Actually, I was happy to visit a tin mine museum due to a family history of Cornish miners, plus Mr Walker's Grandpa was a coal miner in the Midlands, so it seemed appropriate to be heading underground. Having spent the day before in the Eden Project with probably every single person in Cornwall (to say it was jam packed seems an understatement), the large, airy space and peace of the mining museum was a blessed relief, and the collections were amazing. My favourite object had to be this picture...
This lovely lady was 17 year old Elizabeth Hill Chappel, who was married to Henry Chappel. Shortly after their marriage, Henry went to work in the gold mines in Bolivia. He wrote regularly, enclosing small amounts of gold, but then all of a sudden the letters stopped. I would assume Elizabeth feared the worst until Henry returned two years later to discover that someone had been stealing his letters and the gold he had been sending.
However, these days it's hard to get away from the truth, especially here in the Walker household. Grandpa Paddy Walker, the miner, was involved in the 1956 accident at his West Mindland's pit which cost many men their lives. Paddy was trapped by some lengths of timber which created a 'teepee' over him and saved his life. Unsurprisingly he was a hard father, but by all accounts a great Grandpa and I'll never forget him crawling on the floor, aged almost 90, after Lily-Rose, his great granddaughter.
|The Miner (c.1900) French School|
|The Miners (1878) George Henry Boughton|
|Going Home (1889) Ralph Headley|
If I can just wander off the point for a moment, a famous Victorian miner has to be M'darling Clementine's father, who was involved in the 1849 Californian gold rush (hence 'a 49er'). I hadn't really thought about how odd the lyrics of this song from the c.1860s are, but they are rather funny. Poor old Clem has enormous feet, falls over a splinter of wood and drowns because her beloved can't swim. He can, however, get over her loss by kissing her sister. Hmmm, all very Victorian I'm sure.
|Fossickers (1893) Walter Withers|
|Miners at rest, with pasty lunch|
To visit the wonderful Geevor Tin Mine, see their website (here) for details.