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- 2010 Speakers -

2010 Speakers

Tren Harvey

Ted & Beryl Curnow

Robert Gribben

James McKinnon PROV

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The December Meeting
Christmas celebrations have become a tradition with the Melbourne CAV and 2010 was no exception.  

The Christmas Meeting held on Saturday 12th December was an afternoon of fun.

Our president Neil welcomed everyone and there was rousing singing of ‘Trelawney’. Christmas Greetings had been received from Howard Curnow in Cornwall and these were passed on.

SpeakersTed Curnow reminded us of the Spiritual retreat, ‘Praying with the Cornish Saints’ to be held at the Kernewek Lowender, in May 2011, at the Copper Coast of South Australia. Ted and Robin Pryor will be leading this activity.

With the formal meeting over, Allan Paull was our MC for the remainder of the afternoon.

Community singing of some favourite Christmas Carols; recitations from Judith Crocker; an impromptu recital of Cornish songs by the ‘Four Tenors [Bill, Derek, Ted and Dave]; Christmas Pass the Parcel and a Cornish Quiz, plus jokes from Alan made up the very enjoyable afternoon’s program. Congratulations to Julie Wheeler (visiting from NSW with her husband) and Nancy Vincent who were the winners of the Quiz.

We adjourned for a Christmas afternoon tea with tables splendidly decorated by Beryl Curnow.

Men Singing
The Play

The November Meeting was concerned with the parish of St Just in Penwith – its festival day and its mining heritage.

St Just in Penwith Parish is described generally as being the area west of St Ives. 

The St Just in Penwith Group was formed in 1994 and has a wide range of resources mainly located in the ‘blue’ folders in the resource library. (see link under Groups)

The late Margaret Owens was a stalwart of this group as is Alison Stephen. 

Tren Harvey, a CAV member, was born in St Just and he shared some of his life story with us.

He began working at the Geevor Tin mine at the age of 14, in 1947, as an apprentice studying fitting and machining.
His father and grandfather had both been miners with his father dying of silicosis at the early age of 34. (His grandfather lived until he was 89 and had 14 children.)

Tren decided that mining wasn’t for him and after the completion of his apprenticeship joined the Merchant Navy, as a ship’s engineer, travelling across the oceans, visiting many countries including Australia.

Tren shared with us photos taken on trips back to the St Just area – including the war memorial clock tower, the ‘no go by’ road, his grandfather and his donkey and shay, other family photos which included members of his and his wife Betty’s family and the Geevor mine.

We learned of some of the tasks that Tren was required to do whilst working at the mine through looking at his photos  – repairing rock drills, the crushing machines, small locomotives and to chip and clean the inside of the boilers.

It was no good being claustrophobic as some of the spaces were very tight. Men were required to work 44 hours per week including 4 hours on Saturdays. His first pay was 17/- per week.

He was often required to work when the equipment was not being used on weekends and during the evening. Occupational health and safety concerns were not as they are now and some of the tasks he was required to do were very frightening and extremely dangerous.

It was a very enjoyable and interesting presentation.

The second part of the Mining heritage segment was the viewing of a DVD about Cornish mining. This gave some history of the mining of tin in Cornwall and dealt with the closing of the Geevor and Levant Mines. Various interviews were interspersed with historical footage.

Mining was an extremely hard occupation – people suffered badly from the cumulative effect of arsenic poisoning and the debilitating lung conditions of silicosis and phthisis.

At one stage, in Cornwall, there were 40 000 miners working 300 mines.

Tin finds in South America were cheaper to extract than in Cornwall and the industry suffered greatly.

During the Second World War, with tin required for the war effort, one in ten conscripts was sent to the tin mines and women were recruited again (as bal maidens) to separate the ore.

After the war, the price of tin soared and mines were once again re-opened.

Italian and Polish immigrants were recruited to work in the mines, due to labour shortages, and they were well accepted into the Cornish communities.

In 1985, the price of tin fell from £8 000 per ton to £3 000 per ton. Miners agreed to work 9 hour shifts and receive pay for only 8 hours, in an attempt to keep the mines operating. Miners went to London to seek loan funding of £20 million over 10 years – however this was not forthcoming and many mines closed.

Several years later £30 million was donated to form a Mining Heritage site

Tren Harvey

Alison Stephen

Lindsay Chapman

October Meeting - "The Eden Project" - Ted & Beryl Curnow

While Ted and Beryl lived and worked in Cornwall during 2003-05, they did much sightseeing.  The Eden Project was one of their favourite places and they visited it many times.

We were told of the lost gardens of Heligan which were created by the Tremayne famliy in the early 18th century.  The gardens were neglected after World War 1 and re-discovered in 1990 since which there has been major restoration.

The "Eden Project", located in a reclaimed clay pit is near the town of St Austell.  It consists of large biomes that house plants from around the world in conditions emulating various environments.

We were shown an extensive collection of photos taken by Ted, over their many visits, depicting the Eden Project season by season.

To learn more about the "Eden Project" follow this link


Ted & Beryll Curnow with Neil

September Meeting - Whitening the Black Sheep

Rev Professor Emeritus Robert Gribben was the speaker at the September meeting where he shared with us his research journey into a family member - Joseph Gribben.

A Uniting Church Minister, Robert had been at the Uniting Church Theological Hall before his retirement, had worked in Parishes throughout Victoria, had studied at Cambridge and was proud of his Methodist heritage.

His journey began in the hills behind St Agnes where Joseph Gribben and his wife Eliza (m/s Paull) had 6 children - Joseph, William, Paul, Eliza, Edwin and Lydia. At the time the main industries around St Agnes were farming and copper and tin mining. Three of the brothers came to Australia for economic reasons - Joseph, Paul, and Edwin - hoping to make their fortunes on the Gold Fields of Victoria, all having worked in the mines in Cornwall.

Paul was the great, great grandfather of Robert .

Joseph had always been painted as the ‘black sheep’ of the family and it was his story that Robert was interested in.

Robert was fortunate that he had some named photographs and also access to a diary kept by one of the brothers, Edwin.

He managed to trace the movements of Joseph around Victoria - California Gully and Woods Point, to the Gold Rush in New Zealand and then back to Stawell, Bendigo and Tallygaroopna.

Through the wills of both Joseph senior and junior, Robert was able to extend his knowledge of the family.

He was extremely grateful to a woman at the Goldfields Library in Bendigo who found a memorial notice of the death of Joseph in Cornwall.

Robert Gribben

Cornish Association of Victoria meeting held 21st August 2010

 The speaker for the day was James McKinnon, Manager Online Business Development for the Public Record Office of Victoria.

James gave an informative talk about accessing the records held by the PROV:

    • The PROV occupies some 90 kilometres of shelf space in North Melbourne.
    • Many of its records are being digitized under a volunteer arrangement with the Church of the LDS.

James McKinnon