, art, heritage, personalities and places.

A History of Cornish Village Heredsfoot

Pete London explores the history behind one of Cornwall’s often overlooked villages

The tiny village of Herodsfoot has existed since the Middle Ages, nestled in the West Looe valley around four miles south-west of Liskeard.  Described by the Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman as “an inland Polperro,” today it’s a placid place surrounded by quiet woodland, ideal for exploring.  But the little community has a remarkable, wide-ranging past.

Legend has it the village name originates from the visit long ago of a local giant named Herod, who created the spot with one stamp of his great boot.  The probable explanation though is a derivation from Herodsfoot’s setting ‘at the foot of the long hill,’ originally from the Cornish ‘Nanshiryarth,’ ‘Hirgarth’ or ‘Hyr-Garth.’  By the early seventeenth century it was known as Herryotsfoote, and later Herods Foote, before its present name.

Herodsfoot

View across the old mill pond once used by the East Cornwall Powder Company, which now forms part of the Deerpark Cabins forest retreat.

Farming, cider apple orchards and a deer park provided most of the local work; for hundreds of years the population stayed at a little over 100 people. Early on during Britain’s Civil War, in January 1643 just four miles to the north-west, the Battle of Braddock Down took place, which secured Cornwall for the Royalists.  It’s doubtful though whether the isolated villagers knew much about either battle or the wider war, though they may have heard the fire from musketry and cannon.

During 1850 Herodsfoot’s Church of All Saints was completed. Designed by the Diocese of Exeter’s architect John Hayward, All Saints was built overlooking the village, heavily buttressed with a sharply pitched roof.  The following year the parish of Herodsfoot was created from parts of surrounding Duloe, Lanreath and St Pinnock.  The new parish marked a fresh chapter in local life for by then, in relative terms Herodsfoot was transforming into a boom-town.

Herodsfoot

Bournonite sample label from the British Museum citing Herodsfoot and Richard Talling, dated 1872.

Above the huddle of cottages, for centuries small scale adit mining of lead and silver deposits had taken place; ore-bearing lodes found in the surrounding hillsides were burrowed into, mainly just east at Herodscombe.  But nineteenth century steam technology used for drainage allowed vertical, ever deeper mine shafts, as the prized metals were relentlessly pursued.  Around 1802 the North Herodsfoot mine began work, using water-wheels at first but later adapted to accommodate steam power.

By the 1850s a second mine known simply as Herodsfoot was underway south of the village; run by shrewd Captain Thomas Trevillion from Camborne, it was one of Cornwall’s most profitable.  A 40 inch beam pumping engine was installed, changed during 1864 for a more powerful 60 inch example.  As the Herodsfoot mine prospered it became the main operation, digging to a depth of just under a thousand feet, and the old North Herodsfoot workings slowly ran down.  A further site, small South Herodsfoot mine, was opened at the edge of nearby Pendruffle Woods.  Herodsfoot’s lead ore was some of the richest in the country, and business thrived until the mid-1880s.  At its peak, the village’s mining industry employed well over 300 men.

Miners arrived from as far afield as Liskeard; some walked in daily, others took lodgings in Herodsfoot’s cottages or the surrounding hamlets.  By the 1870s around 500 people lived locally.  A blacksmith’s forge appeared, together with a new bakery and a butcher’s shop.  Counterpointing the arrival of the church, to cater for the miners’ less spiritual needs, several cider and beer houses opened including the sleazy Royal Oak, together with a brothel.  For the villagers, after their tranquil solitude, the change must have felt like a descent into bedlam, the mines racket echoing round the valley, foul smoke belching from black-mouthed stacks.

During the mid-nineteenth century, another industry arrived: a gunpowder mill.  The local woods had long seen small scale production of charcoal and in 1845 at the old works west of Herodsfoot, the East Cornwall Gunpowder Company began business.  Since one of the ingredients of gunpowder is charcoal, the venture was off to a flying start.  East Cornwall  Gunpowder Company was founded with financial support from the Quaker community, its purpose commercial rather than warlike, and made use of water power from the nearby river.

The concern was managed by the Isaac family, who had run Herodsfoot’s old charcoal business.  With a ready demand from the area’s mines, trade flourished in blasting powder and fuses while a local sideline grew in making barrels to store the gunpowder.  During the 1850s the company established a second site: Trago Mills, situated in the woods of that name five miles outside Liskeard.

Herodsfoot

Herodsfoot photographed during the early twentieth century.

Herodsfoot’s East Cornwall works was built in a wooded valley intended to provide some screening protection in case of accidental explosion, a danger inherent at that time in making gunpowder products.  Understandably, safety at the site was a vital concern but despite precautions, several grim accidents occurred.  In May 1850 the local newspaper dolefully reported a huge explosion ‘which afforded a grand but awful evidence of the tremendous power of gunpowder…a spectacle of devastation and wreck such as our readers will be totally unable to conjure up in their imaginations.’  Amazingly, though much of the site was flattened in the accident, only two men died.  During October 1857 a further detonation again destroyed the mill, when four men were killed.  Shock waves were felt as far away as Liskeard and Lostwithiel.

Yet another misfortune happened on 12th May 1876.  A chain of explosions began with merely a spark from a workman’s mallet hitting a grain of grit, and spread to an incorporating mill used for grinding the gunpowder’s ingredients into particles: charcoal, saltpetre and sulphur.  Almost every building on the site was destroyed or severely damaged, but only three men died.  Hardly had the factory recovered when in October of the same year a second blast occurred; that time, two men were killed.  Despite the terrible explosion, the site was always rebuilt and went on to achieve a remarkable longevity.

Herodsfoot

Herodsfoot bournonite mineral sample, set amongst white quartz.

Lead and silver weren’t the only treasures found at Herodsfoot.  During the 1850s and 1860s the village was visited by Richard Talling, the esteemed mineralogist born at nearby Lostwithiel in 1820.  Talling began his living as an apprentice shoemaker but developed a passion for minerals, and for much of his life ran an emporium in Lostwithiel where he sold his samples.  He travelled widely in search of new specimens but discovered two unique minerals locally, exposed by Herodsfoot’s probing mines: bournonite, a sulphide of lead, copper and antimony; and tetrahedrite, a sulphide of copper, iron and antimony which also sometimes contains silver.

It seems that in his enthusiasm the collector made a nuisance of himself at Herodsfoot, for eventually the mine manager banned him from acquiring any more samples.  He rather neatly got round his exclusion by buying shares in the mine, which allowed him to come and go as he pleased.  Talling’s Herodsfoot discoveries were his most famous achievement and samples of the two minerals were acquired by the Royal Cornwall Museum.  Today too the Natural History Museum’s Vault, a gallery containing nature’s rarest and most valuable minerals, features a huge bournonite specimen bought from Richard Talling in 1868.  No other sample of its size or quality has ever been found.

Herodsfoot

Herodsfoot is surrounded by woodland with many beautiful walks and opportunities to observe wildlife.

In 1884 Herodsfoot’s mine finally shut the books and went into liquidation, owing various monies; among the creditors were its explosive neighbours.  Miners and machinery left the village, which in the main reverted to its former peace.  During 1898 East Cornwall sold the powder mill but various companies continued its work.  The site was bought by the Safety Explosives Company in 1900, but by 1903 the concern was known as Ammonal Explosives Ltd.  During the First World War the mill was run by the Ministry of Munitions.

Herodsfoot’s most poignant feature is its stone war memorial, which stands on the small green at the centre of the village.  Erected in commemoration of the First World War, its inscription tells us that during the dreadful conflict the community was spared military fatalities.  Miraculously all thirteen local men who served in the armed forces came home safely; the inscription acknowledges the village’s ‘gratitude for their services in the Great War.’  It seems too that the Herodsfoot men who joined up during the Second World War were equally fortunate, for an addition to the original inscription reads simply: ‘In memory of all who served in 1939 – 1945.’

The few parishes which lost no men in the First World War have since become known as Thankful Villages; Herodsfoot is Cornwall’s only Thankful Village, across the length and breadth of Britain one of a mere fifty.

Today, there’s still much evidence of times past.  Ruins survive both of Herodsfoot and North Herodsfoot mines, though they’re on private land.  The old gunpowder site, finally vacated by Noble Explosives in 1965, has become the Deerpark Cabins forest retreat; several of its holiday chalets are set by the mill pond once used to power the machinery, where waterfowl now flourish.  Woods around the village provide beautiful walking and if you’re stealthy, the chance to discover wildlife: fox, stoat, roe deer, even this occasional red deer.

Herodsfoot

Herodsfoot’s village church

Each Armistice Day, a short open air remembrance service is held at the war memorial.  Community events are held throughout the year, including a summer ram roast on the green and a charity duck race using the passing stream; activities which bring together the residents and underline Herodsfoot’s enduring sense of kinship.  Size is by no means everything; the little village is well worth a visit.

The writer would like to thank Peter Taylor and Ian Savigar for their generous help in connection with this feature.

 

Further reading:

At the Foot of the Long Hill: a Story of Herodsfoot, by Sally Hall.

Sally’s book is on sale at Herodsfoot’s Church of All Saints.

 

Want to see more like this?

Subscribe to myCornwall magazine here for the very best of Cornwall’s food, culture, events, art, heritage, personalities and places.

Down by the Sea: Newlyn Harbour Design Centre

We spoke to Juliet Taylor about the appeal of the Newlyn Harbour Design Centre.

An architectural interior designer to The Houses of Parliament for 13 years, Juliet Taylor eventually felt the call of the sea too much to bear. “I’d been coming to Cornwall since the 1970s and just fell in love with surfing – I had to come back!” Such was Juliet’s love for the coast that it may even have had an impact on her creative eye, leading to the creation of the Newlyn Harbour Design Centre. The store is a hub of maritime design, located right by the sea with a refreshingly colourful range of hammocks, cushions, aprons, hats and bunting.

Newlyn Harbour Design Centre

Apart from this, the centre also offers a bespoke interior design service having already worked with a number of high-profile clients such as Bath University.

“As a member of the British Institute of Interior Design I aim to work with restaurants, hotels and offices,” explains Juliet, “but we also want to bring our contemporary and period furniture and fabrics into the home too.”

A new look won’t break the bank either – the service ranges from a complete refurbishment down to a pair of curtains which are skilfully sown by a team of local seam stresses.

Newlyn Harbour Design Centre

With a desire to be a little different, Juliet brings the popular seaside look and feel to any space in which she works. “I think there’s wonderful light in Cornwall”, she says, explaining her passion for maritime design, “it brought the Newlyn artists here and I think people just love vibrant colour.”

Visit their website at www.newlynharbourdesigncentre.com

 

Want to see more like this?

‘Down by the Sea: Newlyn Harbour Design Centre’ is taken from our Dec/Jan 2012, Vol.2 Issue 9. Subscribe to myCornwall magazine for more stories like this one.

CRAFTS: Howard Moody

A turn for the better – myCornwall talks to wood turner and craftsman Howard Moody.

Lathes and other wood carving paraphernalia sit beside a motorbike, car and other odds and ends in a large barn at the bottom of woodworker Howard Moody’s garden. It’s a bloke’s den of sorts and one that Howard spends a lot of time in and one he thoroughly enjoys working in. Living in the back of beyond, as friends describe it, Howard enjoys the piece and tranquillity the Roseland Peninsula provides.

Howard’s love affair with producing his  beautiful wood creations began in his teens after being given a lathe by his father. Although rough to begin with, his skills have grown immensely since those early days. The pieces he produces are as aesthetically pleasing to the eye as they are beautiful to the touch.

Work by Howard Moody

Work by Howard Moody

Where does he find inspiration? “I’m influenced by many different things including seed pods and leaves. I also like the process of how certain organic items decay,” Howard said by way of explaining the dramatic yet warm pieces of work on display.

Of course it’s not all decay. “I’m also influenced by erosion and the effects of weather on the world around me. The unique patterns formed by the elements.” “I rarely have a plan of how the piece of work will look when finished. It all evolves as I progress with the piece.”

Howard uses green wood when starting out on a piece. “I work in creating a form from the raw piece and then cut, turn or chisel a rough design. I then date the piece and put in on my workshop shelves to dry out thoroughly.” The works can take many months to complete and some much longer. This time delay is illustrated perfectly by the dates that appear on the works drying out on the shelves in the workshop. Some date back several years; one piece was marked 2007.

Doesn’t he get frustrated with pieces that old sitting on the shelves? “Some pieces are not meant to be completed,” Howard explains. “I get bored or what I set out to do just doesn’t form properly once I start on the piece.” So on the shelf they remain.

Once the work is formed it’s finished using natural oils such as teak or linseed. Where does he get the wood? “All the materials I use come from sustainable sources such as woodland worked by the National Trust,” says Howard. “I’m always aware of where the wood originates.”

Howard professes his love of things mechanical thus explaining why he has a copy of Ray Bacon’s BSA Twin Restoration Book on his living room table. “I love engines, motors and of course wood,” he says. “I suppose it’s a very male thing.” It’s not just his completed works that are being recognised. With much of his work on show at numerous galleries, his skills have been on display.
During the summer Howard’s skills drew audiences when he was ‘Woodworker in Residence’ at the Lost Gardens of Heligan Gardens.

Contact Howard Moody on 01872 501921

 

Want to see more like this?

Subscribe to myCornwall magazine here for the very best of Cornwall’s food, culture, events, art, heritage, personalities and places.

ARTIST PROFILE: Kate Richardson

It is obvious to all who travel across the Cornish landscape that, alongside the effects of hundreds of years of mining, the natural elements have also played a major role in forming our picturesque environment. There is something so beautiful in the shapes created by the constant wind that batters some parts of this part of the British Isles. Kate Richardson’s artworks reflect this beauty. The windswept trees, with their growth controlled by these howling winds, appear regularly within Kate’s works.

Kate Richardson - hole in the wall

Kate Richardson – hole in the wall

“I love the landscape of Cornwall. The trees, with their branches influenced by the direction of the wind, seem to reflect a particularly moody vision. One that is strong and defiant.” Talking to an enthusiastic Kate one learns that it is only recently that she has begun to focus on her art. Many artists take decades to develop a distinctive style, Kate seems to have arrived at this point in less than five years.

“I am curious about the direction of my style and gain an immeasurable satisfaction from the journey. This adventure has led me from large stormy seascapes with lonely little boats, through colourful rock faces, springtime yellow flowers and cliff tops, to little Cornish hedgerows and landscapes,” says Kate. “I never know where it will lead until I find I am drawn to a particular subject or medium for a while and realise my style has taken another twist or turn.”

“I’m self-taught. I didn’t have any formal training although I did apply to go to one art college but didn’t get accepted.” Kate explained. Her work shows that talent and a good eye for landscape is not something she needed to learn. “It may have helped with learning some techniques.”

“All my life I’ve doodled,” Kate explained when asked how she came to use art as a way of expressing herself. Kate trained in Exeter as an Occupational Therapist before moving to Cornwall. As is often the case for those who seek to earn from their art, Kate still works two days a week as an OT, but sales of her work are growing.

“People often comment that they see emotion in my work which I take as a great compliment.” Kate’s work obviously touches something within those who purchase her paintings. Sitting in my car in the yard before interviewing Kate at her home, far away from the hubbub of Cornwall’s towns, one can hear the wind through the trees.

The sound reminds me of Kate’s paintings that had caught my eye a few months prior and I think I understand why her work attracts such comments. “Now I sell through galleries I find, surprisingly to me, that my paintings are now selling on a regular basis.”

Mount of Gold - Kate Richardson

Mount of Gold – Kate Richardson

In her earlier days Kate created frames from scraps of wood and canvas and daubed her darkened colours across these, as much a reflection of life as an observation of her surrounds.  “I am drawn to certain colours depending on my mood,” said Kate. “Black, dark blues and purples when I am despondent and therefore painting dark skies and stormy seas. Turquoise, yellows and violets when life feels good, when I paint sunny flowers and beautiful rock faces.”

How does Kate work?
“I use oil in the main, but use other materials to build up textures on the canvas. I am more comfortable painting on big canvases,” says Kate showing me the varied sizes of her canvases. “I still make the larger ones.”

“Wherever I walk I see views and natural objects I’d like to paint,” explains Kate. There’s no sitting in field with an eseal, partly due to the harsh weather surrounding her subjects. I carry a camera with me everywhere so I can always record interesting sights, many end up in my work”
What do those who exhibit or purchase her work think?

“We have had the pleasure of showing Kate’s work this summer, our custormers have fallen in love with the gentle grace and beauty of her windswept Cornish Trees,” says Jayne Elliot, owner of The Summerhouse Gallery in Marazion, which exhibits many works by Kate. “She is certainly one to watch.”

 

Kate’s art can be seen at the following galleries:
The Summerhouse Gallery, Marazion
The Great Atlantic Gallery, St Just
Beyond the Sea Gallery, Padstow
There are also permanent displays at:
Land’s End Airport, Sennen and Renaissance Café, Penzance

 

Want to see more like this?

Subscribe to myCornwall magazine here for the very best of Cornwall’s food, culture, events, art, heritage, personalities and places.

            

CORNISH WILDLIFE: Bats

Jenifer Slattery shares her knowledge on bats and their associations with Cornwall.

When asked what they think of bats, most people will give you the same answer: “They’re scary.” Widely associated with Halloween, they come out at night, get stuck in your hair and suck your blood, why shouldn’t you be scared? Well the answer is that, like many other supposedly scary things, most of the terror they instil is based on myth.

Only three species of bat drink blood – none of which live in Britain – and the echolocation systems they use to navigate are far too accurate for them to get stuck in someone’s hair. In fact, aside from the fact that they have wings, bats join their other nocturnal brethren in that, other than posing the normal risks associated with wild animals, they’re actually quite fluffy and cute.

Serotine Bat, Eptesicus serotinus

Serotine Bat, Eptesicus serotinus. Photo by Hugh Clark

Cornwall is a particularly good place if you’re keen to go bat-spotting (made easier with a bat-detector, which takes the ultrasound calls of bats and makes them easier to hear), as of the 18 species of bat that reside in Britain, 12 can be found in Cornwall, roosting in a variety of places, from hollow trees and caves to church-towers and houses.

Particularly associated with Cornwall is the Greater Horseshoe Bat, one of Britain’s largest bat species, which likes to roost in abandoned mine-shafts. Distinguishable by its horseshoe-shaped nose flap, which it uses like a little satellite dish for its echolocation system (though it does make it more than slightly weird-looking), the Greater Horseshoe is one of the rarest bats in Britain. Its numbers have dropped by, it is estimated, over 90% in the last hundred years and, confined to the South West corner of Britain (including Cornwall), it is on the brink of extinction in the UK.

And Greater Horseshoe Bats are not the only ones that are getting rarer. These little creatures that have inhabited Britain for millions of years have all been experiencing a severe drop in numbers over the last few decades. Ecologist Jacqueline Davey explains that this decline is all too often due to man-made causes: “Building work and large-scale farming are massive threats to bat numbers. Building projects often result in the destruction of roosts, and the widespread use of pesticides means that there are less insects for bats to eat. Combine a loss of habitat and a lack of food and you’re going to see a drop in numbers, I’m afraid.”

Common Pipistrelle

Common Pipistrelle Bat. Photo by Hugh Clark

Chris Harlow, who runs the Bat Aid centre with his wife Sue as part of the Cornwall Bat Group, points out that, though people still hold misconceptions, a growing awareness of bats and our role in their survival can help to stem the decline. “Bats have had a bad press over the years, but it’s improving – people are more aware of bats and so things are being done.

For example there are very strict planning laws now with regard to bats: if someone’s got a bat roost then it’s protected by law and as long as that’s  in force then any building work has to work around the bats.” In Cornwall, where mine capping has had a detrimental effect on the bat population, special caps have been designed for mines so that bats can get in and out to roost.

It’s not all government and councils though: there are things everyone can do to help bats flourish in their area. “Obviously, you can’t keep a bat without a permit so it’s very hard to have one individually,” laughs Mr Harlow, “but you can most definitely help them indirectly.”

Getting a ‘bat-box’ which acts as an artificial roost, is a fantastic way to offset the loss of habitat, but there are other, simpler ways to entice bats by attracting the insects they eat, for example building a pond, not using pesticides and not pruning hedges back too far. “Nature isn’t tidy,” says Miss Davey, “so if you want to encourage wildlife you have to make room for it. Give over a bit of your garden to nature and don’t keep it too neat.”

If you want to learn more about these definitely un-scary creatures and find out what you can do to help conserve them, visit the Bat Conservation Trust’s website at www.bats.org.uk. The free National Bat Helpline can be reached on 0845 1300 228.

Photos supplied by the Bat Conservation Trust.

Want to see more like this?

‘CORNISH WILDLIFE: Bats’ is taken from our Dec/Jan 2012, Vol.2 Issue 9. Subscribe to myCornwall magazine for more stories like this one.

The China Clay Industry: Wheal Martyn

Head on over to Wheal Martyn China Clay Country Park.

Situated in a valley alongside the St Austell River, the China Clay Country Park is a fun day out for all the family. The museum was established in 1975 to preserve the history of China Clay in the mid Cornwall area and is located within two old China Clay works, Wheal Martyn and Gomm.

Begin your tour of the site with the museum which provides an in-depth history of the China Clay industry through both written and interactive mediums. Children can get into character by wearing one of the hard hats available and won’t be bored as they test their strength on the tug of war or put the model water wheel and plunger pump into action.

As you enter the outdoor area, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding what activity to embark on next. The historic trail offers the opportunity to view the old clay works, machinery and vehicles or you can take the nature trail to see how wildlife is reclaiming the old site. Further along the tracks there is also a viewing point for the modern day working clay pit.

For the children, there is a children’s challenge trail and play area and if you fancy bringing a picnic there is plenty of space and tables nearby. If you prefer to eat indoors, the café offers warmth, space and helpful and welcoming staff. Whether you’re in need of a big fill or a light bite the menu has something for everyone, including the kids, and is reasonably priced.

The cream tea is definitely worth a mention – two freshly baked scones (warm from the oven!) complete with generous portions of jam and clotted cream and a pot of tea for one.
The park also offers a variety of goodies in the gift shop and an extensive book collection including everything from the China Clay and Cornish engineering industries to books on the Bal Maidens (females of the mines.)

Wheal Martyn, Carthew, St Austell, Cornwall, PL26 8XG,
01726 850362
www.wheal-martyn.com

 

Want to see more like this?

Subscribe to myCornwall magazine here for the very best of Cornwall’s food, culture, events, art, heritage, personalities and places.

Cornwall’s Mineral Tramways

Like the spent veins of copper that surround them, Cornwall’s mineral tramways cross the landscape of some of Cornwall’s most beautiful locations.

 

From their early days, in the 19th century, through to the 21st century, the mineral tramways have provided the user with the links between town, harbour and quays of central Cornwall.
The first mineral tramway was the Poldice Plateway (or Tramroad), begun in 1809. This was follwoed by the Redruth and Chasewater Railway, opened in 1826.

The main difference between now and those early days is the number of engine houses and other mining paraphernalia one can see.  The landscape, sounds and uses have changed almost beyond recognition. Almost, but not completely the as there are still many icons of the mining age, amongst them the trails themselves.

Running on the Mining Tramways

The Coast to Coast Trail – 11 miles

Users of this trail can walk, ride or cycle from coast to coast. The trail links Portreath on the north coast with Devoran on the south coast.  The scenery is spectacular and there are great facilities for refreshments along the route.

The Coast to Coast Trail follows the early Portreath Tramroad, which opened in 1809. This was the first tramroad in Cornwall and it linked the mines surrounding Scorrier and St Day with Portreath.  The trail also follows the Redruth and Chasewater Railway, built in 1825 to link Redruth and the mines of Gwennap to the port of Devoran on the River Fal.

What to look for: Keep your eyes open as you will head through ancient woodlands and heathlands that are home to plenty of wildlife.

 

The Great Flat Lode Trail – 7.5 miles

The circular trail takes the user through a variety of landscapes including heathland, farmland and old mining sites. The Great Flat Lode, which was tin bearing, was discovered in the 1860s around the time when many of the copper mines of the area were closing. The lode itself was found in an area predominately mined for copper prior to the discovery.

What to look for: You can take a detour and head to the top of Carn Brea and you’ll experience the best views across this part of Cornwall.  Also King Edward Mine (see page 36 for info.)

 

The Portreath Branchline – 5.5 miles

This trail links Portreath with Brea village and Penhallick Leats. It also links-up with the Great Flat Lode Trail. A combination of off-highway and quiet roads extend the trail through to Cornwall College at Pool and beyond to Tuckingmill Valley Park.  The branchline was a part of the Hayle railway which was constructed in 1836.

What to look for: Portreath Beach and Harbour,Tuckingmill Valley Park.

Cycling and Horse Riding

The Tolgus Trail – 1 mile

The shortest of the trails, the Tolgus Trail connects the Coast to Coast Trail with the Tolgus Mill at Treasure Park and The Shire Horse Farm  & Carriage Museum. The trail, which follows the Portreath Valley, is flat and off road.
During the mining years the valley floor was a hive of activity as tin lost from the dressing floors of mines upstream was recovered.

What to look for: The trail skirts a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

 

The Redruth & Chasewater Railway Trail – 7.7 miles

Mainly following the route of the Redruth and Chasewater Railway, the trail is level and off road. This trail branches off the Coast to Coast Trail at Twelveheads, near Chacewater, and heads through woodland and moorland. Passing Carharrack and Lanner the trail eventually connects with the Great Flat Lode Trail and the Tresavean Trail at Buller Hill.

What to look for:  Spectacular views are on offer on this trail plus Carn Marth can be accessed from the trail.

Cycling along the old mineral tramways

The Tehidy Trail– 2.5 miles

This trail is based on the network of trails in Tehidy Country Park, the former home of Sir Francis Basset, who was the sheriff and vice-admiral of Cornwall and MP for St.Ives. Crucially the Bassets were the premier ‘mineral lords’ of the area, and this was the principal sourse of their fortune. The trail links with the Portreath Branchline Trail and this allows easy access to Portreath.

What to look for: Tehidy Country Park, which covers 250 acres, has a café and numerous trails that weave their way through the huge variety of trees.

 

The Tresavean Trail – 1.1 miles
The original line, part of the Hayle Railway, was built to serve the Tresavean Copper Mine in 1837. More than 230,000 tons of copper ore was extracted during its lifetime. Tresavean had also worked as a tin mine until 1928.
What to look for:  Parts of the trail provide spectacular views across the valley to nearby Carn Marth. It is mainly level and off-road.

 

A little bit of history…

The story behind the Mineral Tramways is one of risk, business and invention. In the early part of the 19th century technological advances helped to create a surge in Cornwall’s copper output. More than 300 mines in and around Camborne, Redruth and Gwennap helped turn this part of Cornwall into the copper mining capital of the world. The sound of 600 steam engines pumping water, the hoisting of ore and the ore crushers in operation is a stark contrast to the peace and quite of today’s paths, passages and transport.

In the 18th and 19th centuries it took 18 tons of coal, which was imported from the coalfields of South Wales, to produce a single ton of copper metal from the copper concentrate dug from the Cornish mines.

In the minds of the mine owners it made economic sense to ship the copper ore to South Wales and smelt it there rather than import the coal for smelting purposes to Cornwall. A large South Wales smelting industry was created as a result of the export of the ore.

The ships that travelled between the ports of Cornwall and South Wales would empty their precious copper ore cargo in South Wales and bring coal back to fuel the steam pumping engines, stamps and winding engines of the Cornish mines. By the 1860s approximately 60,000 tons of coal came into the ports and harbours of Cornwall each year.

Transporting the ore to the ships of Portreath harbour and the quays of Devoran in the 18th and first half of the 19th century was mainly the job of pack animals using tracks carved through the landscape.  When the mines began expanding, the need for a more efficient means of transport became apparent. The introduction of the tramways and railways, first introduced in the early 19th century, helped increase the amount of ore being loaded on to boats heading for South Wales and the amount of coal being brought back.

The Portreath Tramway, built between 1809 and 1812, was the first commercial tramway in Cornwall. The wagons were pulled along the rails by horses. The route connected Portreath harbour with the copper mines around Scorrier and St Day. The tramway soon earned a fortune thanks to the fact that it carried around 25,000 tons of copper ore to Portreath each year.
In 1837 the Portreath branch of the Hayle Railway was opened to connect the mines around Camborne and Pool with the harbour at Portreath.

Whilst the Portreath Tramway was the first commercial tramway, it was not the first true railway, that privilege belongs to the Redruth to Chasewater railway which opened in 1825.
As mentioned in the introduction, many of these long closed railways and tramways provide the foundation for the paths of Cornwall’s mineral tramways. Unplanned at the time of the tramways and railways creation they are now a fun, healthy and informative legacy to be enjoyed by everyone.

 

Want to see more like this?

Subscribe to myCornwall magazine here for the very best of Cornwall’s food, culture, events, art, heritage, personalities and places.

To The Cornish Manor Re-Born: Penwarne Manor

Nathan and Vicky Harvey bring the 17th century back to life as holidaymakers can discover for themselves.

With a history dating back at least 650 years, Cornish manor, Penwarne Manor, isn’t short of intrigue. Holidaying visitors intending to stay in the newly-converted barns may think they are simply no more than luxury holiday lets, but today you can delve a little deeper to find a story which reads like a period drama. This is all thanks to ambitious couple Nathan and Vicky Harvey who, in 2007, saw through the dilapidated stonework. “The buildings immediately struck us as something to be saved,” says Nathan. “We simply fell in love with the place”.

Penwarne Manor

The barns stood in a state of disrepair for more than 30 years.

Cue a lengthy and ongoing road to restoration, which they say, resembled an episode of Grand Designs. With friends and family thinking they were mad, the couple were passionate about preserving a rich history and saving the heritage which was at risk of fading away. “We wanted to bring the place back to its original state, working closely with conservation officials and using original materials wherever possible.”

The Manor’s origins can be traced as far back as the 14th century to the ancient family of the Penwarnes whose lands formed a large part of Mevagissey. This dynasty ended however when Vivian Penwarne, the last male heir of the Penwarne family, died in 1490. His great-grandson, Otwell Hill, is credited with restoring much of Penwarne during the early 1600s and his efforts can still be seen today.

After this came John Carew – one of the most intriguing characters in Penwarne’s illustrious past. Nephew of Otwell Hill and son of Richard Carew (Cornish translator and author of A Survey of Cornwall), John is reputed to have been a brave and heroic soldier who lost his hand from cannon fire at the siege of Ostend in 1601. As such, John is one of the first known people to have had a wooden prosthesis.

Penwarne manor restoration

Restoration in progress

Over the next few hundred years, the estate was auctioned off and for three decades the barns were left at the mercy of the elements. The en-suite bedrooms and open planned dining areas of the four Grade II listed barns seem a long way from the days of the original owners. Yet, they all retain a sense of the past thanks to a fine attention to detail. For those who like a little history in their holiday, this will no doubt be of great appeal.

With the family-friendly beaches of Gorran Haven, Portmellon and Caerhays nearby and the Eden Project a mere twenty minute drive away, Penwarne is proving popular with couples and families alike. At nearby Mevagissey you can take a trip to the local church and still see a monument commemorating Otwell Hill’s life. There are even rumours that a secret smugglers tunnel lies between Penwarne and the nearby coast. “Of course, I’ve looked,” says Nathan, “but I’m yet to find it!” Little evidence remains too, of the barn’s blocked-up windows which were once filled in to avoid an infamous ‘window tax’ imposed by Prime Minister William Pitt.

It seems at every corner of Penwarne there is a story to tell, and this is why Nathan and Vicky continue in their tireless labour of love to develop the barns and surrounding land. “The buildings haven’t changed much structurally, but it’s a work in progress,” explains Nathan. Not only have they shed light on the ancient stonework, but they’ve enabled families and friends to experience an almost forgotten history for themselves.

Penwarne Manor after the restoration.

Penwarne Manor after the restoration.

Want to see more like this?

‘To The Manor Re-Born: Penwarne Manor’ is taken from our December/January 2012, Vol.2 Issue 9. Subscribe to myCornwall magazine for more stories like this one.

Heartlands Diaspora Gardens

Heartlands is a green project with its focus firmly on a sustainable future.  The gardens and planting are carefully designed to reflect Cornwall’s ecology but also the influence of the Cornish mining pioneers whose enterprising spirit took them around the world.

The Park and Gardens is run by Heartlands staff and contractors with the recycling of organic material at the centre of their horticulture.  Water capture and retention is used to run the irrigation systems.  Plants and trees have been selected as the result of significant research into native and acclimatised species.

In the footsteps of the miners - Heartlands

Vibrant and exotic plant species from South America, Australia and Africa have been planted to acknowledge this, alongside native plants, while traditional Cornish stone hedges provide shelter.

In the 19th century, thousands of Cornish people emigrated across the world taking with them their culture, mining skills and technologies.

Through exquisite planting and fascinating interpretation, the Diaspora Gardens within Heartlands tell the story of the Cornish people and their influence on the lands to which they travelled.

The Gardens feature plants that were successfully introduced from Cornwall to foreign lands and those which returning countrymen brought back to Cornwall and successfully established in their own gardens, collections and nurseries.

Bounded by water, each of the Gardens are themed on continents and nations important to the story of Cornish migration including Australia, New Zealand,  South Africa, North and South America.

Visitors can cross continents and become fully immersed in the story as they wander through the diverse and unique planting in the Diaspora Gardens, while enjoying the peace and serenity of this truly inspirational new attraction and World Heritage Site.

 

The Gardens are open every day of the year except Christmas Day.
www.heartlandscornwall.com
Heartlands, Robinson’s Shaft, Dudnance Lane, Pool, Redruth,
TR15 3QY  Tel: 01209 722320

 

Want to see more like this?

Subscribe to myCornwall magazine here for the very best of Cornwall’s food, culture, events, art, heritage, personalities and places.

Page 12 of 13« First...910111213
Subscribe Today