Monday, 4 November 2013

My First Enquiry: The Case of the Missing Tools...

As part of being a Graduate Trainee, you will often deal directly with answering enquiries and I was very excited to get a rather mysterious one as my first.

Colin, the enquirer, is co-writing a book which explores the history of Magdalen tin mine and he was searching for some wooden mining tools that were believed to have been found there in 1920, dating from 150 years prior. It was thought the tools in question were donated to a local museum but after contacting several in the area, he could not find any trace of them, and so got in touch with us in the hope that we may have record of their donation to the CSM Museum.

When I came to Cornwall I knew that mining was going to be a large and interesting part of the local history and our CSM archive does seem to attract a lot of interest from students and the general public alike so I was excited to get started.

After having had a long look through the CSM Magazines covering the 1920’s in hope of any mention, after nothing having surfaced in the CALM catalogue, I proceeded to search the Justin Brooke Mining Index.

Justin Brooke was an enthusiastic mining researcher and these documents detail his findings about Mining Companies in Cornwall so it can be very useful for identifying where to look next.

Having had no luck and whilst I was already mentally planning my ‘Unfortunately I did not find…’ response, I suddenly was caught by this extract from the entry for Magdalen Mine Limited 1924-1930:

Old equipment found in the mine included wooden pumps, an iron working barrel or pump cylinder, a wooden dish, a joint-ring from a door-piece, with the balshag wrapped around it still in excellent condition, and a 4” cast-iron pipe. These were presented (or loaned) to the Falmouth Museum, together with a collection of minerals from the mine’.

It was my first eureka moment!

After having excitedly relayed this information, I realised that the thing I have been most struck by in this whole process is the way in which, research will quite often open up just as many questions as it answers, as currently no ‘Falmouth Museum’ exists…

And finally the response that made my day! (Can I have this framed?!):

Hi Rosemary,

That is so super, excellent, fantastic news! You may not have them but I feel you might as well have for my elation at your news. My co-author thought I was wasting my time and that they were lost in time. They may still be of course, but the information you provide gives me some more leads to follow.

Hugs all round ... virtually, of course!

Thank you so, so much.

Colin ... One very happy customer!!

It has been very gratifying to be able to help someone in their research and to act as a bit of a detective.

Do you know what ‘Falmouth Museum’ may be referring to?

Have you had an interesting discovery through using an archive?