Perranarworthal: fitting engines and feeding boarders

We arrive at the three parishes named after Perran, who has become Cornwall’s patron saint. Perranarworthal (Perran at the manor of Arworthal, meaning by the marsh), on the western bank of the Fal estuary upriver from Penryn, was one of Cornwall’s more industrial parishes in Victorian times. It was here that the Foxes had financed the construction of Perran Foundry in 1791. In 1861 one in five of Perranarworthal’s men worked either in the foundry or other local industrial concerns, including gunpowder mills, woollen mills, smaller iron works and an arsenic smelter. This was a slightly higher number than those working in either mines or farms, each of which employed another one in five of the men.

By the time it reached Ponsanooth in the parish, the Redruth to Falmouth horse bus in 1902 was fairly crowded

Several made the transition from farming backgrounds to industrial occupations. Jacob Millett was one. His father, John Millett, farmed 22 acres in the parish but Jacob was apprenticed as an engineer. He duly became an engine fitter, marrying Mary Wishart in 1875. Mary was from Penryn and the couple moved to live in that town, although Jacob remained an engine fitter. His work would sometimes take him further afield and in 1891 he was boarding at Newcastle where he was helping to fit a steam engine at one of the local works.

Another general facet of industrialisation was the change from rural to urban life. Again, there were several examples of this from Perranarworthal. Margaret Tiddy was the daughter of a miner. She worked at a woollen mill in her 20s before marrying William Down, a stonemason from Devon. Margaret and William then moved to live at Truro although William soon died in 1887. Margaret stayed in Truro however and in 1901 was found running a boarding house in Lemon Street in that town.

By 2018 the iconic Cornish heritage site of Perran Foundry had been converted into ‘wharfside townhouses’ selling for £450,000-600,000 each

One thought on “Perranarworthal: fitting engines and feeding boarders

  1. I recall as a child the rather picturesque remains of the works in this industrial village in the 60s/70s and it seemed to have something quintessentially Cornish about it in the dusty warmth while I guessed at what had been, the graft, the ghost of the workers still there, horses led away, a sense of my having missed something that had just departed. I doubt much remains of that sense of place. Thankyou.

    Liked by 1 person

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