Exciting wins at Cornwall Museums Partnership Heritage Awards 2023

Roger Radcliffe at the Cornwall Museums Partnership Heritage Awards 2023
Roger Radcliffe at the Cornwall Museums Partnership Heritage Awards 2023

The Cornwall Museums Partnership Heritage Awards 2023 presentation took place at the Royal Cornwall Museum on 8 February.  St Agnes Museum was represented by Chairman, Roger Radcliffe, Vice Chairman, Clive Benney, and Curator, Clare Murton. 

Clare had nominated Roger on behalf of an enthusiastic Committee for the “Leader of the Year” award for which he was one of three people from 70 Cornish museums to have been shortlisted.  Despite the stiff competition at this glittering event, Roger was awarded the “Leader of the Year “ title.  Enormous congratulations, Roger!  Both Roger and Clive were interviewed by Daphne Skinnard from Radio Cornwall.

There was also a category of which the Museum was not aware – “Spirit of the Awards”.  Cornwall Museums Partnership’s Co-Chair and representatives from the World Heritage Site Team chose organisations that they felt most encapsulated the Spirit of Cornwall Heritage Awards – a commitment to excellence in heritage, environmental sustainability and inclusion.  All the nominations in every category were appraised and three larger museums and three smaller ones were shortlisted. 

Everyone at the Museum is proud to announce that St Agnes Museum won first place in the small museums category!

The Museum's two Cornwall Museums Partnership Heritage Awards
The Museum’s two Cornwall Museums Partnership Heritage Awards

The awards, as you can see, are simple blocks of wood with the names of the award and winner.  Clare will have to find somewhere to display these awards in the Museum for next season!

Do you recognise our Wheal Ocean watercolour?

Wheal Ocean watercolour
Wheal Ocean watercolour

Everyone at St Agnes Museum is thrilled to have acquired this exceptionally rare watercolour, dated 24 July 1858, of Wheal Ocean perched on a rocky ledge “on Trevellas Point in Trevaunance Porth”.  In the Royal Cornwall Gazette of 23 March 1849 there is mention of an engine “successfully put to work” at Wheal Ocean, the engineer being Mr T James of St Agnes.  

The watercolour is unsigned and the Museum would love to uncover the identity of the artist. Can anyone help?

Museum reports ‘good year’ with ‘much support’ at 2023 AGM

St Agnes Harbour
St Agnes Harbour

St Agnes Methodist Hall was packed for the 39th AGM of St Agnes Museum Trust on Thursday 2 February 2023.

Welcomed by the Chairman, Roger Radcliffe, the audience heard Treasurer, David Teagle, report a good year with a £5233 balance.  Shop sales exceeded £10,000 for the first time.  Fund raising had raised £1200.  The CCTV had been upgraded and a hearing loop purchased.  Membership fees would remain unchanged for 2024.  Money needed to be kept in reserve for future roof repairs.

Curator, Clare Murton, reported that she had much support behind the scenes from volunteers who were updating the touchscreen, monitoring the humidity and taking photographs of new acquisitions.  The shop area was being refurbished.  New acquisitions included a rare painting of Trevaunance Cove with the engine house of Wheal Ocean.  The Museum was hoping to purchase a portrait of Elizabeth Opie by her brother John.  The Museum had raised £1590, the V&A Purchase Grant Fund had offered a grant of £4750 and a decision from the Art Fund is awaited.

Membership Secretary, Mary Wilson, reported 220 Members, seven more than last year, with 17 new Members.  Three joined that evening.

The Chairman thanked everyone who kept the Museum open, especially the Stewards and Rota Coordinator, John Oaksford.  The Stewards, he said, had an innate desire to inform all that is special about St Agnes.  

The Chairman, Officers and Committee were all re-elected unanimously.  Curator, Clare Murton, announced that the Chairman had been nominated as “Outstanding Cornish Leader of the Year” by Cornwall Museums Partnership.

Chairman, Roger Radcliffe, then gave his lavishly illustrated talk on “The Story of St Agnes Harbour”, which attracted many visitors.  There had been five attempts to build a harbour at Trevaunance, the first beginning in 1632.  The early attempts were swept away by storms.  For the 1669 attempt, Hugh Tonkin enlisted the help of Mr Winstanley, builder of the first Eddystone Lighthouse.  Building the failed harbours caused Thomas Tonkin to run up huge debts in 1719, subsequently purchased by Samuel Enys of Enys who had no interest in the harbour.  Richard Oates, who had promoted the new Quay at St Agnes since 1783, put forward a Bill to rebuild a Pier in Trevaunance Cove.  Plans were announced in 1792 amid much public rejoicing.  There were 13 investors in the Trevaunance Pier Company.  Stones for the construction were brought in by sea.  By 1797 the first delivery of coal had been made and the South Quay was constructed by 1838.

Because the harbour was so difficult to get into, three flagpoles were erected to beckon ships in.  Every ton of coal was shovelled by hand – 11,000 tons being loaded in 1841.  Copper ore was brought over the cliffs from Perranporth by mule train.  In 1876 a French vessel shipped 50 donkeys to France.  In 1871 Regattas were started and people flocked from miles around.  There were sailing races, walking the greasy pole, the duck hunt, and miners’ drilling competitions.  The last regatta was in 1913.  There were four pilchard seines.

Gradually it became more of a leisure harbour, stripped of its equipment.  The first breach in the walls was in 1915, greatly enlarged in 1916.

There were attempts to rebuild the harbour in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 2000s.

Roger Radcliffe shortlisted for Leader of the Year

Roger Radcliffe
Roger Radcliffe

St Agnes Museum’s founder member, longest-serving Committee Member and Chairman, has been shortlisted for a prestigious award.

 Cornwall Heritage Awards 2023 will be presented on the evening of February 8th at the Royal Cornwall Museum.

 Roger Radcliffe was nominated by his colleagues and has been shortlisted for the award of Leader of the Year.

 There were so many reasons to put him forward, not least because: “He is the lasting inspiration for every volunteer and root of our continued success”.

 We all wish him the best of luck in the final selection.