Fowey Consols is a mine whose history dominated the fortunes of William West and J.T. Teffry. This was mine in mid-Cornwall was where their lives first crossed, and where they built their famous Austin’s engine.
Fowey Consols was an amalgamation of several mines, and this can make following the history of the set confusing. This post therefore combines the information contained in Jim Lewis’s book ‘A Richly Yielding Piece of Ground‘ with excellent National Library of Scotland website to explore the sett.
The Fowey Consols Mines
These all started work in 1813, they all became Fowey Consols. in 1822.
This became part of Fowey Consols some time after 1830.
This opened about 1817 but did not join Fowey Consols until 1836.
Austen’s involvement in the mines started in 1814 when he purchased shares in Treasure, Fortune and Chance. The mines had a slow start, and the early history of the setts is a complex one of debts, closures and disputes.
In 1820 Austen gained control of Wheals Treasure, Fortune, Chance, and Hope. He was was also buying shares in Lanescott. Fowey Consols was formed in 1822 but Lanescott remained a separate Company until 1836.
The total production of copper from the mines between 1815 and 1836 was 383,359 which brought in sales of £ 2,247,478.
Austen’s style of management favoured returning a large proportion of earnings back into the Company as investment. A strategy that William West, as both engineer and equipment supplier, benefited greatly from. Not all those involved in Fowey Consols appreciated this approach though:
‘Despite of the success being achieved many of the London adventures were unhappy with Austen’s management of the mines.There was a basic conflict of interest- They were looking for the biggest financial returns- but for Austen pqasuccess lay in the magnitude of his achievements and not in the size of his bank balance.’ A Richly Yielding Piece of Ground
Fowey Consols was more than a return on investment, to him it gave him chance to make mark in the world.
From 1831 onward, Treffry and West’s success became intertwined, and therefore, to gain an understanding of how their two lives crossed paths I have dipped into “The king of Mid Cornwall” by John Keast and pulled out some key dates from Treffy’s life and linked them with William West’s timeline.
These dates do not represent a full account of Treffry’s life, but will a give a framework onto which to add other facts.
Joseph Thomas Austin
The King of Mid Cornwall
J.T Austin, later to be named Treffry, was a remarkable figure. He man
aged to transform a relatively small and financially decaying estate until a large industrial and commercial empire. Treffry created an integrated business whose influence spread outwards from Fowey to dominate mid-Cornwall. It was a business that included transport links, mines, quarries, ships and manufacturing.
He was baptized at St. Andrew’s Church Plymouth. The Austens Came from Great Deviock in St. Germans Parish, but later settled in the Friary Plymouth. Joseph’s Father Jacob was a brewer, his mother was Susanna Treffry of Place Fowey.
His father died.
His Mother inherited estate from her brother.
Austen was sent to Exeter college Oxford.
His sister Sarah died, leaving Joseph as the only child
Austen Became involved in an unsuccessful attempt to move post office packet station from Falmouth to Fowey, he helped boat’s crew to survey harbour.
Austen was speaker at political meeting organised by Colman Rasheigh for political reform
He purchased Penventinue farm from the Boconnoc Estate. With it came the area of Caffa Mill where he built a lime kiln salt cellars. This was the site of Austn’s first commercial ventures. He built first ships here, and in later years built waterwheel to power an incline up to to a field near kiln 360ft above sea level; limestone, manure and sea sand used the same route.
Early evidence of Austen investing in mining ventures.
Active member of Friends of freedom and The Reform Society.
Austen buys shares in Wheal Treasure, this would later develop into Fowey Consols.
Contract signed by William Petherick for Austen’s engine.
Austen’s engine set to work.
Austin proposed a suspension bridge across the River Fowey as part of a new Torpoint to Truro road. William West had previosely visited Sunderland to inspection bridge there as an example of what could be achieved.
Engineer James M. Rendel produces survey of proposed new coast road.
This list is extracted from his estate act 1853, as reproduced in “The King of mid-Cornwall”. An idea of the range of Treffry’s interests can be gained from this list.
Tramway and Branches
Coal, Iron, Timber, granite, clay and claystone dealer
J.T. Austin (Treffry) had a major influence on the success of William West of Tredenham, and his life story and works is one that deserves further exploration. Among the events listed above are many that tempt me to discover more. Unfortunately distraction will not get the talk researched, so this blog will therefore return to him in the future. Meanwhile on to the next topic….Fowey Consols I suspect.
A blow well worth following if you wish to learn more about Samuel Grose.
Why is the engineer forgotten in Somerset?
It is a shame that other sources outside of Cornwall fail to recognise the importance of Samuel Grose. So far I have failed to find any reference to him on websites covering the his birth place Nether Stowey.
All sorts of other past residents are listed, but this important engineer appears forgotten. This seems to repeat the pattern found at Norwich, where John Taylor is ignored. Why does this country chose to ignore its engineers ( unless they are called Brunel), whilst reveling in its poets, artists and priests. Perhaps I explains why we are struggling in so many sectors, in 21st century UK due to the lack of technical skills.
A quick detour away from the word of serious history, to the magic of Cornwall.
Here’s a book with a Cornish-Devon ( or should it be Cornish English theme) from Cheryl Manley. It tells the magical story of how the Rivers Tamar, Taw and Tavy came to be. A traditional tale told in a wonderful way that young children will love.