Thomas Engine, West Kitty

On the 21st February the Museum took delivery of Ian Yarwood’s 1/16th scale model of Thomas’ Engine, West Kitty. Along with the model were all of his engineering plans and research, accompanied by a large number of books relating to Cornish mining. Any of the books not needed for the collection may be sold to help raise funds for the Museum. Three generations of the Yarwood family helped make this all possible. The model, plans and books were donated by Ian’s widow.

Ian was from Leicester but had visited St. Agnes on holiday for many years, regularly staying at Presingoll Farm. Ian was fascinated by Cornish Beam Engines. He was able to use his skill as a tool designer and model maker to draw the engine in full engineering detail, assisted by drawings from the Science Museum. Ian then commenced with building the model itself. All of the working parts were made by Ian. The cylinder (pictured) and beam were cast with the help of a local foundry. Our Chairman, Roger Radcliffe, recalls Ian showing parts of the model to him on one of Ian’s many holidays to Cornwall. The model is also mentioned in our Newsletters 15 and 22 in 1990 and 1994 respectively.

Ian Yarwood’s 1/16th scale model of Thomas’ Engine cylinder
Ian Yarwood’s 1/16th scale model of Thomas’ Engine cylinder

The craftsmanship of the model is superb and a testament to Ian’s skill.  Ian was never able to complete his model. However the majority of the parts are present and it is hoped that a suitable individual may be found to complete the model. Maybe one day we will even see it in steam?

The model is based upon the 40 inch engine built in 1863 by Harvey & Co. of Hayle. This engine also worked at West Polbreen Mine at St. Agnes from 1872 to 1885 before being moved to West Kitty (Thomas’ Shaft). It was later moved to the Carpalla clay works near St. Austell before coming to its final resting place at the Science Museum, London. The Science Museum’s plans of the engine are illustrated inside the cover of D.B. Barton’s The Cornish Beam Engine, 1965 (new edition 1969).

Museum exhibitions APP

We are developing an APP which visitors will be able to download free of
charge from their APP store whilst at the Museum, using their own data
allowance or by accessing our brand new WiFi connection.

The APP will eventually provide extra information about the general
purpose of each cabinet or display area and of each item on display.

Visitors with visual impairment can enable the “text to speech” facility
on their mobile phone’s accessibility settings to enable them to listen
to the information. This is another important step in our commitment to
good access for all.

When we eventually open we will first of all have the Tony Giles
exhibition and the Counter and Outdoor exhibits available on the APP. A
QR code will be displayed which the visitor will scan using the APP and
they will then have interactive access to the artefacts.

The delay in opening due the Covid-19 virus has not delayed progress
with the APP; it has in fact allowed for better fine tuning of the
system, so we hope it will be a great success.

Farewell to the bell

The Wheal Coates Bell
The Wheal Coates Bell in its new home

After more than 25 years at the Museum, the Wheal Coates Bell now hangs
in pride of place in the Wheal Coates Tearoom on Beacon Drive at Bungay
Barn and, in a small way, it continues to promote the Museum.

If only what it promotes were true! With neither café nor Museum
currently open, we all wait for the outcome of our efforts to halt the
spread of the Covid-19 virus before we can enjoy such luxuries as tea in
the company of others.

In the meantime, we wish the operators of the new café all the very
best; there was definitely a gap in the market in this ‘dry spot’
between Chapel Porth and Trevaunance Cove, one that the tearoom
certainly looks set to fill.  I am sure that it will appeal to a huge
number of walkers many of whom will hopefully return to the village via
the Museum.

Erica Suttill landscape

Trevaunance Cove by Erica Suttill
Trevaunance Cove by Erica Suttill

Just as news of the Coronavirus Pandemic broke and we needed something
to cheer us up, the Museum was very generously given this striking
framed painting by Erica Suttill of Trevaunance Cove and the cliffs
stretching towards Perranporth. The donor’s father had bought it from
the artist. The Museum already has two portraits by her, so to add a
rarer landscape is very pleasing. There was an article on Erica Suttill,
part of a series on St Agnes artists, in the most recent Journal, No 23.

Annual General Meeting, 19 February 2020

Chairman, Roger Radcliffe, welcomed 46 Members of St Agnes Museum Trust to its 36th Annual General Meeting in the Methodist Church Hall on 19 February 2020.

Treasurer, David Teagle, reported a deficit of £825 over the year with receipts totalling £14011 and payments £14836. There had been repairs to the alarm system, a digital survey which had cost £1200, and a new computer purchased at a cost of £586. Shop sales had increased by 20% and Gift Aid was predicted to raise £2400. Changing to a new insurance company had resulted in savings of £402. Broadband would be installed in 2020, its cost subsidised by being part of the Wave Project. The Treasurer recommended that for 2021 Overseas Membership should rise to £20pa, but other subscriptions should remain unchanged.

In her Curator’s Report, Clare Murton, reported that written records of acquisitions in the “Blue Book” were up to date but computer records on “Modes” were slightly behind. She and Assistant Curator, Philip Mitchell, had been busily creating a space for the forthcoming Virtual Reality experience. The display on Tony Giles had proved popular and would continue, as would the surfing display which had one new board. A Museum App was being developed so that smart phone users could read or hear more information on items in a display. Among recent acquisitions were a Jill Vasey pottery tile of Stippy Stappy, a scale model of a mine engine in Thomas’ Shaft off Vicarage Road, the original of which is in the Science Museum, which was created by the late Ian Yarwood, and a mine plan for flooding the entire Chapel Porth valley to create power for mining machinery. Luckily this came to nothing.

Mary Wilson, Membership Secretary, reported 191 Members, including 4 new ones, and said what appreciative comments about the Journal and Newsletters she received when Members paid their subscriptions.  Sadly, no Under 18s had yet taken up the Museum’s offer of free Membership.

Roger Radcliffe, in his report, thanked many people for helping keep the Museum open and updated listeners on the Wave Project. He explained that a single granite block from the ruined St Agnes Harbour would be brought to the Museum and fitted in the corner where Family History had been.  Visitors would sit on this and through the magic of the VR headset would be transported to the Harbour in 1903 and watch one schooner being unloaded and a second loaded while the water lapped around them.  When the second vessel set sail she would be revealed as the Lady Agnes complete with figurehead.  The Forward Plan would concentrate on maximising the use of space in the building.

All officers were re-elected unanimously.  After many years of service, Isobel Burrows stepped down from the Committee.  She was replaced by Mary Wilson and the remaining Committee were re-elected en bloc.  Claire Morgan was re-appointed as Auditor.

After refreshments, John Branfield gave an illustrated talk on “Tony Giles – Painter of Cornwall’s Man-Made Landscape”.  He explained that Tony’s father had been an Engine Driver and the magic of travelling to Cornwall by train never left him.  Through his paintings, we travelled from Taunton to Penzance, via St Austell, Truro, Hugus and Redruth.  St Stephen’s Coombe was a favourite place to paint.  In 1961 he achieved his dream of living in Cornwall.  When he settled in Langley Cottage with Hilary, he created a unique garden, complete with a Campanile, an Italianate Temple, a pond and a railway that wound its way around the garden edge.

John was thanked by the Chairman for his fascinating talk.