Recently a lovely lady called Helen got in touch as her grandfather had worked at Tolgus Mill. We were lucky enough that she kindly shared the story and photos of this amazing link to Cornish tin milling history. It’s a story that really demonstrates the difficulties of the time and the effect of world events on Cornwall and the families who lived here…
A family link to Tolgus Mill
Helen’s grandfather Richard, worked at Tolgus Mill in the early 1900s. He was most likely an Accountant here as that was the job listed on his marriage certificate. He lived with his wife, Miriam, just up the road at Tolgus Place, Redruth. This photo is of Richard Staunton:
They had four children all born at Tolgus Place between 1908 and 1913. Firstly Richard, secondly Violet, then Ethel (Helen’s mum) and James. Here is their son, Richard, who was born in 1908. This photo was taken in the garden of their house at Tolgus Place:
Sadly however, Miriam died of TB in 1913 and six-week-old James died shortly afterwards. They were buried together in Camborne. Here is Miriam:
When World War 1 began in 1914 and Richard left Tolgus Mill to go to war. When Miriam had passed away the year before it was her dying wish that her girls would be sent to a convent to be looked after properly. Subsequently the two sisters were sent to a Catholic orphanage in Penzance aged just 3 and 18 months. Little Richard (age 6) had to walk for three days to find his Grandmother who lived on Dartmoor.
Richard returned from the war and died in 1947.
Ethel as a young child.
Ethel wasn’t able to walk until she was five due to Rickett’s and unfortunately lost her sight aged 12 from Chicken Pox. After that the nuns sent her to a hospital in London where at age 18 she found herself alone in the grounds in a thunderstorm, terrified. However, she took shelter in a tiny outhouse and heard a voice in her head say ‘don’t be afraid, its only God’s finger’. From that moment on her sight was perfectly restored! She lived in a closed convent until the age of 28 when she then joined the ATS during World War Two – what a contrast that must have been to go from living in a closed convent where they only went out three days a year, to being in the ATS and helping the war effort. Ethel won two medals for her role with the ATS where she stayed for the whole of the war.
Do you have any links to Cornish tin milling history? Get in touch if you do!