Posts Tagged ‘Cornwall’

Some Cornish Music

August 11, 2016

Now in truth I don’t know how Cornish this is, but the book was compiled by a Cornishman who also put together books of Cornish dialect songs. But this particular book has a little family history interest as well.


This is the book by Dunstan and Bygott. It is just a chance that R Dunstan could be a relative but we’ll leave that on one side.  The title sheet has an inscription from R Dunstan.


The book was sent to ‘My friend W W Piper with kindest regards from Ralph Dunstan, June 1932′. Wilfred Welch Piper was my wife’s great uncle by marriage.

He has added a paragraph of his own thoughts in a blank part of the book.image006

I have two recollections of ballad singers. One visited Trevithick Cross about two miles from Penzance on the St Just road (about 1880) and after singing several songs offered “broadsheets” with the words at 1d (a penny) each.
The other related to a very ragged old man with a wonderful voice for one so aged who visited Camelford as late as 1887.
Summercourt and St Lawrence Fairs were, I have heard, regularly visited by ballad singers with broadsheets offering at ½d and 1d each many years ago.

Ralph Dunstan died in April 1933 at Callestick, Cornwall. Let’s finish with a page of his music.


Visit Old World Cornwall

July 16, 2016

That’s what my railway poster calendar is suggesting for this month – July.


This poster was made for the Great Western Railway and was in use from 1924 to 47. The art work was by S I Veale.

The actual location is not given but it looks typical Cornwall with a steep narrow street leading down to a bay. It isn’t Charlestown but that’s the place to go if you hope to see tall ships around the place – even in thick sea mist!




This was 20th February 2009 – a lovelyplace.


Great Granny lived here

May 6, 2016

My wife was lucky enough to have truly known her great granny. Great Granny had been born in 1857 which made her a venerable old lady as remembered by my wife. She may have been born in Gloucestershire, but she was a long term resident in Cornwall, mostly in Redruth where she raised her family and then living with a daughter in St Austell.

Back in 1989 we took a look at the house on Poltair Road in St Austell.


That was it, with my wife standing in front. The

photo, pre digital of course, is stuck in an album and my wife wrote a note underneath it.


Great Granny, apparently, said that had she known she was going to live so long she’d have changed out of the long black dresses. She was just short of 101 when she died.

And here we see a group outside the same house in about 1952.

image006Great Granny is at the back left with Great Aunty Dolly holding the little girl who is now my wife. The man in the photo was my wife’s father and we do not know who the other lady is.


A walk in St Agnes

April 10, 2016

St Agnes is in Cornwall and my wife had ancestors from that area. It’[s a mining area and the ancestors were all mining families. Back in 2014 we took a stroll in the St Agnes area – notably a path known as the Rock Road.

Let’s start at Trevaunance Cove and head upwards from there.


Mine engine houses are very much the order of the day in this part of the world.

image004We had gone up quite a way from Trevaunance Cove.

image006We were in amongst the relics of the old mining industry.


image010More mine engine houses.



Most of the engine houses remain as gaunt ruins – a reminder of a time past. Some have been converted into dwellings.

image014Taking this walk really was walking through family history. We do not know where in the parish of St Agnes ancestors lived or where they worked – there are dozens of possibilities, but they must have walked this or similar paths to get to work. Some area might remain recognisable to the folks from 150 or more years ago.


Carn Brea

January 26, 2016

Carn Brea is a hill just outside Redruth in Cornwall. My wife’s grandparents were Redruth dwellers as children and both of them could see this hill from their childhood homes. These grandparents spent much of their adult life in Cheshire – just about the edge of Manchester. They named their house there Carn Brea in memory of their childhood.

Back in the spring of 2003 we were in the area in Cornwall around the real Carn Brea.

This was the view of Carn Brea from Granny’s home in Redruth.

image002The monument on top is the Bassett Memorial. I believe (but please put me right) that the building to the left of it was Carn Brea Castle and is now in use as a restaurant.

From closer to we preferred the more natural rock piles.


This Features my wife for a splash of red and for family connections.

There is, of course, a view back down over Redruth.

image006Granny’s house is more or less in the centre of that photo. Grandfather’s would be at the extreme left.


Wadebridge Station or the John Betjeman Centre

June 7, 2015

Regular readers, particularly of the train blogs, will know that I first visited Wadebridge back in 1961. My dad took my brother and me – young train spotters – to see three very special old engines.

Probably unsurprisingly, the line was ‘Beechinged’ in 1967. All passenger services ceased but freight hung on until 1978 at which point complete closure saw the end of rail transport in this part of Cornwall.

Let’s fast forward to 2003 and another visit to the station.  By then it looked like a station building, but had a different use.


Tea, which we wanted, was on offer at the building so we parked up and went in. Actually, we were not eligible for it was for over 60s and back then we weren’t. But we were admitted and had a welcome cup of tea in what is now a John Betjeman centre with memorabilia about the former poet laureate – who was also a lover of this part of Cornwall and of railways.


We visited Betjeman’s grave, across the Camel estuary at the church of St Enedoc.


And what a delightful little church and setting that is.


Kit Williams

May 23, 2015

Christopher Williams was the brother of my wife’s great grandmother which must make him a great great uncle. He was a Cornish man from the Redruth area and an extremely elusive man to find.

He was known as Captain Kit. We don’t think he was a military captain, but rather a mine captain. And like many a Cornishman he travelled, not just within Cornwall or England, but all over the world.

He was born in about 1853 in Hayle but being part of a mining family would mean he moved around.

In 1861 he was with his family in Camborne and in 1871 he was with the family in Redruth. He married Mary Harry in 1879. She had been born in Australia but was part of a Redruth mining family.

In 1881 Christopher was described as a shopkeeper at 8 Fore Street in Redruth.


We have copied examples of adverts he placed in the Cornubian newspaper. Above is 1882 and below is 1883


We rather think it was his wife who ran the shop for Christopher was managing a mine in India for much of the time, but got home enough to father four children between 1880 and 1891.

Mary appears on the 1891 census but Christopher must have been away from home.

Neither Mary nor Christopher were blessed with long lives. Mary died in 1896. Christopher died in 1900


The newspaper carried this notice.

In 1901 the three younger children, Thomas, May and Christopher lived with an Aunt. Edward can’t be found and by 1911 all four of Kit’s children seem to have vanished.

Of course, we’d love to know more.

The History of Draughts in Cornwall

April 28, 2015

Back in September 2013 I wrote a blog about my wife’s great uncle by marriage, Wilfred Welch Piper. He was once featured in a Cornish newspaper as a leading draughts player in that south west county of England.

A chap called John Gillbard came across that piece of mine and got in touch. John was writing a book on the history of draughts in Cornwall and wondered if we had any more. The answer was a big yes, for we had Wilfred’ scrapbook in which he had kept many news items about draughts players and matches in Cornwall. John has now finished his book and has kindly sent us a copy.


The book covers the period from the 1800s to 2015. John’s view is that the game is now in its death throes as far as being a truly competitive activity is concerned. That’s a shame, of course, but younger people do tend to like to have a screen in front of them and maybe a bit of action in their games.

I’m pleased to say that my wife’s relatives do appear in the book.


Locksands Life is pleased to have helped bring about this book which offers insight into a little facet of West Country history.


A tin tin mine

March 17, 2015

Last year we camped in Cornwall, close to Blue Hills Tin.

We thought a visit to this site was fantastic. The whole process of tin extraction and production was explained in clear easy to understand ways. You could see a water powered Cornish stamp in action, crushing tin ore. You could see furnaces for smelting the ore. It really was a wonderful visit, particularly as my wife has Cornish tin mining ancestors. Some insight was gained into what the bal maidens actually did and how miners actually worked. I’d thoroughly recommend a trip there. It’s well worth the entry price.

The whole process is gone through, in this case to finished items designed to be sold to us tourists. And why not? The site owners of this last working tin business in the Duchy have to make a living and when you see what a fantastic job they do – well, you feel a need to come out with a bit of tin.

One item we bought was a tine mine engine house, cast in blue hills tin. It’s a lovely item and of course with the ancestry it is very meaningful to us.

It comes in a box which makes a handy display stand.


And it really looks the part – that iconic symbol of the Cornish scene…


…no matter which way you look at it.


Now who needs silver when tin looks that good?

Petherick Creek

February 17, 2015

This creek is in Cornwall and near Padstow. I won’t say I knew it as a child, but we did go, as a family, to Padstow back in 1961. My dad seemed happy to indulge me in my train spotting hobby and Padstow was a place of importance, being the final outpost and terminus of the southern line from Waterloo.

Just before arrival at Padstow the line needed to be carried over Petherick Creek and there was a girder bridge, much admired by photographers.

The Southern Railway thought enough of the scene to feature it in a poster.


It certainly adds a bit of character to the foreground and allows the train in mid distance to appear tiny in wonderful scenery.

Sadly, the line was ‘Beechinged’ and closed entirely as uneconomic and unwanted. It would have been uneconomic, but many people still wanted it but sadly it was swept away nearly 50 years ago.

But the Petherick Creek Bridge survived and is now a part of a footpath and cycleway.

Back in 2007 (November) I targeted the bridge for a couple of photos. One was from a long way away, across the Camel estuary, which is the big body of water to the left of the bridge in the poster.


Yes, it really is a long way away, but we can do a bit of a zoom here.


My other photo was from much nearer and from a point higher than the bridge. We are looking towards the very end of the line at Padstow.


Once again, we can zoom.


Now I can half close my eyes and imagine the Atlantic Coast Express (the ACE) drifting over that bridge after its long journey from Waterloo. How magic it would have been to have actually seen that.