Category Archives: Cornish Mining

Cornish Archaeologist Hits Out

Further to the post, Natural ‘England’ – rapists of historic Cornish moorland.

A Penzance archaeologist and historian has joined with Cornish MP George Eustice in calling for ‘English’ Heritage to be replaced, in Cornwall, with a locally based body.

Craig Weatherhill, author of several books, papers and articles, is exasperated by what he terms: “This arrogant quango’s disgraceful neglect of, and contempt for, Cornwall’s valuable heritage”.
The latest in a series of incidents stems from a site meeting on Aug 6th, by groups concerned with serial damage to the Tregeseal stone circle, St Just, and associated ancient monuments, allegedly by activities imposed upon the moorland by sister quango Natural ‘England’.
“Initially, ‘English’ Heritage did not want to know,” says Mr Weatherhill, “until the Celtic League, an organisation recognised by the United Nations, became involved. The Assistant Inspector of Ancient Monuments, who attended, promised to produce his recommendations within a fortnight. He failed to do so. Frequent enquiries since then have merely produced adjusted promises, the last being for Oct.19. That has come and gone, and still there is nothing.
“It is nowhere near good enough. ‘English’ Heritage has a long record of turning blind eyes to the damage and destruction of ancient sites in Cornwall, from the Cadbury’s Creme Egg Hunt in 1984, to the utter destruction of numerous sites they are appointed to protect. They ruined the fogous at Carn Euny and Chysauster, and publicly insulted those who spoke out. According to their then Chairman, the latter ‘wasn’t exactly Stonehenge’, which pretty well sums up their whole attitude.
Unless it is a site from which they can turn a profit, they simply do not want to know. In fact, they’ve hived off all the guardianship sites they were appointed to manage to people like the National Trust and the Cornwall Heritage Trust – except for those which generate revenue.”

Referring to the original bid that secured World Heritage Site status for Cornish mining, Mr Weatherhill outlined the actions of ‘English’ Heritage to delist and support the demolition of a Grade II star engine house near St Austell. “EH’s case,” he said, “was that the engine house was worthless as it did not contain an engine. This was astonishingly ignorant, and not only effectively placed all but two Cornish engine houses at serious risk, but almost jeopardised the entire WHS bid. Of course, it need hardly be said that the applicant was a major corporation”.
“At Tintagel in 1998,” he added, “news of the discovery of a piece of slate incised with names of 6th century men, including one called Artognou, was suppressed by EH until the start of the peak holiday season. Then they arranged headlines in every major newspaper, claiming proof of King Arthur. Of course, this was total bilge, but EH was far more interested in the gate money than they were giving historical facts. Our heritage deserves much, much better than this.
“In 1988, Penwith Council wrote to EH, concerned that significant monuments in the area had no legal protection. EH assured them that a radical new Scheduling list was in progress, to be complete within 5 years. It never appeared, not to this very day, but EH kept on giving the Council that assurance.” Mr Weatherhill says. “Then, just last year, I came across a document written by Cornwall’s Historic Environment Service in 2008, clearly stating that all Scheduling in West Penwith had been halted in 1987, EH deciding that the new Environmentally Sensitive Area scheme for Penwith would be adequate protection. Of course, it was no such thing. The ESA had no statutory teeth, and only a voluntary take-up. If that wasn’t bad enough, EH had deliberately lied, several times, to the local authority! I know this to be fact, because I was the officer at the Council who wrote the letters.
“EH’s latest piece of blinding arrogance is to see a play about World War II at Pendennis Castle cancelled because of the quango’s crazy insistence that all reference to Nazis and Jews be written out of the script. It’s unbelievable!”

Mr Weatherhill, who became a Bard of the Cornish Gorsedd in 1981 for services to archaeology, claimed he could cite many more cases of ‘English’ Heritage’s neglect and misrepresentation, least of all that which marketed Cornish Celtic heritage as that of a totally unconnected people. “There is a frankly sinister political aspect to EH’s policies”, he claimed.
His call for the disbanding of ‘English’ Heritage and Natural ‘England’ is also economically sensible, he suggests. “If the government is serious about curtailing expenditure,” he says, “then what is the sense in maintaining two tiers of administration in both fields? Get rid of the national bodies, and devolve their powers to local level and local knowledge. We still await signs of Mr Cameron’s much-vaunted ‘localism’, especially on this side of the Amazon*, so here’s a perfect way to kickstart it.” He added that most Cornish people he had spoken to would be greatly relieved to see the backs of both quangoes.

*This refers to David Cameron’s on-air blunder regarding protests over his proposed transgression of Cornwall’s historic River Tamar border with the statement: “It’s hardly the Amazon, is it?”

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Water, water everywhere…

If anyone was in doubt about the rates we are paying for water services in Cornwall, here’s a little revelation I had a few weeks ago talking to two lovely couples, one from Somerset, the other from Cumbria. The couple from Somerset pay £180 a year to their water provider, the couple from Cumbria £300 and we, in Cornwall pay up to £1200 a year?
What’s the rationale for such difference? Really… what?

As we know, Cumbria and Cornwall both have more water than Somerset in terms of lakes and beaches. Yes. Therefore more tidy up, more spending on xxx.
And clearly the usage in Cornwall rises massively during the silly season, likewise in visitor-rich areas such as the lakes in Cumbria.
It is still a massive disparity.

As we are talking water, why then, are places like Wheal Jane mine near Truro – an incredibly wet mine – under the auspices of the Environment Agency, looked after by (previously) Hyder Water, United Utilities and presently Veolia?

Is it that, with all their tireless work within Cornwall, SWW couldn’t compete with other operators around Britain? After all, they’re too busy fleecing the likes of me and you to worry about getting involved with dirty stuff! They can’t even dig the roads up anymore without farming it out to someone else!

The people of Cornwall are being taken for a ride, left, right and centre and the water problem is one of many.
I’m sure a better person than I, can and will answer the questions posed but really it comes down to the fact we’re all paying over the odds for services here in Cornwall (for the benefit of others) and water, that most of the time, tastes just like the water up Carn Brea swimming pool!


The Duke, the Statue and the Money

Some weeks ago, Charles Saxe Coburg-Gotha or ‘Windsor’ as he likes to call himself, aka The Duke of Cornwall, very ‘kindly’ sent a cheque, for an undisclosed amount (£500 according to An Helghyer’s sources) to the people raising money to erect a statue in memory and honour of the countless miners who lost their lives or suffered debilitating illness from their work underground in the St Just and Pendeen districts.

Now, the good people of St Just and Pendeen have, for years, been doing all they can to raise money to have made and erect this fine statue.
It is expected to cost around £40,000 and they, through various auctions, public events etc have raised thousands towards it but are struggling to reach the target.

My point, is this: I find it a bit sick that the Duke of Cornwall couldn’t have coughed up the remainder in order for this statue, which was first mooted in 2000, to be made.
Since the creation of the Dukedom in 1337, the successive Dukes have made a pretty penny out of Kernow over the years, with Charles being the latest leech.
For all the Duchy of Cornwall’s contemporary talk of a ‘Private estate’, anyone with an ounce of historical knowledge knows this to be blatantly not the case. (see here for more info)

In terms of why this is relevant to mining and a miners’ statue is as follows: for a five hundred year period, ‘tribute’ or ‘coinage’ was levied against the tinners of Cornwall by the successive Dukes of Cornwall. This meant vast sums of money worked for, by Cornishmen in blood and sweat, leaving the country and going into the pockets of the gad-about Dukes to lead excessive and lavish life-styles.

It has been worked out, that in today’s money, the revenue from tribute over the five hundred year period it lasted, is around £20 billion.

Even after tribute had ceased, vast sums still poured (and still does) from Cornwall to the Duke.
Edward Albert Saxe Coburg-Gotha (Edward VII) was Duke of Cornwall from 1841 until he became King in 1901. At 19, his wealth from the Duchy stood at, in today’s terms, £60,000,000. Huge amounts of Duchy income were spent on his gambling and the debts there accrued. In 1847, whilst the Cornish men, women and children from whom the spoils were drawn, were dying in the streets from starvation, the Duke was living it up, sailing down the Nile, accompanied by an entourage of boats containing some ten thousand pints of beer, three thousand bottles of champagne and four thousand bottles of claret!

And so to today. Ol’ Charlie can only spare a donation. You’d think that out of some sort of thought for the common man, whom over the centuries has created the wealth and paid for the homes this peculiar man now enjoys, he might see his way to shelling out forty grand (a paltry sum) in order to honour some of the bravest men who ever lived (and who actually knew what a hard day’s work was!).
Alas no. After all, he’s only the head of a Private Estate, isn’t he?