Sunday, April 28, 2019

Trevithick Day in Camborne, Cornwall

A terrific time was had by all – despite some early rain and wind – in Camborne yesterday (Saturday 27th April) to celebrate the life of its most famous resident, Richard Trevithick (1771-1833), pioneer of high pressure steam-power and constructor of the first steam railway locomotive in 1803. All roads in the centre of town were closed to cars to make way for a day of free entertainment, including steam engines, food stalls, a brass band and the miners and bal maidens dance (not to be confused with English Morris dancing!). The event attracts crowds of up to 30,000 and transforms Camborne with its fine sense of community spirit.

H took me off the busy main drag, down a quiet road and into Holman Park, where Rosewarne House, a Grade II* listed large granite town house stands. It was hard to believe we were still in Camborne. In the six acres of grounds were lawns, an ancient woodland with bluebells and trees in blossom.

Rosewarne House, built in the Greek Revival style during the Regency era, was meant to be having an open day. But we couldn’t see a soul or hear a sound or see any signs. We wandered round the grounds a bit, and were about to leave when I tried the front door to the house and it opened into another world.

A huge fireplace was roaring near the entrance. People were dressed in Regency attire, as if extras from Poldark. There was the sound of a live band coming from another room, and light laughter and the clinking of tea cups and saucers could be heard from afar. Almost immediately a Regency lady with a large feather in her hair asked us if we were part of the tour. We said yes and were guided around the amazing house, which had been left in a state of disrepair for some years and was now being restored back to its former glory.

We were taken up a fine staircase with an elegant wrought-iron balustrade and shown around the huge, sumptuous rooms, all with high ceilings, ample natural light and ornate plaster cornices, ceiling roses, archways and columns. I told the guide I was sold, I'll take one – the feeling of space and light and attention to detail was wonderful. The rooms were being divided into apartments but weren't for sale, the guide informed us; they would be rented as holiday homes, and the house used for events such as weddings. The house was built in the early 1800s for the Harris family, who made their money through mining. Later it was acquired by the Holman family, then became a care home before falling into disrepair. When the tour came to an end we retired to the orangery for free cream teas and the live band.

It had been a fine day: the only way to add icing to the cake (though I'd already had two Victoria sponges and a cream tea) would be some barngainsas mentioned previously, seemingly rare in these parts – but amazingly I picked up ten pretty good records for £1 each in a local charity shop, including the original limited edition yellow vinyl version of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John. Who needs Record Store Day after all?

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