The railway and Cornish identity

Last week I summarised an article which called for the Church of England to take account of regional identities and specifically the Cornish identity. This week I review another article which takes as its subject the Cornish identity. This one assesses the ways in which the railway has contributed to that identity. (For a more … Continue reading The railway and Cornish identity

A Cornish colony in Mexico

In 1826 the West Briton carried a report from Redruth: a miner recently back from overseas had  ‘astonished the natives by appearing in the streets in the dress usually worn by the Mexican miners.’ The migration links between Cornwall and Mexico in the 1800s have been less often covered than the much more numerous flows … Continue reading A Cornish colony in Mexico

From merchanting to gardening: the Williams dynasty of Caerhays

The history of the Williams family of Caerhays in mid-Cornwall and Scorrier, Burncoose and Tregullow near Redruth is the story of Cornwall writ small. Emerging from obscurity in the later 1600s in the country between Redruth and Penryn, the family became Cornwall’s most successful mine managers and investors during the 1700s. It was John Williams … Continue reading From merchanting to gardening: the Williams dynasty of Caerhays

Contextualising Poldark: cottage conditions

The last TV series may have veered sharply off the rails. However, re-reading the early novels of Winston Graham’s Poldark saga is a reminder of how he wove his plot around some not inaccurate historical observations. Cornwall was a place of major change in the Poldark years from 1783 to 1820. High pressure steam engines … Continue reading Contextualising Poldark: cottage conditions

Central or southern? Cornwall’s contested railway route

These days we tend to take the route of the current railway mainline in Cornwall from Penzance to Plymouth for granted. But from 1844 to 1846 a heated debate raged about which direction the railway in Cornwall should take. There were already two passenger railways in Cornwall. A short line from Bodmin to Wadebridge had … Continue reading Central or southern? Cornwall’s contested railway route

The state of Cornish towns in 1600: Part 2

As Richard Carew turned his attention westwards, his accounts of Cornish towns became noticeably briefer, probably reflecting his lack of acquaintance with places increasingly distant from his home at Antony, close to the Tamar. St Columb was merely ‘a mean market town’, while St Austell was still too insignificant to get a mention. Despite being … Continue reading The state of Cornish towns in 1600: Part 2