The 1940s

A Summary of the Transactions from the 1940s

During the six years of World War II, all General Meetings of the Institute had been suspended due to the lighting restrictions and the difficulty of travelling. However, the Council existing at the start of the War had carried on by meeting at least once each year and were able to deal with all matters which arose. Each year the Council filled any vacancies that occurred by nomination. At a Council Meeting held on April 20th 1945, all the constitutional Officers were re-elected by the Council for that session.  With the resumption of normal routine it was intended to re-instate the constitutional methods of electing Officers and Council Members at an AGM to be held in March 1946. Mr. Todd, who had served as President for seven years, stated he wished to stand down and the Council decided that Mr. E. Furze would take over at that Annual General Meeting.

There were three subjects which had involved the Institute during the War. The first occasion was on January 28th 1942 when the Council met Sir William Lake, Controller of Nonferrous Mineral Development for the Ministry of Supply. He addressed the Council and explained the Ministry’s proposals for increasing the the output of tin by the existing mines made necessary by the fall of the Malayan mines to the Japanese. He asked Council for any advice it could give on properties considered suitable for development and which could be brought to production within 12 months. Several Councillors made recommendations although there is no mention of anyone referring to the proposals which had been made in 1923/24 and had largely come to nothing. Nothing seems to have resulted from this meeting.

On August 18th 1943, the Council had a meeting attended by Mr. T. Holman who gave details of the Newcomen Society’s revised proposals for the erection of a Trevithick Memorial. He said that Messrs. Freeman & McLeod of Penryn who had been selected to produce it had now decided that they could no longer undertake the work and had withdrawn. The Newcomen Society had been advised but there is no record of their reaction.

The Council decided to start issuing Transactions again in 1945 and, because of the time since the last volume was issued, it was decided to start a new series. Volume 1, Part 1 of this series covered the short period from October to December 1945.

The volume records a letter written to the press supporting a memorandum dealing with the Cornish mines and post war reconstruction that had been submitted to the Government in May 1944, by the Cornish Tin Mining Advisory Committee.

At a Council Meeting held on 20th July 1945, it was resolved that a prize to be known as the William Thomas Memorial Prize should be awarded for the best paper read by an Associate of the Institute and that it should be publicised by having notices displayed in mines, engineering works, the Camborne School of Mines and the Science School in Redruth. The prize would be two guineas with an Institute Certificate. At this meeting it was noted that the year had seen six new Members and one new Associate. One Member and One Associate had resigned and two members had died.


The the war time activities were alluded to by the President, Mr. Todd, when he gave his Presidential Address at the first General Meeting of the session on October 13th 1945. His introductory statement ended with the following: “I would like to mention what is apparent to all present and that is the decline in Cornish Mining. It appears that notwithstanding all the approaches which have been made to the Governments, past and present, pressing the claims of tin mining for some form of recognition and and help no satisfactory results have been achieved. This brings me to the question of membership of the Institute which, in the past, has been largely drawn from the various branches of mining but in view of the few mines now in operation I would suggest that the institute looks to a much wider sphere of engineering to draw Members and Associates in the future.”

He then delivered a talk on “The Generation of Electricity at Carn Brea and Hayle Power Station”

At a Council meeting on October 18th it was resolved that the wartime subscription rates should continue for 1945 and in 1946 would revert to the normal rates of £1 for Members and 10/- for Associates.

The three General Meetings reported in Vol 1, Pt 1 of the Transactions were all about local extractive industry matters one of them, on Geevor Mine, by Mr. A. D. Bennetts, was the first entrant for the William Thomas Memorial Prize.

The introduction to Vol. 1 Part 2 of the Transactions reported the death of Mr. William Hosking who was a Past President and for many years had been a Joint Secretary of the Institute. It also recorded that the William Thomas Memorial Prize had been awarded to Mr. A. D. Bennetts for the paper he had presented at the General Meeting on 8th December 1945

The fifth General Meeting of the session held on 14th February heard a talk on “Recent Developments in Ore Dressing in the U.S. with special reference to Heavy – Medium Separation” by Mr. B. D. Cranford of Messrs. Garnid Products Ltd. An abridged version of the talk was printed in the Transactions.

Annual General Meeting, 23rd March 1946  The accounts for 1945 were presented, They showed that the bank balance on 1st January 1945 was £432/0/11. The income for the year was £53/14/0 including subscriptions and bank interest. Expenditure was £7/8/2 resulting in a balance on 31st December of £477/16/9. In addition there was a credit of £ 39/9/9 at Camborne Printing and Stationery Co, on 1st January that had decreased to £35/5/0 on 31st December.
The proposed composition of the Council was approved. The election of Mr. E. Furze as President for the 1946/7 session was agreed. Vice Presidents for Mining, Metallurgical and Mechanical areas of interest were elected, and Mr. J. H. Trounson was re-elected as Treasurer.

At the conclusion of the formal business Mr. Trounson gave a talk on “ The Sinking and Mechanical Equipment of the new shaft at Castle-an-Dinas Wolfram Mine”.

The programme for the session included seven General Meetings, the Annual General Meeting and a Summer Meeting.

The Summer Visit was to Hayle Power Station and the St. Erth Valley where the Holman Brothers gravel pit was visited followed by a description of Ministry of Supply operations. The party then went to St. Ives for tea followed by a brief meeting at which the The President, Mr. Todd announced that he was relinquishing the post after seven years and that Mr. Furze would take over. Tributes were paid to Mr. Todd for his work during this long and difficult period

The meeting programme covered a wider range, both in subjects and geography than the previous session.

At the first General Meeting on 5th October 1946 the retiring President introduced the new President, Mr. E. Furze, who expressed his thanks to the Director of the Geological Survey for the loan of the photographs which had been on display before the meeting. He then presented the William Thomas Memorial Prize to Mr. Bennetts for the paper he had presented in December. He then made his Presidential Address entitled “Some Memories of Working Tin and Other Minerals in Cornwall and Abroad”.

The remainder of the the General Meetings covered subjects as diverse as mining pre-war in Burma, Lubrication, the Diamond Drill, alluvial mining in the St. Erth valley and an interesting paper on the use of powdered Killas in the construction of front line airstrips during the war. One of the meetings was a Members’ Evening at which two papers on mining subjects were presented; one on Nigeria and one on Spain.

Annual General Meeting, 27th March 1947
The President was in the chair at the AGM and the first item on the Agenda was the Financial Report for the year ending 31st December 1946. It was made under four headings. The General Account showed a balance on 1st January 1946, of £477/16/9. The income from interest, subscriptions, sale of Transactions, etc. amounted to £125/8/2 and expenditure was £98/10/3 giving an increased balance of £504/14/8.
The supplementary account with the Camborne Printing and Stationery Co. reduced to £29/19/3.
The William Thomas Memorial Fund increased slightly after the award of a 2 guinea prize while the Trevithick Memorial Fund for the erection of a suitable tablet to the memory of Richard Trevithick at Carn Brea increased by 17/6.

Concern was noted that level of income from subscriptions was likely to decrease since arrears had largely been cleared.

The general report commented on the good attendance at the General Meetings and particular mention was made of the summer visit to Hayle Power Station. The Members’ Meeting on 14th December was not as well attended as had been expected but was nevertheless judged to have been a success and it is hoped to repeat it.

The deaths of two notable members were reported. The first was Mr. Jos. Paull who had been the first President of the Institute although, strangely, the Transactions only reported him as a Past President. The other loss was Mr. Hosking  who had served as Secretary for many years.
There had been two resignations from the Institute but eight Members and five Associates had joined.

The forthcoming meeting programme was to include a summer meeting to Castle-an-Dinas and the nearby clay pits.

The report also expressed gratitude to the local mining press and newspapers for reporting the Institute’s meetings.

The Council’s recommendations for membership of the Council for the 1947/48 season were accepted including the appointment of Mr. N. K. Kitto as President. Mr. J. H. Trounson was re-elected as Treasurer and Messrs. Berryman and Eplett were appointed as Auditors.

In closing the meeting the President reminded those present of the need to recruit new members.
He then introduced Mr. D. W. Bushell and invited him to read a paper on the Swedish Mining Industry.

The Transactions also noted a visit made on 30th May 1947 to an Institution of Mechanical Engineers (Western Branch) meeting at Holman Bros. Ltd to hear a paper on “The Atom as a Source of Power” delivered by Mr. C. F. Powell, Reader in Physics at the University of Bristol.

The Editor’s notes in the Transactions for this session (New Series Vol. 3) noted the deaths of six members including Mr. Todd who, as President, had been instrumental in keeping the Institute running during the war years. The list also included Mr. Bailley, another Past President.
The Editor noted that the members of the Institute had been invited to attend another meeting of the South Western Branch of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers at Messrs. Holman Bros. Ltd., on 24th October 1947 on the subject of “Mechanical Engineering in Agriculture”.

There were six General Meetings and the AGM which was followed by a lecture.

At the first General Meeting the outgoing President, Mr. E. Furze presented Mr. C.P. Tremlett with his William Thomas Prize Certificate and cheque for his paper on “The Diamond Drill – Mining’s Periscope”. Mr. D. W. Bushell who shared the prize for his paper on “The Swedish Mining Industry” was unable to attend since he was on his way to Northern Rhodesia.
Having completed this duty the President handed the chair to his successor, Mr. N. K. Kitto who then gave his Presidential Address.

Mr. Kitto’s subject was “The Correlation of Mine Surveys with the Ordnance Survey” and he started by describing the dangers inherent in using either Magnetic or True North derived from solar or astronomic sightings as a directional datum. He sited the case of the disaster at Wheal Oates mine near St Just in 1893 when 20 miners were drowned. This mine had been surveyed over a period of 40 years relying on the original datum and the accumulation of inaccuracies had led to a working level breaking through into water filled disused workings.

Three of the other five meetings were devoted to the showing of films covering subjects as diverse as ore sampling, coal mining and one entitled “The Inside Story” produced by “The Vacuum Oil Company” on which there is no information in the Transactions except the title. The other two General Meetings covered iron mining in Lincolnshire and machinery in the china clay industry.

Annual General Meeting, 15th April 1948
In the absence of the President, who sent his apologies, the chair was taken by Mr. D. D. Belcham who asked Mr. Hitchin to read the Financial report. This showed a slight decease in the General Account from £504/14/8 on 1st January 1947 to £497/7/1 on 31st December. The supplementary account with the Camborne Printing and Stationery Co. Ltd., had also decreased from £29/19/3 to £26/2/9. The William Thomas Memorial Fund had risen marginally from £83/9/3 to £83/18/11and the Trevithick Memorial Fund had also shown a slight increase from £47/19/4 to £49/2/10.

The report for the year commented on the use of films which had proved successful and it was hoped that at least some of the visitors who had attended these events would decide to become Members.
It had not been possible to arrange a Members‘ Meeting and although no cause was given it may be assumed to be due to the lack of members prepared to make a presentation.
Four members had died during the year and, as noted above, these were reported in the Editor’s Notes at the start of Volume III of the Transactions. However, twelve Members and two Associates had been elected during the year to 31st December and another four Members and two Associates had been elected since 1st January.
Messrs. J. A. Richards & Sons had submitted a tender for erecting  the Trevithick Memorial Tablet and this was accepted after the design had been agreed with the Newcomen Society who were sharing the cost.

A ballot of Members had been held for the election of Council Members and the resulting recommendations made by the Council were accepted by the Meeting. Mr. W. H. Emplett was elected as President for the 1948/49 session. Mr. Gregory proposed that Mr. J. H. Trounson should be re-elected as Treasurer and Messrs. Berryman and Eustice were proposed as Auditors. These were all approved by the meeting.

This volume of the Transactions concluded with a list of members which consisted of 77 Members, 2 Overseas Members, 25 Associates, 2 Overseas Associates and 5 Annual Subscribers.

The Editor’s notes to the Transactions for this session included a report that the William Thomas Memorial Prize for the previous session had been awarded to Mr. D. C. Shelton for his paper on “Mining the Frodingham Ironstone” which had been presented at the third General Meeting on 21st November 1947.
He also noted that it had been impossible to publish one of the papers for the 1948/49 session because it had been entirely on lantern slides.
The Council had appointed Messrs. F. B. Michell and H. K. Rich to be official delegates at the Fourth Empire Mining Congress due to be held the following year
He reported that eight members had died during the year including Mr. H. Nettle who had been an Honorary Auditor or many years.
After the Editor’s Notes the Transactions carried a lengthy report on the unveiling of the Trevithick Memorial Tablet at the site of Richard Trevithick’s birthplace on 16th October 1948 by Mr. R. E. Trevithick, a great grandson of “Cap’n Dick”.

The first General Meeting was held on 25th September with the retiring President in the chair. He said that he would have presented the William Thomas Memorial Prize Certificate and cheque to Mr. S. C. Shelton for his paper on “Mining Frodingham Ironstone” but Mr. Shelton was on his way to Peru.
Mr. Kitto then handed over to the incoming President, Mr. W. H. Eplett, who delivered his Presidential Address on the subject of “A Mining Trip to South America”. This was concerned with mining in Bolivia. After his talk he answered several questions and exhibited a number of unusual and valuable minerals he had brought back from the country.

Three of the remaining General Metings were on mining subjects, one of those being mainly devoted to a film on coal mining. There were two General Meetings on subjects with more general applications, the use of froths and foams in fighting petroleum fires and the us of compressed air for power transmission. The latter was described by the speaker: Mr. S. Sweet as  being among the most inefficient and wasteful forms of power transmission in common use but it continued to grow in favour and showed no sign of having reached the peak of its popularity. In spite of an efficiency of only 13%. It was convenient, safe to handle, simple and is suitable for percussive tools.

Annual General Meeting 2nd April 1949
The President called on Mr. Hutchin to read the Report and the Financial Statement.
Mr. Hutchin reported that it had been a successful year with reasonably good attendance at the meetings. The Summer Meeting when a visit was made to New Consols Mine was also well attended. There was no report of the visit in the Transactions. He commented on the success of the Trevithick Memorial project and said thanks were due to the members of the sub-committee who assisted in arranging the unveiling ceremony on 16th October 1948. The memorial tablet had been handed over to the Camborne/Redruth Urban District Council. The official party had then visited the engine at Robinson’s shaft and then had seen the first showing in Cornwall of the Shell Company film on “The Cornish Engine”

The deaths of two Members and three Associates was noted but there had also been 13 new members and three resignations which brought the membership at the 1948 to 78 Members, 23 Associates and 6 Subscribers.

It was proposed to hold the summer meeting on 2nd July when visits would be made to Hayle Power Station, Geevor Mine and Lands End.

Elections Following the necessary ballot the Council proposals for Officers and Council Members were endorsed by the Meeting and Mr. W. G. Eustice was elected President for the 1949/50 Session.
The AGM re-elected Mr. J. H. Trounson as Treasurer. Mr. Berryman was re-elected as Auditor along with Mr. Eplett to replace Mr. Eustice who was becoming the next President.

Financial Statement
A statement on the Trevithick Memorial expenses showed that expenditure had exceeded income by £13/5/7 and this deficit was transferred over to the General Account to close the Memorial Fund account.
The General Account showed a balance of £471/16/9 on 31st December 1948 compared with £497/7/1 on 1st January. This included the deficit carried across from the Trevithick Memorial Fund as noted above. The Supplementary Account showed that the credit balance at the Camborne Printing and Stationery Co. had decreased from £26/2/9 to £20/3/9.
The William Thomas Memorial Fund increased slightly from £83/18/11 to £84/8/6 because the interest exceeded the value of the prize awarded.

The Transactions for 1949 noted the death of Mr. C. V. Paull, Past President and son of Mr. Josiah Paull, who had been the first President of the Institute.

There were seven General Meetings in the session with six papers being presented and three films shown. In addition members were invited to two lectures arranged by The Electrical Power Engineers Association and two meetings of the Western Branch of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
The William Thomas Memorial Prize for the previous session was awarded to Mr. J. P. R. Polkinghorne for his paper on “Banka Drilling for Alluvial Gold in West Africa” which he presented at the third General Meeting on 4th December 1948.

At the first General Meeting the outgoing President, Mr. Eplett presented the the William Thomas Memorial Prize to Mr. Polkinghorne then invited his successor, Mr. W.G. Eustace to take the chair and then deliver his Presidential Address on the subject of “The Utilization of Electrical Power”. Mr. Eustace said that he intended to give a general outline of the subject without dealing with specific machines and apparatus. However, he gave quite a detailed definition of many terms used in the supply industry which were probably not familiar to users and in spite of his earlier disclaimer he gave a fairly comprehensive description of several types of motors and rectifiers.
At the end of his talk he invited those who were interested to accompany him to the Electrical Engineering Department of the CSM for a demonstration. The number who accepted this offer was not recorded.
Two of the General Meetings were film evenings which covered a variety of topics including tunneling and loading equipment, oil refining and power transfer. At other General Meetings papers were presented on mining in Tanganika, the mining and uses of mica and and the final General Meeting of the session heard an interesting talk by Mr. Mr. A.T. Holman of Messrs. Holman Bros. on “The Development of the Rock Drill with Notes on the Influence of Disease on Design”. He said that at the start of the 20th Century the the active life of a miner in S. Africa was only three to five years. He described great improvements made by the introduction of water damping particularly through the use of hollow drill bits.

Annual General Meeting 27th March 1950
The President invited Messrs. F. B. Michell and F. Hutchin respectively to present the Council’s Report and the Financial Statement .
Mr. Michell said the attendance at the meetings had been good and he mentioned the invitations to members to attend the Institution of Mechanical Engineers meetings. He also said that the summer visits to Geevor Mine and Hayle Power Station had been well attended.
The membership had been gradually increasing and and now reached 111 Members and Associates and five Annual Subscribers. Four members had died, including Mr. C.V. Paull a Past President and one Member had resigned. The Cornwall Electric Power Company, one of the Annual Subscribers had withdrawn when the Company was nationalised. There  had been no entries for the William Thomas Memorial Prize.

The Institute had been invited to nominate a representative to the Camborne-Redruth Urban District Council Development and Reconstruction Committee. Mr. E. Furze had been nominated. Mr. H.K. Rich had attended the Empire Mining Congress in July 1949 and an invitation had been received from Cornish Mining Development Association for the Institute to be represented at some (unspecified) meetings.
The President thanked the local press and the chief mining periodicals for the publicity given to the Institute.

Financial Statement
Mr. Hutchen reported that the bank balance on 1st January 1949 was £471/16/9. Income, including £108/15/4 from subscriptions and £8/11/- interest from the Trustee Savings Bank amounted to £121/6/10. Expenditure was £69/9/4 which was lower than usual because there had been printing costs for Transactions. As a result the Bank Balance on 31st December had increased to £523/14/3.

The credit balance with the Camborne Printing and Stationery had reduced to £16/10/6 and the William Thomas Memorial Fund had risen slightly to £84/18/7.

Elections  The Council had held a ballot for Officers and Council Members and the names of those successful were accepted by the AGM . The President elect for the 1950/51 session was Mr. J. H. Southwood, Mr. J. H. Trounson was re-elected as Treasurer. Mr. Berryman announced his retirement from the post of auditor and Messrs. Eplett and Eustace were nominated for the following year.

At the end of the formal business the President invited Mr. Bundell to deliver a paper that he had presented to the Metallurgical Symposium prior to the Empire Mining Congress which he had attended. The paper dealt with the tempering of alloys for providing the less common metals with specific attributes.