The Miner With A Camera

Clive Benney’s new book about miner and photographer Sammy Solway is now available to buy.

Unfortunately due to Covid-19 the Museum is not open to visit and buy a copy but you can order it at St Agnes Museum online shop.

The Miner With A Camera

It has many previously unseen photographs of St Agnes, Mithian, Trevellas, Cross Coomb and Perranporth.

It is a fascinating story about how this young man, whose aim was to enhance his mining wages, bought a camera and captured so much otherwise unrecorded history.

220 pages including 245 photographs.

Not to be missed.

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.