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‘Heartlands’, in case you hadn’t heard, ‘is the fruition of a long held ambition in the community to redevelop the Pool area of West Cornwall which was left largely untouched following the demise of the tin mining industry and final closure of the mines in 1998, after nearly 400 years of activity.’ And… it is finally open.

I went at the weekend but it was only a quick tour so I didn’t really have time to get to the ‘heart’ of the matter. All the same, here are some first pics from this freshly opened ‘cultural playground’ in Pool, between Redruth and Camborne.

As you can see it’s a slick-looking and multifaceted new ‘zone’ encompassing an adventure playground for kids (hundreds of delighted squeals), the Red River Cafe (sensitively designed, reasonably priced, standard cafe fare), a shop (a rather curious mix but did at least contain Hager Vor hoodies and Natalie Bonney’s lovely ceramics), workshops and an exhibition centre, plus – most importantly – the carefully restored mining remnants and buildings that form part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As per, Cornwall Council couldn’t resist slapping a pay & display car park on something trumpeted as a free attraction for the community. Still, that won’t stop most locals parking for free on one of the many surrounding streets of the industrial estate instead. Baker Tom’s little oasis in the desert is also just round the corner – weekdays only, mind.

www.heartlandscornwall.com

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If you didn’t catch this week’s episode of Grand Designs, in which Kevin McCloud follows the renovation of a dilapidated Cornish enginehouse from beginning to near-end, you should definitely watch it online here, where it will be available for the next month.

Apart from being a fascinating insight into the demands of turning one of Cornwall’s crumbling mining remnants into a home, with the attendant historical and physical challenges, the programme is a lovely little portrait of how things work in a Cornish community.

Mind-bogglingly multi-skilled stonemason Adam Purchase manages to make it all happen on an improbably small budget. He achieves this mainly by being generally adaptable and creative but also by calling in favours from neighbours and friends with skills (while giving out favours just as generously), mate’s rates, and gentleman’s agreements. At one point, one of the helpers says ‘Who needs that cash stuff, eh?’ and I think that’s my favourite line of the show. Well, it’s a good job really, since there’s bugger-all of it in these parts!

Did anyone work out where it was? I didn’t.

What do you make of these pics? Not mine, sadly.

It’s great to see this crisp, modern new website that has been launched to educate and inspire people about Cornish Mining World Heritage – it’s so good, it was even ‘site of the week’ in New Media Age last week.

I’ve noticed that most things to do with mining history in Cornwall are accompanied by a crappy low-res website that hasn’t been updated since, well, the beginning of the internet, and grainy, uninspiring photography.

And it always strikes me as a bit of a shame, since mining heritage of Cornwall is not only scenically pretty mind-blowing but also internationally highly significant, yet it seems to get rather overlooked by all but those with a corduroy-trouser specialist interest. Myself included — the insufficiently informed Cornishwoman, that is, not the corduroy wearer.

It is with kind permission of Cornish Mining that I am able to publish these superb images on p&c. Picking them out from their image gallery was a task that I indulged in for way too long to the detriment of paid work, and in the end I went for some classics such as Wheal Coates near Aggy and Botallack from above [er, wow], as well some little-known sites such as Wheal Trewavas and South Wheal Frances. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did — there’s tons more gold ore on the website.

Time to click on the ‘Delving Deeper‘ tab perhaps!

www.cornish-mining.org.uk

Cornwall is in the spotlight on Google today – check out Richard Trevithick’s google-ised steam loco, to commemorate his 240th birthday.

An Illogan boy, and engineer at Ding Dong mine (yes indeed, this is partly an excuse to type out ‘Ding Dong’, my favourite place name in Cornwall, pipping Praze-an-Beeble to the post), Trevithick is Read the rest of this entry »

p&c january header: artist’s studio Newlyn

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