Tweets from Lostwithiel Musuem

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Lostwithiel Museum

 The museum is housed in a Georgian building on Fore Street. It was originally the Corn Exchange and  has also been a school-room, a butchers, then a magistrate's court and the town jail. Nowadays the building houses the Guildhall, which is used for meetings of Lostwithiel Town Council, above the museum.
The museum was founded in 1972 and  it is now is now a fully accredited museum and a registered charity, which is run entirely by volunteers

2018  SEASON

Page updated 21st  January 2018

The Museum is currently closed. We will reopen for the 2018 season on Monday 26th March, closing on Friday 26th October. The museum will be open from 10- 30am to 4-30pm Monday to Friday.

We are currently looking for more volunteers. - Find out more


Our Window Display for March 2018

Our latest window display tells the story of  Queen Victoria's visit to Restormel Royal Mine in September 1846. We also preview the visit of The Man Engine to Cornwall over Easter 2018.

In 1846 Queen Victoria, then aged only 27 years, and Prince Albert were touring in the west country. At 8-00 am on 8th September the Royal squadron sailed from Falmouth to Fowey.The Royal Party then travelled by Royal Carriage from Fowey to Lostwithiel town, Restormel Castle and Restormel Iron Mine.

When they arrived at the mine, Her Majesty, one of her ladies, Prince Albert, and three gentlemen went underground in a train wagon lined with straw and covered in green baize.

The Queen and Prince Albert were conducted through the underground workings for a distance of 270 fathoms (540 yards).   The party got out of the wagon and inspected the lode and the Prince broke off a sample. It was the first time a Queen and Sovereign had ever explored the recesses of a mine.

Queen Victoria wrote in her diary:-

"We drove from Fowey through some of the narrowest streets I ever saw in England. We visited here Restormel Mine. It is an iron mine.  Albert and I got into one of the trucks and were dragged in by the miners. The miners wear a curious woollen dress, with a cap like this and the dress thus and they generally have a candle  stuck in front of the cap.

There is something unearthly about this lit up cavern place. The miners seemed so pleased at seeing us and are intelligent good people.     It was quite dazzling when we came into the daylight again.”

In the following month, Mr Taylor, the Chief Minerals Officer of the Duchy, who had accompanied the party, received Her Majesty's command to distribute fifty sovereigns among the miners.

The mine was renamed Royal Restormel Mine, Market Street  was re-named Queen Street and Albert Terrace and Duke Street  were names given to other parts of the town.

Men often began underground work at the age of 12. Younger boys and women, or "Bal maidens" as they were known,
worked mainly above ground breaking rock. In 1839 7,000 children were employed.  Mines were small, cramped, and hot, with temperatures underground sometimes reaching 60 C. with air that could barely sustain a candle.  Miners often snuffed their candle and worked in complete darkness in order to conserve air.

Death and injury were a fact of everyday life. Rockfalls and explosions not uncommon. Many miners developed Bronchitis, TB and rheumatism from their time underground and few miners were fit to work beyond the age of 40.  There were 340 mines employing 50,000 people in Cornwall in 1862.

There were no cages to haul miners up and down as in collieries as colliery shafts were generally vertical, - in metallic mines shafts were commonly inclined at various and frequently changing angles. Access was by a ladder, and pay didn’t start until they reached the rock face, so the introduction of the man engine in the mid 19th century was welcomed by the miners.

Operation of a Man Engine

The 2018 version of the Man Engine will be visiting Cornwall from 31st March to 2nd April 2018.
Quoting  from Will Coleman, The creator of the Man Engine:-

“Our man engine takes his name from an amazing invention. This was a device that lifted miners up and down the shaft saving them the exhausting job, sometimes 2 hours worth, of climbing long wooden ladders. 

It is just over 100 years ago that at Levant the man engine collapsed and killed 31 men in a most horrific manner.  That is the sort of sacrifice that we are commemorating and we hope that our man engine shows the right level of respect to all of those who over 4000 years worth of Cornish mining history endeavoured and toiled to bring us treasure from under the earth.”

More pictures from our display are available via this link.

Lostwithiel Museum would like to thank  Iteracy Web Design  and Harmony Holiday Cottage for sponsoring our March Window.


Lostwithiel Museum display
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