Bill

spig-stopeThe Chair of Trustees!

I was born 64 years ago just outside Birmingham.  My parents had friends who lived in Pendeen and we spent many summers in Cornwall. I have a vivid memory of walking along the coast path through the bottom of Geevor and seeing the torrents of red water coming down from the Mill.

I was able to visit Geevor on many occasions over the following years and was lucky enough to have a trip underground to bottom of the Sub-Incline level before it finally flooded.

I was fortunate enough to be able to retire at the age of 50 and shortly afterwards Sheila and I moved from Yorkshire – where I spent the bulk of my working life – to Cornwall. In Yorkshire I got interested in caves and this coupled with my interest in history led me into mine exploration.

I first came to Geevor to work as guide – I needed something to do with my life and golf did not really appeal.  I became convinced that the site had huge value and potential. In 2001 I was involved in setting up Pendeen Community Heritage, the charity which won the contract to manage Geevor. This has kept Sheila and I fully occupied ever since.

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3 Responses to “Bill”

    • Bringing the story up to date.
      On 27th November 1944 there was a huge explosion in a bomb store in a gypsum mine at Fauld in Derbyshire. Although my parents lived about 30 miles away, family legend has it that the noise of the expolsion sent my mother into labour and I was the result – so it all started with a mine . . .
      After my birthday I am going to cut down on the time I spend at Geevor. I want to come in for a couple of days each week and spend quite a lot of my time catching up on all the jobs at home that I have neglected for years. I hope I shall be able to continue as a Trustee.
      Geevor has been a large part of my life since the end of 2000. A small group of had decided to tender for the management contract for the mine: we spent a frantic four days over Christmas producing a business plan as a first step in the process which we eventually won.
      It has never been an easy job to run Geevor. Basically, the place has always been and always will be short of money: we rely on people who work for very low wages [or even for nothing!] because they are committed to the site and want to make it succeed. It’s the people here who have always been the best part of the job – they have taught me a huge amount.
      Looking back over the last nine years, I think that PCH’s greatest success is the fact that the site is still open. At a time when museums are finding it hard to survive, it is an achievement. During these years Penzance alone lost two museums.
      It’s good to see the site in good repair – I remember in the early days going down through the Mill to do the morning inspection and having to dodge the rain coming in through big holes in the roof. For me, the novelty of ‘Hard Rock’ has not worn off. I still go in there a couple of times a day and it is great to see visitors getting so much out of it. If our plans for extending the underground tour next year come to fruition, we will have even more to offer next year.
      The job has not been without its frustrations. Managing a site that belongs to a County Council is difficult: all local authorities have huge demands on their funds and it would be wrong to expect them to divert funds away from front line services – I think more and more about care for th elderly! – into areas like museums. A constant dialogue with Cornwall Council will need to go on to make sure that the limited funds they cam put in are spent to the best effect.
      OK, a lttle rant. But I want to finish by saying a big ‘thank you’ to everyone that I have worked with during the past nine years. It’s been hard work at times, often a bit frustrating, but it has never been dull!

  1. Paul Maddern Says:

    My wife and I visited Geevor Mine in May 2011 during a brief holiday from Australia, and after several weeks’ tourism in Europe. Your team has done an absolutely fantastic job to present such a venue! Thought we would only need an hour to see it, but spent several without losing interest – and the underground tour of an 18th century tunnel really capped it off for authenticity compared with other mines I have been to.
    One of the first things that struck us was a poster about a very distant relative, and how the Cornish miners of the 1800’s had emigrated to so many countries. I have heard a saying “3 million Irish in Ireland, 30 million in America” and similar must be true for descendants of the Cornish emigrants.

    We found “The Dry” an impressive and moving exhibit about the people of Geevor – the very last generation of the miners there – and it would be wonderful to see more detail of the earlier generations as well. I heard from the Geevor staff that even local residents are impressed to see the photos and links to not-so-distant relatives, and it is much more so for those of us from far away in both distance and time.
    If you could provide more information on the early mining families and promote this as part of the Geevor attractions, I am sure it would attract a very large pool of potential visitors like ourselves who would love to see more on how our ancestors lived and worked. Are there are old employment records of the miners at Geevor and elsewhere?
    Cornwall appears to be particularly blessed with very good genealogy records – so you have another local asset to use to advantage. The B&B owners we stayed with in Penzance told us they are getting increasing numbers of Australians and Mexicans visiting because of their Cornish miner ancestors. Genealogy tourism is a growing trend and will definitely increase as we gain better internet access to records.
    On return to Australia I have since found from UK Census that two generations of my direct family lineage were tin miners, even the children, and lived next to Geevor in Boscawell for about 15 years before emigrating to the Australian goldfields in the 1850’s. And two other distant relatives were victims in the 1919 man-engine disaster. That makes my visit to Geevor even more memorable, and I will certainly visit again – as I am sure my successive generations will for as long as the Geevor museum remains open.

    Our thanks to your friendly and knowledgeable staff for our very memorable day, as we came without any expectations and left very much impressed !!
    Paul & Meredith Maddern
    Brisbane, Australia.

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