Federation of Old Cornwall Societies

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Wadebridge Old Cornwall Society



PRESIDENT:  David Bartlett   01208 816307




SECRETARY:  Mrs Margaret Bartlett   01208 816307


TREASURER:  Miss Jane Menhinick  


RECORDER:  Mr David Bartlett







We regret that we have no email contact
















Secretary’s Report ~ October 3rd 2017


Over the last year we have continued to learn more about Cornish heritage and history, with quite a lot of it on our own doorstep.  In November we travelled  “Through Cornwall, Through Time” with Derek Buttivant and Tony Wright, learning about Cornwall’s railways.  Many of these began as mineral lines, eventually transporting passengers and goods too.  Their slides brought back the golden age of rail travel, with busy, prosperous stations, growing industries and towns, with links to the rest of the country.  Our annual dinner at the Swan Hotel was a success and in December we enjoyed Roger and Viv Bennett’s musical entertainment and learnt a few new songs, before enjoying the mincepies and cream so generously supplied by members.  We began the New Year with a visit from Max Simpson, who likes to puzzle us with tools and gadgets from past centuries.  Even he couldn’t find a use for a very short handled shovel, so we remain puzzled even now.  Recycling is all the rage these days, but how often do you find a Napoleonic bayonet holding up the string for a row of peas, as Max did in a Burlawn garden?  On a September day in 1981, Mark Kaczmarek watched the sun over Carn Brea disappear and day become night as he descended into the depths of South Crofty mine for the very first time.  He regaled us with tales of Cornish humour and superstitions underground as well as describing the working practices of Cornish miners.  He left in 1998 when the mine closed due to falling tin prices, but it may now reopen in the near future as prices are up again.


Kingsley Rickard described the engineering genius of Richard Trevithick who was one of the great developers of steam power, but rarely acknowledged outside Cornwall.  The first road locomotive was his “Puffing Devil” which was introduced at Camborne in 1801 and he vastly improved the design for railway locomotives and mine pumping engines.  Kingsley and friends built a replica of the Puffing Devil to celebrate its 200th anniversary and ran it at Trevithick Day 2001.  It still terrifies people and horses at events today!


Ryan Metters gave a vivid account of a chimney sweep’s life and the family business begun by his parents in the 1950’s.  In those days people would expect the sweep to come at their bidding – even on Christmas Day.  Arriving at Pentewan to clean six chimneys, they ended up doing most of the village as people realised they were around.  Cottages to stately homes were all dealt with and a variety of chimney problems too.  Ryan reminded us of the dangers from fires and carbon monoxide poisoning, so “Are your Chimneys Swept Ready for Winter Yet?”


May’s successful coffee morning was on the theme of “Wadebridge and the River Camel”, followed by a trip to Trengwainton Gardens near Penzance, when we enjoyed a beautiful sunny day, which seemed to herald a wonderful summer.  How wrong can you be?


George Hamilton came to talk about what was Europe’s biggest manmade hole in 1987.  Delabole slate quarry is currently 2 miles around, covering 25 acres and owns mineral and freehold rights on a further 100 acres.  From Roman times its slate has been in demand and many a Norman castle was roofed with the coveted material.  Delabole village itself did not exist until 1893 when the railway reached the area and more cottages were built to house slate workers, linking existing hamlets.  2,000 men once worked there, but today there are only 24.


Diane Smith took us around Penryn and Falmouth with some interesting slides and gave a vivid account of trade around the world, the great Glasney Ecclesiastical College at Penryn, built in 1265, but closed by Henry VIII in 1548 and the changing fortunes of these two ports.  From Tudor times Penryn declined and Falmouth developed largely due to the Killigrew family.  The Falmouth Packet ships took letters around the world and vast quantities of gold arrived at Falmouth, to be transported to London by stagecoach under armed guard.


Our July archives evening gave members the chance to look at some of the clothes we hold, plus part of Ada Martin’s photographic collection of Wadebridge in more recent times, which illustrate how much things can change in just a decade.


The successful August coffee morning celebrated our 85th anniversary and we exhibited all the clothing and textiles, along with Ada’s full collection and Margaret Thompson’s photos of past Carnivals.


In September we were back to the railways when David Bartlett gave an illustrated talk about “Wadebridge – a Railway Town” and some were surprised to find Wadebridge had one of the earliest railway lines – and before London got one!!


Crying the Neck was again kindly hosted by the Menhinick family and the weather was perfect.  The lack of a priest was not a problem as we all did the prayers together in the field and church.  Only one coach trip this year, as I didn’t have the time to arrange a later one due to family commitments.  Is there a volunteer in the audience to help with trips next year perhaps?


We now start another year of exploring Cornwall and perhaps all of us could record more of our surroundings for future generations to refer back to.


Margaret Bartlett ~ Secretary













































































Founded: 1932


Colours: Argent & Azure

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Molesworth Street 2012 (Photo: Terry Knight)...

Wadebridge OCS Programme