||From the outside, 50 Fore Street, home to Millers Estate Agents, doesn’t resemble a time machine. But when, a year ago, the attic was investigated via a trapdoor high in the ceiling, the staff stepped back in time.
Up there they discovered a desk, a stool, the nub of a candle, and on the desk, two billspikes, impaled upon them huge numbers of bills, forming two blackened and dusty balls.
These billspikes and their contents were carried off to the Hayle Archive, in Sea Lane, where the Archive volunteers spent many hours gently removing the bills, dusting them with soft brushes, and filing them.
What emerged was a fascinating glimpse into the past, between 1910 and 1912, when what is now Millers Estate Agents was then the home and thriving business of Charles Knee, described in correspondence as ‘iron monger’ or ‘hardware/oil merchant.’
The bills and letters, almost without exception written in beautifully flowing copperplate script, unless typed, describe an empire of which ‘Chas Knee esq.’ was king, selling, from the two downstairs rooms of his shop a selection of goods almost as varied as that of the modern day Trago, including, chimneys, china and glass of all types, cement, blankets, boots/shoes, soap, oil lamps, carpets, paints, commodes, overmantels, cutlery, clocks, handbags, jewellery, bird boxes, perfume, tea, butter, syrup, toys, window blinds, wickerwork, watches, and…most intriguingly for 1910.…baby alarms.
Goods arrived from companies all over Britain, their bills often headed with stunning engravings of the products and factories, and often delivered by the ’Liverpool, Bristol and Hayle Steamship Company’.
But arguably the most captivating and interesting entries on the billspikes were removed and filed by the archivists under the heading ‘Private Family Documents.’
Here we discover that Charles had a son, John, who attended Hayle Grammar School, but who was absent through illness for most of the winter term in 1910, a daughter, Marea, tutored by Lilian Peek in music, and just one glimpse of another daughter, Louie, attending the Grammar School at the end of 1909.
We find that Earnest Vivian, an employee, claimed compensation from Charles for an injury received while working, and was awarded the sum of twenty five shillings, quite a substantial amount in 1911.
Charles Knee also seemed to have aspirations towards becoming a landlord and property developer, deduced from a series of increasingly irate letters from Redruth Rural District Council regarding his attempt to build ‘wash kitchens’ onto his rental properties in Gwinear.
There are insurance documents from the Hearts of Oak Benefit Society, letters advising investments in various companies, and share reports from the Penmount, Penare and Penpol Steamship Companies, among others.
At one point Mr Knee was also entertaining the idea of modern transport, as there is a letter from the Anglo-American Oil Company describing ‘a van, previously used as a baker’s van, sound and in good condition, and cheap at the price of £12, which should meet with requirements.’
Charles Knee passed away in 1936. By then, the business had a branch in Truro, run by his brother, and also a shop in Penzance.
Perhaps the older residents of Hayle will know what happened to the business after 1936. The writer of this article can remember Charles Knee’s son and family still living there in the 1950/60s, but that the shop had been transformed into a hairdressers, though in the kitchen at the back some remnants of the the once thriving business remained…dusty brooms in bundles, boxes of soap and rusty tins of paint.
For anyone wishing to indulge in a little time travelling, Charles Knee’s documents can be viewed at the Hayle Archive, Sea Lane, Hayle, open Tuesday and Thursday mornings, from ten o’clock until one o’clock.
Kath Shannon (nee Mullinger)
Devolution and Community Asset Update
Discussions are continuing with Cornwall Council with regard to the return of assets and devolution of services with some positives outcomes. Cornwall Council has now offered to remove the Frank Johns Centre from the auction list and we are trying to broker a deal whereby the Town Council will initially lease the building for a period of time to allow us to prepare a business plan, get the finances in place and secure tenants and/or users. Cornwall Council has now agreed to delay either the transfer or possible closure of public conveniences for a period of 12 months which will allow the Town Council sufficient opportunity to evaluate the running costs involved and to determine whether or not the facilities can be managed more efficiently locally. Further meetings have been arranged to progress the issues surrounding the handing back of the management of the amenity and recreational areas in the town and the costs involved. The Town Council is still trying to negotiate some financial support from Cornwall Council to cushion the need for this Council to dramatically raise its annual precept.
North Quay Infrastructure Works
The Council is being kept fully informed of progress on the North Quay Infrastructure project which is proceeding at quite a pace. Work has commenced on establishing the foundations for the new bridge adjacent to the old swing bridge and massive concrete sections are being laid along North Quay to from the upper and lower promenades and retain the filled area of the Marine Renewables Park and its access road. In addition repairs are being undertaken to the quay walls and new services being laid. Early next year some works will need to be undertaken in the vicinity of the Harbour Office which will require the road to be closed and, during this period, the King George V Memorial Walk will be used as a diversion.
Success in the Seaside Towns Initiative Bid
Hayle Town Council, with the support of Cornwall Council, has been successful in gaining close to £70,000 to improve access to the Hayle Beach. The scheme involves a slope being built at the Cove and the support of the land and business owners in the vicinity will be required to bring this to fruition. This scheme should assist visitors and residents alike and will particularly help the disabled, elderly and those with pushchairs gain access to the beach. It is anticipated that the work will be carried out during the latter part of 2012. Several seaside towns throughout the County submitted applications for a share of the £400,000 that was available and, although we did not receive everything that we applied for, we are grateful that we have achieved. The Council will continue to explore other avenues with partners to promote access to the beach and carry out further improvements.
Hayle Community Centre
If you are planning on holding any meetings, events, classes or even parties the Community Centre has rooms available for hire. Space is available for regular sessions or one off bookings. Remember that the CAB, Penwith Credit Union, Link into Learning and others hold regular sessions and surgeries. Contact the Town Clerk for details of services and available space.
Small Grants Available
Hayle Town Council annually awards capital grants to local clubs and organisations. If your group is in need of new equipment, kit or requires funds to secure other sources of funding for larger projects please contact the Town Clerk for an application form. The Council’s Resource Committee considers grants quarterly; the next meeting is scheduled for 12 January 2012. For consideration at that meeting please submit your completed application form by 4 January 2012.
Hayle Town Council
Hayle Community Centre
||Let's do it!
The opportunity to put Hayle on the map and restore the harbour area to its former glory is now within touching distance as Cornwall Council and Hayle Council have backed the latest proposal put forward by ING for the restoration of South Quay and we await final Ministerial approval.
There has been a lot of interest in Hayle over the last year or so with no less than four separate applications coming forward wanting to build a new supermarket. At times, both planners and residents have been presented with a very complicated set of options and it has been difficult to work out what best to do but the people of Hayle have now swung overwhelmingly behind the ING proposals for South Quay.
I have always been clear that, if we are going to have a supermarket in Hayle, then we must make sure our community gets something in return and we should put it where it will bring life into the town rather than drain life away. I think there has been a problem in the past with supermarkets being built in out of town locations which have undermined our town centres and smaller retailers. There are excellent independent clothes shops in Hayle including Dune and The Wharf at Copperhouse. Meanwhile, Penpol Terrace has Mr B's, the best ice cream parlour in Cornwall. I would like to see a successful development that spurs even more new businesses forward and it starts with South Quay.
The competitive interest shown by supermarkets in Hayle has created a once in a generation opportunity to deliver that thing which has eluded the town for far too long: the chance to restore and regenerate the harbour area around South Quay. It has been talked about all my life time and now, finally, I hope we will see it delivered. Over the last six months, many people in the community and heritage groups have worked closely with ING to try to improve the design of the scheme and to come up with something interesting and striking that respects and celebrates Hayle's extraordinary heritage. They have done well. The plans would also see the return of working sluicing gates which would dramatically reduce the need for dredging so it would also be a victory for the long standing campaign run by Save Our Sand.
It has always depressed me that tourists staying at Hayle all too often drive around to St Ives for an evening out. I want to see people leaving St Ives and coming to Hayle because, in future, it will be the place to be. We could even run a shuttle boat service to improve communication between the two towns and bring people into Hayle. There are still one or two more hurdles to overcome but Hayle is a town which could finally be going places. Let's do it.
George Eustice, MP.