Thursday 18 December 2014

Girlguiding on Desert Island Discs

Have a renewed interest in Girlguiding ever since we have been working on Heart of Conflict with Camborne Guides. So great to hear Julie Bentley (Chief Executive of Girlguiding) on Desert Island Discs: easy to catch up with on BBC radio iPlayer - won't spoil the show by revealing her luxury item. Her take on Guiding reflects what we've seen in our work with Camborne Guides:
"It is not about itchy brown uniforms and sewing and baking. It is a modern, contemporary, vibrant organisation."

Wednesday 17 December 2014

Putting up posters in Camborne

Distributing posters in Camborne about our project Heart of Conflict, marking the centenary of World War One. An obvious place is the library (underneath I now notice a poster for Cat Neutering  - £5) and a local hardware store which has morphed over the years into a place for collectors' miniature vintage cars. The owner, Mr Tom, is just visible here through the window. The thinking is that people who pass are interested in history...

Friday 12 December 2014

Thursday 11 December 2014

The soldier who never sleeps

Arrive at Paddington Station on the sleeper from Cornwall at 6:45 am and walk past the statue of the reading soldier.
His head is tilted and he's still reading.
The wreaths and crosses left after the Remembrance Day service more than a month ago are still there.

Guides' enthusiasm strikes positive blow for girls

It has been great working with Camborne Guides in Heart of Conflict (our project marking the centenary of World War One in west Cornwall).  The training day that we held at Azook was an eye opener - they were so focussed, enthusiastic and eager to learn.

Was interested to read this report on girls' attitudes from the Girlguiding UK.  As part of its Girls Matter campaign, Girlguiding UK is calling on the government to introduce guidelines for dealing with sexual bullying and harassment in schools.

“The sixth annual survey reveals that sexism and harassment are becoming a part of daily life for British girls, with almost 60% of girls and young women aged 13 to 21 reporting sexual harassment at school or college and 20% experiencing unwanted touching. The survey, which polled more than 1,400 girls and young women across the UK, warns that such experiences are coming to be seen as just “a normal aspect of being a girl”.  NCB Policy & Parliamentary Information Digest, 8 Dec 2014

Reminded me of the impressive 'Like a Girl' ad earlier this year from Always, the feminine hygiene brand owned by Procter & Gamble. The ad addresses (what Always identifies) as self esteem issues in young girls. More than 53 million people have already viewed it on YouTube. It's worth a look.

Tuesday 9 December 2014

Thank you, Samar!

We're lucky to have Samar Abbas helping us with design work on Heart of Conflict.
Samar was a winner in our 2007 project The British Sari Story. Click here for a gallery - including his wonderful 'Sari for the iPod generation'  We ran a national competition for British sari patterns on the 60th year since Indian independence.

Monday 8 December 2014

Camborne Guides think of messages for WW1 troops

Faye cutting out her suitcase
Camborne Guides, who are working with Bridging Arts on our Heart of Conflict project (marking the centenary of World War One), are hard at work thinking what they would have sent to loved ones who left home to fight on the front in 1914.
They are creating small cardboard suitcases and writing their messages inside.
Some even included items that they might have sent.

Philippa and Milly putting the final touches to their cases. Philippa includes sweets.

Saturday 6 December 2014

War memorial once commemorated Camborne family

The World War One memorial at Treslothan, near Camborne in Cornwall, was previously a memorial to the Pendarves family which created the 'model village' there in Victorian times.
Canon James Sims Carah, vicar at nearby Penponds, pointed this out in his book on the Camborne area written in the 1920s.
"There can be only one opinion of the beauty of the village outside the Church. It is one of the prettiest spots in the whole neighbourhood. In the centre stands the Cross which has been lately adapted to form the Parochial War memorial to those who fell in the Great War." J Sims Carah 'The Parish of Camborne' 1924

Friday 5 December 2014

School photo captured innocent age as war loomed

Very poignant to see this May Day photo of girls at College Row School, Camborne in 1914: this surfaced during our research for our Heart of Conflict project marking thecentenary of World War One. Months later, World War One broke out.  The girls are bedecked with wild flowers: it really carries a feel of another age, wiped out by the war years.

This photograph appears in David Thomas's book Camborne (reprinted in 2010 by the History Press).

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Camborne resident provides a wealth of info

A second visit today, this time to Camborne to see Mrs Valerie Griggs who responded to a letter that we placed in the West Briton newspaper as part of our Heart of Conflict project, asking if anyone had memorabilia (objects, photos, stories) related to World War One.
Mrs Griggs phoned to say she had loaned several objects to Redruth School  (some are pictured in yesterday's blog post). She lived most of her life in Redruth but went to school in Camborne.
And she is prepared to be interviewed about her collection, and her family's experience, by Camborne Guides.  This will be a fascinating exercise.
Mrs Griggs also had lots of suggestions and contacts: research has been done into the War Memorial at Roskear Church. She has also worked closely with Cornwall Family History group.
Also such interesting pieces of information.
The names on Camborne Church war memorial have been taken off the wall because of the damp - and not replaced as yet.
Captain Blackwood - doctor in Camborne who served in World War One and kicked off the rugby matches we are researching between Cornish and Devon teams - lived at Blackwood House (Roskear) now a residential home. (Amazingly Martine Knight today also remembered Captain Blackwood, who survived the war and worked as a doctor for  many years in Camborne).
Mrs Griggs mentioned a Christmas tree festival at Camborne Church. There is apparently a 'World War One' Christmas tree.

Helston Museum pieces together personal stories

Working on Heart of Conflict (our project marking the centenary of World War One) -  visit Helston Museum to see a very old friend, Martine Knight, who started at Leedstown Primary School on the same day as me - more years ago than I like to remember.
Martine - unchanged - has led Helston Museum's fantastic work on marking the centenary of World War one. She and her team of volunteers have researched the names on the town's war memorial (in the churchyard) and created folders on each name. They displayed simple boards with information in a stark and moving exhibition in the autumn. This is just the first stage of a four-year plan to mark the centenary of the war.
Also in the pipeline - improving the town trail (to pass the houses where soldiers lived), renovating graves of those who died at home (Martine herself has done a lot of this), exploring the role of women in the war - and finally in 2018 a trip to the battlefields and war graves.
It's a fantastic effort and grounded in something so solid: the war memorial itself.
The museum is also a revelation. There's so much in it. In the corridor I noticed a grandfather clock decorated with carved bone (left over bones from the owner's lunch!).
This wonderful cushion was on display earlier in the autumn. It was embroidered by a soldier from the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.  The Cornish coat of arms and motto 'One and All' are visible in the centre.
It was part of a 'therapy' kit given to convalescing soldiers - or even soldiers in Prisoner of War camps.
There's something poignant about the pastel colours, delicate beading and gold threads, worked by worked by someone who not so long previously had seen the carnage of the trenches.

Tuesday 2 December 2014

Redruth School puts on a stunning display

Karin Saunders (Camborne Guide leader) and I were astonished this morning to visit Redruth School to see its extraordinary exhibition on World War One. This is the brainchild of history teacher Lucy Johnson who has clearly worked tirelessly to make this a stunning success.
A few photos will give a flavour of the display, but the attention to detail and the extraordinary creativity in its construction need to be seen in person.

Monday 1 December 2014

Camborne Guides plan centenary interviews

Great to visit Camborne Guides this evening and to see them hard at work making Christingles!
A feeling of excitement is abroad as Christmas approaches - but they are still evidently keen on interviewing and working more on Heart of Conflict.
We've discovered letters written by Dolcoath tin miners at the Front who write back to their boss as Christmas approached. Some of the Guides are going to record brothers or cousins or uncles of a similar age reading these letters. A surprising number have relatives currently in the forces. Digital recording specialists at Azook have kindly loaned us a recorder for a few weeks so we can do this.
A group photo: the Guides love group photos! A huge thank you once again to Guide leader Karin Saunders for facilitating this.

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Maisie's photo

Finally found the link to the online version of the West Briton's story about Camborne Guides training at Azook a couple of weeks ago. Click here to view the article.
Great to see that photo two in the gallery features the diminutive and lovely Maisie, who was hidden by others in the main picture.

Friday 21 November 2014

School exhibition includes WWI trench

The History Department at Redruth School has created an exhibition commemorating World War One – there’s been an Open House this week so that people from outside the school can drop by to see it.

This has been the brainchild of history teacher Lucy Johnson and students have created a trench with barbed wire. And also resourced materials and researched family history to discover more about the people who fought and lived through the war.

The official opening ceremony took place on Wednesday 5 November and was attended by Commander John Lea, Executive Officer of RNAS Culdrose, Redruth Town Mayor, William Tremayne, Sgt Jamie Callister, Mr Aidan Wood, British Army Veteran and Military Historian and Sgt Rob Warr.

Really hope to be able to see this before it closes.

Thursday 20 November 2014

Camborne Guides hit the headlines

We made the papers! The West Briton today features a piece on the Guides' training session at Azook, Pool, a couple of weeks ago. It's great to see the project showcased in this way...  The photo shows the Guides practising their interview techniques....

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Camborne Rugby Club marks World War One centenary

Camborne Rugby Club marked the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One with a commemorative match last Saturday (15th November 2015). This was triggered by a cutting unearthed by our researcher George Harris at the Cornish Studies Library, Redruth. George discovered that Camborne Rugby Club had sent a rugby ball out to the front in 1915 and local men had organised matches between teams from Cornwall and Devon.
Here a bugle player from Camborne Youth Band plays the last post.

Monday 17 November 2014

Camborne's World War One contribution: a summary

This article from The Western Morning News is worth reproducing in its entirety.
7th July 1921


Underneath the Camborne Parish Church war memorial, which will be unveiled and dedicated this month, a record has been placed of events in Camborne between 1914 and 1919. Written on parchment, at the request of the committee, by Mr. Francis J.Stephens of Reskadinnick, Camborne, it has been built into the base of the cross. If it should survive the ravages of time, some future age may thus read what Camborne went through in these trying years. The record is as follows:


"In this short account of the doings in Camborne in The Great War necessarily cursory, I have decided to use no names at all, as to do so would be invidious. Suffice it to say that a fairly high percentage of the inhabitants of the parish served in some capacity or other during the war - a percentage only rivalled or exceeded by a few other places in the West of England .

"Of these many made the last supreme sacrifice, a few were selected for well-deserved honours, and all, as far as painstaking research has discovered, served their King and country with zeal and to the upmost of their ability.

"I have troubled to search the records of previous wars, and find that the great Napoleonic struggles which ended in the battle of Waterloo were also largely supported from Camborne parish. No less than 18 were in the fight at Waterloo, and at Trafalgar there were 45 seamen from Camborne alone - a very creditable performance for those days, and doubtless having much to do with the patriotism and influence of two great Cornishmen, General Sir Richard Hussey Vivian and Admiral Boscawen.

"Early in 1914 Camborne was in the throes of a small mining excitement. The Suffragette disorders had hardly caused comment, the Irish troubles had affected it not at all, but after the dispute at East Pool Mine as to the alteration of a pay-day and the rash utterances of the Mayor of Truro as to the alleged high percentage of tin going down the Red River has caused a great deal of commotion.

"The effect of the declaration of war was indeed, throughout the country stunning. At one ticketing, sale prices had ruled as high as £168 a ton, and things generally were allowed to be, even by the Camborne miners, quite prosperous. At the next ticketing all was consternation, Government had seized not only all the tin stocks but had prohibited the sale of tin outside the country, except under rigorous control. Then the mines themselves came under control.

"The populace generally, as, indeed, in all the West, remained for long uncertain and semi-paralysed. All the bolder and more reckless spirits, including many young and ardent (the School of Mines at Camborne practically "en masse"), rapidly found their way into the services. The average recruiting for the Navy we find more than trebled. This was to be expected in a maritime county. The call for the land services was, however, for a long time but feebly responded to. War was a strange and unknown adventure.

"Recruiting marches through the county, with meagre results, ended largely in abuse and recriminations, in which many were unfairly held up to obloquy by people who entirely failed to understand the Cornishman and how to deal with him.

"As the war went on and the public indignation grew, the miners, like other people, became inflamed and, by the summer of 1915, Camborne had sent a large proportion of her young men into training. The Territorials had long gone. At one time, the proportion was 4 to 1 in comparison with all the other Western towns, excepting Falmouth which, with its close connection with the Navy and large garrison, was naturally a leading unit.

"A Miners' Battalion was formed as the enthusiasm grew, and the men from Camborne and districts about can well claim the honour of being pioneers in the new branch of modern warfare - deep mining and tunnelling in advance of the trenches.

"By the end of 1915, at least 1000 men from the parish were enlisted. Of these 250 came from Dolcoath Mine.

"As in other towns, Camborne became a training centre for a small portion of Kitchener's or the New Army.

"The great demand for shells and explosives was met by Camborne in an extraordinary fashion. The district is equipped with at least three large factories and several smaller ones, all well equipped with fine machinery - foundries and factories containing some of the most elaborate gear in the West of England. All these centres were speedily converted from making rock drills and saftey fuse to war time usages and were about the first to be turning out material for the Ministry of Munitions.

"Camborne produced not only machines and munition worker,s but provided chemists, one at least an extraordinary genius, whose devotion to his duty probably hastened his decease. It is indeed remarkable how readily Cornwall helped in these particular matters.

"With an unusual number of explosive works in existence and large foundries, it was one of the first counties to begin relieving the harassed Government, and the work turned out was really of very high class.

"If Camborne helped with explosives and shells, a large factory nearby was also supplying the Government with exquisitely fine steel, flexible cordage for aeroplanes in quantity from the earliest start of air warfare.

"Of individual happenings, there is no space for comment here. Several of Camborne's inhabitants won decorations and honours, more strove mightily for the cause in obscure and utterly unaccustomed positions as interpreters and even as detectives and spy-watchers. Of their adventures, some are outspoken enough, others have been reticent and will remain so.

"Now with the war over and Government control removed, the district is passing through another crisis - one threatening the very life and future of all its industries. These are grave times; not a single mine of over 300 a century ago remains at work, but it may be remarked that, often when hope seems dead and life all but extinct, some rallying instinct prevails and recovery is rapid and permanent. Let us hope, therefore, that the mining industry and it's satellite industries may again see a recovery and that the roar of crushing stamps and the rattle and bang of industrial machinery may once again be heard in the land."

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Paddington Station falls silent for Remembrance Day

At 11am on 11 November, 2014, London's Paddington Station fell silent for two minutes.
It was a moving ceremony next to the statue by Charles Sergeant Jagger on Platform One. The soldier, who is reading, is caught in a moment of reflection -- all the more poignant because the station is so busy.
This morning we remembered men who worked at Paddington who had died in battle over the past century, not just World War One.

Apparently 6,000 people gathered when the statue was originally unveiled. There were nowhere near that number this morning, but there were a couple of hundred. The station itself is cathedral-like. It was a memorable service.

Sunday 9 November 2014

Remembrance Sunday: Praze Youth Club lays a wreath

Remembrance Sunday in Praze, near Camborne: lots of different local groups show their respect for the dead - not just from World War One, but subsequent conflicts too. Earlier this year, a local soldier from Horsedowns was killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. Photos by Lisa Williams.
Two members of Praze Youth Club lay a wreath.
Just visible: a message from Praze Fair Show committee. 'You gave your tomorrows for our today.'

Thursday 6 November 2014

How the training went - thoughts from Camborne Guides and Azook

We didn't get in the West Briton alas despite my best efforts! Nonetheless we've had some great feedback from last week's training at Azook, Pool.

“It’s great to see young people with such enthusiasm and energy exploring the past through cutting edge technology.This is an important part of preserving the area’s history. Our mission at Azook is to build cultural confidence and this exercise does just that.” Tim Robins, Azook
 “The Guides were learning about digital recording but also lots of life skills, including how to respond sensitively to older people with whom they might not normally have contact.” Sue Norfolk, leader 7th Camborne Guides.

“It’s quite an honour to be able to be part of this project and part of this occasion to mark the centenary of the war.” Kathryn, 14, Guide from Praze.

Pictured: badges on Alicia's fleece, sewn on with great care and expertise.

"Your young people impressed us with their enthusiasm, cheerfulness and impeccable manners," said Tim from Azook. "They were a delight to teach and a credit to your organization."
I totally agree: they were an impressive group of girls, a credit to Guide leader Sue Norfolk and Karin Saunders who works closely with her


Wednesday 5 November 2014

Camborne Guides train at Azook, Pool

A great day of training at Azook, Pool. Azook is a community interest company (not-for-profit) that specialises in creating archives of sound, photography and film.  Eight Guides from the 7th Camborne group came along during half term to learn how to make digital recordings that will be used in our project, Heart of Conflict.

The aim? To capture precious memories from World War One. Now they know how to create and edit digital recordings, Guides will interview older people in the Camborne/Redruth area and gather their stories.
It was great to have the chance to meet Radio Cornwall veteran broadcaster Ted Gundry.

Ted gave tips on how to interview and crucially how to put people at their ease - very important if you want to get 'the story'.

Everyone practised interviewing each other under the supervision of Azook's co-founder Tim Robins.

Lunch was at nearby McDonalds - a treat for all - it was half term, after all!

Refreshed, everyone moved on to the next stage after a group photograph. Time to start interviewing and recording for real.

There is amazing free software now that can be used for editing.

The Guides used this to polish up their recordings.

It was a great day. Everyone concerned enjoyed it hugely.
Very many thanks to the Guides and their leaders Karin Saunders and Sue Norfolk, as well as to Azook for organising and hosting the training.
Next steps: practising, perhaps, on our mobile phones. But then ... real interviews as we collect objects and stories for our exhibition opening in Cornwall Studies Library, Redruth, in February.
This is the recorder we were using.

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Heart of Conflict - official press release

It always takes quite a bit of time to put together a press release - so thought it worth putting this one up on the blog. It has been signed off by the Heritage Lottery Fund and may well go up on their website.....


Girl Guides, volunteers and local historians in Camborne, Redruth and surrounding parishes in west Cornwall are joining together to collect memories, objects and stories 100 years on from World War One in a project funded through a grant of £6,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) First World War: then and now programme and run by the charity Bridging Arts.

“This project, Heart of Conflict, will bring volunteers together to research just what happened when dozens of young men joined up in west Cornwall in 1914 and subsequently,” says Bridging Arts trustee Susan Roberts. “So many never returned. We are thrilled to have received backing from the HLF so we can work with groups and volunteers to uncover stories and objects to create an exhibition recording this history and showing ways that the conflict affects people’s lives today.”

Camborne Girl Guides, trained by Pool-based community enterprise company Azook, will visit residential homes locally to record stories and memories. Praze Women’s Institute and other community groups are collecting objects, and talks by local historians and visits to memorials and museums will be arranged.

In February a selection of objects, recordings and stories will go on display at Cornwall Studies Library in Redruth. This exhibition will subsequently tour to other libraries, churches and schools – so that as many people as possible can view them and add to the collection. A website, created especially for the project, will be regularly updated with photographs, background and recordings.

An Education Pack will be written around this that schools across the country can download.

Explaining the importance of HLF’s support, the head of the HLF in the South West, Nerys Watts, said: “The impact of the First World War was far reaching, touching and shaping every corner of the UK and beyond. The Heritage Lottery Fund has already invested more than £58 million in projects - large and small - that are marking this global centenary. With our new small grants programme, we are enabling even more communities like those involved in the ‘Heart of Conflict’ project to explore the continuing legacy of this conflict and help local young people in particular to broaden their understanding of how it has shaped our modern world.”


Notes to editors
1. About Bridging Arts
Bridging Arts aims to tackle difficult social issues through art-related projects. For more information, visit or call Susan Roberts on 0794 12 52 444.

2. About the Heritage Lottery Fund
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported more than 37,000 projects with over £6 billion across the UK. Follow us on twitter @heritagelottery #understandingWW1

Through its First World War: then and now programme, HLF is making at least £1million available per year for six years until 2019. It will provide grants between £3,000 and £10,000 enabling communities and groups right across the UK to explore, conserve and share their First World War heritage and deepen their understanding of the impact of the conflict.

To find out how to apply for funding visit If a group needs a grant of more than £10,000 for a First World War project, it can apply to HLF through its open programmes

UK Government Centenary plans

In June 2013, the Government set out its plans to mark the centenaries of the First World War commencing in 2014. These plans include a £35m refurbishment of the First World War galleries at the Imperial War Museum (IWM); The Government’s principal partners in the commemorations will be the Heritage Lottery Fund and the IWM, but will encompass support for a multitude of other initiatives, large and small, as they come together in the months and years to come.

For further information, images and interviews, please contact
Susan Roberts, Chair of Trustees at Bridging Arts on 0794 12 52 444 or

Friday 17 October 2014

Final meeting of the week: touching base with Karin Saunders

Friday. The week ends - as it started!  - at Weatherspoons, Camborne.
It is not actually raining but it's a blustery afternoon.  The entrance tells a story of its own: Christmas is on the way.  The spade door handles are clearly a concession to Camborne's mining past. And beyond an elderly lady is having tea. It's a warm, inexpensive place where it's possible to spend a quiet Friday afternoon. (How different will it be later in the evening?!)
Karin Saunders, Camborne Guide leader, and I run through the week's meetings and developments in Heart of Conflict. My "to do" list is updated.
Karin points out that I could do with a highlighter....

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