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
It used to be said with some pride that Delabole slate quarry was so big it could be seen from space. Nowadays, given the state of satellite surveillance technology, that’s not saying much. But it’s still a big hole in the ground by any standards – the largest open work in a region where open … Continue reading Delabole slate quarry
The Cornish engine was so named because it was a type of steam engine developed by Cornish engineers and enginemen and mainly used in Cornwall. From 1810 the efficiency of beam engines was steadily improved. These were used to pump the water out of mines. They also, somewhat later, raised ore and lowered materials (whim … Continue reading What was a Cornish engine?
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
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
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
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
Tomorrow is the anniversary of the birth in 1908 of Winston Grime, who adopted the pen-name of Winston Graham when he authored the Poldark saga. The first in a series of books - Ross Poldark - was published in 1945. That was followed by eleven more, most written in the 1970s and 80s, with the … Continue reading Poldark: an insider’s guide?
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
Richard Carew’s Survey of Cornwall gives an insight into the state of Cornish towns at the end of the 1500s, when he was compiling his book. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say it gives an insight into Carew’s opinion of Cornish towns at this time. Beginning in the east, Carew wrote that … Continue reading The state of Cornish towns in 1600: Part 1