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Books with local interest

The following books have a connection with St Teath or the immediate area. Many local villages now have an account of local history in print, for example Delabole, St Tudy, Port Isaac, but there are no recent accounts of the history of St Teath or the Parish of St Teath. It's time for someone to remedy this omission before memories dim and old records and photos are lost.

The short reviews below cannot do justice to the breadth of detail in some of the books, but they may wet your taste for further reading. Recently published books may be available from the County Library service and can often be bought online at a discount to the prices below.

Connections Aspects of the History of North Cornwall

Catherine Lorigan, Pengelly Press, 2009, pp 346, ISBN-13 978-0-9554792-1-2 £22.00 Amazon reviews: n/a. Copy at Camelford Library.

Connections is an eclectic mix of accounts of North Cornwall people and places leading on from the research carried out by the author when working on her previous book on Delabole (see below). There are several chapters relevant to the history of St Teath including Wills of the St Teath parish in the 17th century, Ann Jefferies and her contemporaries, Migration of the Martyn family, Mills and Mill houses of the Allen and Camel valleys and Vernacular Architecture. Chapters on Music and musical instruments, Thomas Rickard Avery - a Cornish Maverick and Potters and Pottery also feature. This book is well written and exhaustively researched, illustrating just how far the strands of history interconnect in North Cornwall and beyond. See also the book below 'The Cornish Overseas' by Philip Payton for more information on migration from Cornwall.

Following the River Camel

John Neale, Amberly Publishing, 2011, pp 127, ISBN 978-1.4456-0019-2 £12.99 Amazon reviews: n/a. Copy at Camelford Library.

John Neale, in a well written book, describes the River Camel and neighbouring places of interest from its source near Davidstow to the estuary beyond Padstow. The scope is quite wide ranging for it includes aspects of the history of Davidstow, Camelford, St Teath, St Breward, St Tudy, Blisland, Helland, St Mabyn, Wadebridge, Rock and Padstow, their respective churches and buildings of particular note. Bridges, both road and rail, are covered at some length. Anyone who loves the Camel and Camel Trail will be sure to find facts of new interest in this well researched book.

The Cornish Overseas A History of Cornwall's 'Great Migration'

Philip Payton, Cornwall Editions Library, Fowey, 2005, pp 466, ISBN 1-904880-04-5 £12.99 Amazon reviews: 5/5

Philip Payton, a very well regarded authority on Cornish history, has provided an astonishing insight into the extent of migration from Cornwall, especially in the period from 1815 until the First World War and after. While the main focus is naturally on the exodus of tin and copper mining workers to the USA, Australia and South Africa, less is described about slate workers from the Delabole area who sought new opportunities especially in Pennsylvania, USA, where slate quarries in such as that at Pen Argyl still reflect their Cornish connections. The index usefully documents many Cornish family names and is a useful resource for those seeking family histories of the period. Recommended.

Pennsylvania Slate Beckons the Cornish Quarryman 'to North Americay'

Carolyn Parsons Bray, Harry Bray and Brad Landon, Limited edition, pp 203, Slate Belt Heritage Center, Bangor, Pensylvania www.slatebeltheritage.org

This book is in some ways complementary to the books by Catherine Lorigan and Philip Payton in that it explores the cultural roots of the Cornish in Pennsylvania, but from an American perspective. Bangor and Pen Argyl lie in the slate belt of Pennsylvania, so the focus is on connections to the Delabole area. An introduction to the first arrival of Cornish quarrymen is followed by a wide ranging account of Cornish identity - worthies, traditions and the inevitable pasty. This is followed by a description of the slate industry in Pennsylania and a detailed exploration of families that can trace their roots to Cornwall, including Jayne Mansfield! The sheer effort that has gone into researching this book is a testiment to the interest and enthusiasm placed on Cornish roots by people in the Slate Belt area.
Many thanks to Carolyn Bray for a copy of the book

Sylvanus Trevail - Cornish Architect and Entrepreneur

Ronald Perry and Hazel Harradence, Francis Boutle Publishers, 2008, pp 245, ISBN-978-1-903427-439 £20.00 Amazon reviews: n/a

Sylvanus Trevail was a larger than life character and very well known in architectural circles, at one time being president of the Royal Society of Architects. In three hyperactive decades of the 19th century he completed over 300 commissions, including St Teath and Delabole schools and the King Arthur's Castle hotel shown on the cover. The book is extremely well illustrated and will call to mind many buildings you will have seen before, but never associated with Trevail. Tragically in 1903, aged 52, he boarded a train in Truro and promptly shot himself bringing to an end a brilliant career.

Memories and Records of RAF Davidstowe Moor

David Keast, Wakefields Camelford 2006, pp 56, available at Davidstow Airfield and Cornwall at War Museum. Copy at Camelford Library

David Keast has long experience of Davidstowe having lived at Penhale Farm nearby. He describes his boyhood memories of aircraft arriving at the airfield and friendships with airmen posted there. Light aircraft flew from this high and exposed area since about 1930. 1940 brought war and the hasty construction of an airfield requiring the requisition of 372 acres. A revealing account of life at the airfield and flying incidents emerges from a collection of log books and personal experiences. The book would have been enhanced by the addition of some maps, for local place names and the layout of the airfield are difficult to visualise by those of us not familiar with the area.

A Brief Guide to the Church of St Tetha

Authors - see below, 2009, pp 25 + 9 colour plates. £4 + 50p postage and packing. Proceeds to Church Funds. Copies from Yvonne Tew on 01208 850497 or email yvonnetew@talktalk.net     Amazon reviews: n/a



This guide is based on one written by Rev W J C Armstrong, Rector of Boscastle, about eighty years ago. The 2009 version has additional notes and photos by Yvonne Tew, Churchwarden, which outline changes that have taken place since the first account was written, including the newly restored church roof and church embroidery.

Catastrophe at Delabole

Sylvia Jean Porter, 1997, pp 53 + 20 photos/drawings. Published by Sylvia J Porter, Newhall Green.
Available from Camelford Library     Amazon £2.50 (paperback) when available, reviews: n/a


At around 5 pm on 21 April 1869, a crack appeared in the ground at Landwork Quarry (near the bottom of Medrose). Within minutes, ground in the area collapsed into the quarry and 15 people were killed - the worst single accident at Delabole. The author has researched this event in detail, including circumstances leading up to the accident, the inquest at a pub in Medrose, and background information about the various quarry workings. Five of the victims were carried to St Teath and buried in the New Churchyard.

The Old Delabole Slate Quarry. A sketch by a workman on the quarry

Captain John Jenkin, 1888, pp 44. C H Eveleigh, Launceston. Available from Wadebridge Library


An interesting small monograph which describes most of the operations in the quarry up the latter part of the 19th century. Topics covered include early working at the several quarries (now merged), the removal of slate rock and its conversion to roofing and flooring slate and many other useful objects. The transport of slate to Port Gaverne for onward shipment is covered at length as well as the many accidents, one of which is covered in the book described above. Life was very hard, for the working day was from 7 am to 5.30 pm, so men walking from St Teath would have a very long day of it. A very knowledgeable account written in a style characteristic of its time.

King Richard the Conker Tree

Dianne Potter, 2008, pp 36. £3.99 (£1 from each sale is donated to The British Heart Foundation). Copies from St Teath Post Office, or contact Dianne on 01208 851794. Amazon reviews: n/a



This book was largely written and illustrated by Dianne's late husband Richard Kearney and was recently completed by Dianne, who lives in St Teath. Written for children aged between 8 and 11 years, it tells the story of an imaginary conker tree that is able to speak and tell its story. Inspiration for the story came from the Richard and Dianne's large garden in Middlesex and the conker tree it contained.

Methodism in the Camelford and Wadebridge Circuit, 1743 - 1963

Rev Thomas Shaw, 1963, pp 239. Out of print, but available on loan from Camelford Library. Amazon reviews: n/a

"At St Teath the chapel was built by the reformers, though for a reason that is not quite clear they preferred to use the Bible Christian Chapel for their meetings. In 1869 the trustees bought a plot of land from Elias and Victoria Martyn and on it built a new chapel [in Trevilley Lane] which they settled on the model deed of 1842. The old chapel was then used as a Sunday School."

This typewritten book, which must easily be the most comprehensive account of local Methodism, took the author 15 years to complete and reads like a PhD thesis. It includes a wealth of resource references which would be hard to trace today. Beginning with the visits of John Wesley to Cornwall in 1743 it charts the labarinthine twists of Methodism including the schisms of the Wesleyans and the eventual formation of the United Methodists, beginning in 1907. Many of the chapels described in the book are now converted for residential use or demolished. Interestingly, there are no reports of Wesley visiting St Teath, but he visited nearby Trewalder and preached there on five occasions.

An Illustrated History of the North Cornwall Railway The Southern Railway route between Okehampton, Launceston, Wadebridge and Padstow.

Based on an original manuscript by the late David Wroe of Padstow, Irwell Press, 2008, pp 406, ISBN-13-978-1-903266-89-2. £29.95 Amazon reviews: 4.5/5


David Wroe, the author of the first edition of this book died in 1994, just before it was published, and would have wholeheartedly approved of this greatly expanded update. George Reeve of Irwell Press has invited several new authors to add new perspectives, including a further description of the line which closed in 1966, the rise and fall of services, the lure of the North Cornish coast, trains, structures, permanent way, and signalling. Many pictures by local photographer Ian Barnes of the line and stations as they are today have also been included. Although rather expensive, the size and detail in this book makes it good value, where many of us old enough to have travelled the line can experience a wave of nostalga, mulling over track layouts, timetables and details of the well known Atlantic Coast Express service between Waterloo and Padstow. The book is a classic.

Delabole - The History of the Slate Quarry and the Making of its Village Community

Catherine Lorrigan, Pengelly Press, 2007, pp 270, ISBN-978-0-9554792-0-5 £14.99 Amazon reviews: n/a

The author seems to have left no stone unturned in her exhaustive search of the history of the Delabole, its quarry and anecdotes about it, all carefully referenced - it is no surprise then that the book is based on work for a PhD thesis. Chapters are divided roughly equally between quarry and community. The quarry once provided work for over 600 men including many from St Teath. We learn that in 1863 six men from St Teath, including a butcher, sailed from Port Gaverne with a cargo of slate and were wrecked without loss of life 2 miles north of Port Isaac, probably back in St Teath Parish! It's now hard to believe that Delabole once had 33 shops, four pubs and four Methodist chapels. Of the latter, I liked the statement taken from Thomas Shaw (book above) that 'The Devil would have had a very lean time amongst the Methodists of Delabole'. Throughly recommended.

Old Delabole

Eden Phillpotts, Heinemann, 1915, pp 311, Amazon reviews: n/a
Out of copyright - read online or download text here. Also available from the County Library.


This tale of life in early 20th century Delabole gives an insight into the lives of quarrymen and their families, and demonstrates the extent to which Methodism inextricably underpinned relationships and events at that time. The author shows a considerable depth of knowledge about the quarry and quarrying techniques in the days when hundreds of men and boys worked there. At times enveloped (smothered?) by the flowery language typical of this period, the plot plods innocently along without the drama that we might hope for. If you like cliff-hangers, this is probably not for you, but if you have an interest in local social history then you will find much of interest.

East of Varley Head - Stories from Port Isaac, North Cornwall, 1944-1950

James Platt, Creighton Books, 2003, pp 257, ISBN-978-9080780811 £8.99 Amazon reviews: 5/5

What a delight to read these recollections of a childhood in Port Isaac from 1944 - 1950. Local characters, some remembered to this day, have been closely observed and portrayed in often amusing and wry detail. Who, for example, could forget the no nonsense and dour but very public spirited Dr Donald McDougall Sproull. The leisured pace of life in the village, where folk were largely known by nick-names, is contrasted with the energetic activities of the group of lads with whom the author played. Playground games, exploits around the breakwater, not-so-angelic choirboys and tales of the immensely popular village cinema all contribute to this thoroughly enjoyable and eminently readable account. Don't miss it!

James Platt has since published a book, 'South of Lobber Point', with more stories of Port Isaac, all written in the same enjoyable and often amusing narrative.

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