Monthly Archives: October 2014

Looe and Wilke Collins

As the Looe Literary Festival approaches it presents a great excuse to reproduce some of the words from one of my favourite pieces of descriptive Victorian writing –Rambles Beyond Railways, by Wilkie Collins.

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Wilkie Collins is best know for his novels, however this publiction is a rare gem of his social observation. Ramble beyond Railways is a Victorian provincial traveller’s view of Cornwall, and it makes a fascinating read. I have often used his rich description of South Caradon Mine, a description that brings into animated life the silent remains of this once great industrial complex. But that description can wait for another post. This time it’s Wilkie Collins’s Looe.

Rambles Beyond Railways; or, Notes in Cornwall taken A-foot by Wilkie Collins

Looe is known to have existed as a town in the reign of Edward I.; and it remains to this day one of the prettiest and most primitive places in England. The river divides it into East and West Looe; and the view from the bridge, looking towards the two little colonies of houses thus separated, is in some respects almost unique. At each side of you rise high ranges of beautifully wooded hills; here and there a cottage peeps out among the trees, the winding path that leads to it being now lost to sight in the thick foliage, now visible again as a thin serpentine line of soft grey. Midway on the slopes appear the gardens of Looe, built up the acclivity on stone terraces one above another; thus displaying the veritable garden architecture of the mountains of Palestine magically transplanted to the side of an English hill. Here, in this soft and genial atmosphere, the hydrangea is a common flower-bed ornament, the fuchsia grows lofty and luxuriant in the poorest cottage garden, the myrtle flourishes close to the sea-shore, and the tender tamarisk is the wild plant of every farmer’s hedge.

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From the Wilkie Collins information Website

Click here for the website>

Looking lower down the hills yet, you see the houses of of the river, in mazes of little narrow streets; curious old quays project over the water at different points; coast-trade vessels are being loaded and unloaded, built in one place and repaired in another, all within view; while the prospect of hills, harbour, and houses thus quaintly combined together, is beautifully closed by the English Channel, just visible as a small strip of blue water, pent in between the ridges of two promontories which stretch out on either side to the beach.

Such is Looe as beheld from a distance; and it loses none of its attractions when you look at it more closely. There is no such thing as a straight street in the place. No martinet of an architect has been here, to drill the old stone houses into regimental regularity. Sometimes you go down steps into the ground floor, sometimes you mount an outside staircase to get to the bed-rooms. Never were such places devised for hide and seek since that exciting nursery pastime was first invented. No house has fewer than two doors leading into two different lanes; some have three, opening at once into a court, a street, and a wharf, all situated at different points of the compass……

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Then, when you have at last threaded your way successfully through the streets, and have got out on the beach, you see a pretty miniature bay, formed by the extremity of a green hill on the right, and by fine jagged slate-rocks on the left. Before this seaward quarter of the town is erected a strong bulwark of rough stones, to resist the incursion of high tides. Here, the idlers of the place assemble to lounge and gossip, to look out for any outward-bound ships that are to be seen in the Channel, and to criticise the appearance and glorify the capabilities of the little fleet of Looe fishing-boats, riding snugly at anchor before them at the entrance of the bay.

The inhabitants number some fourteen hundred; and are as good-humoured and unsophisticated a set of people as you will meet with anywhere. The Fisheries and the Coast Trade form their principal means of subsistence. The women take a very fair share of the hard work out of the men’s hands. You constantly see them carrying coals.

Whilst the author mentions the discharging of coal, he fails to make any reference to the huge amounts of copper ore traffic that would have been passing through the small port during his visit. A strange omission, considering his visit to the Caradon mines, and the fact that the quays would have been covered in piles of ore awaiting shipment to South Wales.

The full book can be obtained from Amazon, several editions are  listed in the Navsbooks A Store on the Navsbooks Reference page.

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Navsbooks now on Twitter

Check out Navsbooks (@JohnTeammanley): https://twitter.com/JohnTeammanley?s=09

Is there such a thing as the Cornish Tourist industry?

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I have never been comfortable with the link between the words ‘tourist’ and ‘Industry’ in Cornwall. Mining, quarrying, China clay, fishing, shipping, ship repair, farming, and engineering are industries, but to me, tourism fails to justify that accolade. Why, when so many flood into Cornwall every year to spend their hard earned money east of the Tamar?

The reason is time. That flood is short and intense, a burst of caravans, tents, and second home owners. A burst now intensified by the UK Government’s enforcement of school term times, with prosecution of parents who dare take their children on holiday outside of that brief August period. There is no way that community can support itself when dominated by a system that provides income for only six weeks of a year. And this is why I find it so hard to use their term ‘Tourist Industry’.

And yet, within Cornwall there are many fighting hard to change that, to fill the gaps between the last eastward bound sea, sun, and sand holiday maker, and the first of the Easter visitors. Festival’s are a  key part in this change; their dates are scattered across the calendar, forming a potential draw to visitors, a draw independent on the vagaries of the Cornish weather. Music, dance, food, art, books, beer, films, and just plain  weirdness are used as reasons to put the posters up.

Looe’s new Literary Festival is such a festival, and one that I am excited about playing my part in, if only a small one. It’s a town that I always enjoy visiting in winter, it’s narrow streets offer a great place to walk on a wet and windy day. Somehow, it seems to maintain just enough day visitors out of season to give it some life, a bit of a buzz. I am hoping that the influx of authors, some well known, others not so well known, will add to that buzz. If it does, I will add it to my growing list of Cornish Events to check out each year.

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Perhaps the Cornish Tourist Industry does exist, but it is small, a lot smaller then we are told to believe it is. However, perhaps one day the festival’s, mazy days, all weather attractions, and the Duchy’s landscape will coalesce into a large enough mass to create all year employment for large numbers. Perhaps then, the economic benefits will then offset the distortions in property prices and wages. Perhaps then, I will be comfortable with the term Cornish Tourist Industry.

Meanwhile, if you are in the area, come along to Looe, where I look forward to seeing you at the Salutation Inn will be at on Saturday the 13th at 4 pm, to  enjoy  a good pint, and warm fire as I explore behind the words of my new book, The Last Great Cornish Engineer.

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This Inn is full of charm and history. The beams are said to be from Ship Wrecks that the Smugglers beached at Hannafore and the walls are decked with old pictures of Looe and the skippers with record Shark captures I could have looked at them all day. The floor is uneven and you have to duck your way around…

Trip Advisor

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British Geological Survey Maps-Cornwall and Devon Index

The British Geological Survey have now placed their maps on line- an amazing wealth of maps to explore. I have posted below links to the their portal and direct links to maps that cover many of William West’s mines in Cornwall and Devon.
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Click here for the BGS map portal


Cornwall
Click here for the map covering the Lands End area (Penzance, 351 358)

Click here for the sheet covering the Camborne-Redruth area (Falmouth, 352). This sheet includes Dolcoath and South Roskear mines.

Click here for the sheet covering the Lizard area (Lizard, 359)

Click here for the sheet covering the Fowey Consols and St.Blazey area (Bodmin, Sheet 347). This sheet includes Fowey Consols, Par Consols, and Pembroke Mines.

Click here for the map covering the Mevagissy area (Mevagissy,353).

Click here for the sheet covering the Newquay area (Newquay,346). This includes Wheel Rose, and Cligga.

Click here for the sheet covering North Cornwall (Trevose Head and Camelford,335/336)

Click here for the sheet covering Phoenix United and South Caradon

 (Tavistock, Sheet 337). The sheet also shows the area around Callington and the Tamar Valley, which includes the following mines: Holmbush, Redmoor, East Cornwall Silver Mine, Great Martha, Drakewalls, Devon Great Consols

Click here for the sheet covering the Menheniot and lower Tamar Valley  (Plymouth, Sheet 348). This sheet includes Wheal Mary Ann, Wheal Trelawny, South Hooe Mine, Tamar Mine, Danescombe Mine, Wheal Whitleigh, Modditom Mine.

Devon
Click here for the sheet covering Southern Dartmoor( Dartmoor Forest, Sheet 338)

Click here for the sheet covering south of Dartmoor.(Ivybridge,349).

Click here for the sheet covering Northern Dartmoor (Okehampton,324)

Click here for the sheet covering east of Dartmoor. (Newton Abbot,339 ) -Includes the Teign Valley Mines.


Click here to see a list of my books available on Amazon.
Click here for more information about The Last Great Cornish Engineer.
Click here for my author page on Amazon.

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Looe literary festival

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I have been invited to give a talk on The Last Great Cornish Engineer at the Looe Literary Festival in November. Looks like a great weekend. I will be at the Salutation Inn, on Saturday the 15th at 4 pm. I have been tempted with a venue of a warm log fire, and real ale, now that sounds good.

Looe is linked with some of the mines of William West; its quays used to be covered with their ore, ready for dispatch to South Wales. So, it seems a great place to give the book its first festival airing.

So, if you are in South East Cornwall that weekend, pop along to Looe and I will see you there. I have attached the running order for the weekend in this post.

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I am looking forward to seeing David Barrie on the Sunday. His book ‘Sextant’ is a fascinating read for anyone with the slightest interest in Navigation.


Click here to visit my Amazon authors page
For those passing through Cornwall, then pop into the Liskeard Bookshop, King Edward Mine or Geevor Mine to buy a copy of my books. To buy the books on line, or download the kindle publications then visit my Amazon store to browse through my books.

British Geological Maps now on line-an amazing resource

The British Geological Survey have now placed their maps on line- an amazing wealth of maps to explore. I have posted below links to the their portal and direct links to maps that cover many of William West’s mines in Cornwall and Devon.
image

Click here for the BGS map portal


Cornwall
Click here for the map covering the Lands End area (Penzance, 351 358)

Click here for the sheet covering the Camborne-Redruth area (Falmouth, 352). This sheet includes Dolcoath and South Roskear mines.

Click here for the sheet covering the Lizard area (Lizard, 359)

Click here for the sheet covering the Fowey Consols and St.Blazey area (Bodmin, Sheet 347). This sheet includes Fowey Consols, Par Consols, and Pembroke Mines.

Click here for the map covering the Mevagissy area (Mevagissy,353).

Click here for the sheet covering the Newquay area (Newquay,346). This includes Wheel Rose, and Cligga.

Click here for the sheet covering North Cornwall (Trevose Head and Camelford,335/336)

Click here for the sheet covering Phoenix United and South Caradon

 (Tavistock, Sheet 337). The sheet also shows the area around Callington and the Tamar Valley, which includes the following mines: Holmbush, Redmoor, East Cornwall Silver Mine, Great Martha, Drakewalls, Devon Great Consols

Click here for the sheet covering the Menheniot and lower Tamar Valley  (Plymouth, Sheet 348). This sheet includes Wheal Mary Ann, Wheal Trelawny, South Hooe Mine, Tamar Mine, Danescombe Mine, Wheal Whitleigh, Modditom Mine.

Devon
Click here for the sheet covering Southern Dartmoor( Dartmoor Forest, Sheet 338)

Click here for the sheet covering south of Dartmoor.(Ivybridge,349).

Click here for the sheet covering Northern Dartmoor (Okehampton,324)

Click here for the sheet covering east of Dartmoor. (Newton Abbot,339 ) -Includes the Teign Valley Mines.


Click here to see a list of my books available on Amazon.
Click here for more information about The Last Great Cornish Engineer.
Click here for my author page on Amazon.

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Luxullianite-A close up

Unfortunately I was not able to use a flash in the St. Paul’s Cathedral crypt, but I did manage to grab a shot of the Duke of Wellington’s Tomb. A bit of a dark shot, but it may give a comparison with the rock used for West’s Grave.

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For more close ups of luxulliante visit this website. In October 2014 the Luxulyan Quarry was for sale Click here for information.

DESCRIPTION
The site consists of one quarry void, now partially water filled and extending to approximately 19 acres, supporting utility areas and de-watering areas, approximately 40 acres of tenanted farmland and an area of low-lying woodland. The site benefits from two access points from the public highway, with associated areas of hardstanding. The quarry was last worked in the late 1990s and whilst the fixed plant and equipment has been removed, a redundant weighbridge is located adjacent to the main quarry access.
Currently mothballed, there is an estimated 11 million tonnes of workable reserves remaining on site. The quarry provides Cornish granite that is utilised for purposes such as general construction aggregate and for roadway sub-base construction. The permissions to allow quarrying are currently live but there is currently no intention by the tenant to re-start operations at the quarry
From sales brochure by UK Land and Farms.

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The Trevithick Society’s talk in October will be Quarry related.

The Bearah Tor Granite Quarry,by the Quarry’s operator, Ian Piper. Bearah Tor Quarry is cut into the slopes of the Tor on the eastern edge of Bodmin Moor. It was once served by a branch of the the Liskeard and Caradon Railway, a railway in which William West held shares. This should be a fascinating presentation, a rare mixture of past and present.
All are welcome-(Non members two pound donation).

Event details
Tuesday 14th October: 7:30pm Liskeard Public Hall (The Long Room). I will have copies of The Last Great Cornish Engineer for sale at the meeting.

Click here to see a list of my books available on Amazon.

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Luxullianite -West and Wellington

Two lumps of carved stone, two graves, two historic figures, with a connection; and that connection is Luxulliantie

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The upper picture is of William West’s gravestone at St.Blazey, a notable piece of chuchyard architecture, crisp and surprisingly modern in style. The lower is the Duke of Wellington’s tomb, hidden beneath St. Paul’s Cathedral.

‘ Mr. West lent the trustees of the estate the engine and machinery for the cutting and polishing of the magnificent sarcophagus of the Duke of Wellington’  The Last Great Cornish Engineer -page 96.

Both stones are cut from Luxulliantie, and it is possible that they both came from the same block of rock.

Luxullianite is a rare type of tourmaline-rich granite named after the village of Luxulyan in Cornwall. Luxullianite is formed from boron-rich pegmatitic fluids caused by fractional crystallisation of the biotite-rich St Austell granite complex, which formed around 280 million years ago by partial melting of the lower continental crust during the Variscan orogeny.
The Virtual microscope web site

The Luxulyan Valley is a fascinating area to visit, full of industrial history containing many connections with William West. The Friends of Luxulyan Valley website contains some excellent information about the valley.


Moore Books, an excellent on line book shop for all things mining, caving and industrial history, are now stocking ‘The Last Great Cornish Engineer‘. Their website is well worth a visit.

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