The 1990s

Summary of The Transactions – The 1990s

The 1990s saw the continuation of the decline in the mining industry with South Crofty being the last to close in 1998. China clay mining continued to be a major industry although mechanisation led to some reduction in manpower by the end of the decade and the number of companies reduced by takeovers.  Meanwhile engineering saw major changes with Holman, still the largest manufacturing company, went through a number of amalgamations and take-overs and gradually decreased in size throughout the decade.

There were six General Meetings during the session one of which was a joint meeting with the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall and two with the Minerals Engineering Society. There was also a lecture following the Annual General Meeting.

The session started with a visit on 22nd September 1990 to Falmouth Docks, owned by A & P Appledore. Unfortunately it was attended by only 13 members. The visit was conducted by Mr. S. Martin, Engineering Manager, who gave a short introductory talk in which he spoke about the organisation which is based on 7 day, 24 hour, three shift working by a core work force of 550, supplemented when necessary by casual labour. There was then a comprehensive tour of the facilities including the machine shop with a huge 440  tonne press used for ships’ plates and a lathe  able to handle propellor shafts up to 35 feet long and weighing up to 70 tonnes. The party then visited the pump room used to empty the dry docks and then the bottom of  an empty dry dock. The Institute President, Mr. F.P. Rees thanked  Mr. Martin for the visit.

The first General Meeting on 10th October 1990, chaired by the President was a follow-up to the visit the previous month and it heard a talk by the Chief Executive and Managing Director, Mr. T.K. Duncan on “Changes at Falmouth Docks Since 1978”. He started by giving a brief history of the docks from 1858 and the period after WW 2 when along with other dockyards they were nationalised. They were denationalised in 1985 and they main body of his talk described how the business had developed in the previous twelve years.

The second General Meeting on 14th November had a lecture delivered by Captain T.M.P. Tarrant entitled “Some Lighthouse History”  on the work of Trinity House for which he had worked for 44 years. He described the long history of shore lights in England starting with fire baskets. He said the cresset fire basket at Valhalla, St. Agnes used 100 tones of coal a year. He then gave a more detailed account of the history of the Eddystone and Bishop Rock lighthouses and ended with some remarks on the Wolf Rock and longships lighthouses.

On the 5th December at the third General Meeting, held with the Minerals Engineering Society, Mr. R.J. Hunkin of S.W.E.B. spoke about “Electricity Supplies to and on the Isles of Scilly”. The first supply to St.Mary’s was provided by a diesel generator installed in 1932. By 1956 this h increased to three 1MW generators and in 1985 submarine cables were laid to supply Tresco and Bryher. In 1988 worked started on laying a cable from Sennen on the Mainland to St. Mary’s and it was completed in March1989. He finished his talk by showing a video of an investigation using a remotely controlled submersible into suspected incident of a trawler catching up the cable in its gear. However the video showed that the trawl was actually caught up in an old nearby wreck  an outcome which satisfied everyone except the fisherman!

On the 16th January 1991 “The Work and Responsibility of the National Rivers Authority” was described by Mr. J.H. Woods, South West Region of the Authority. It was noted by the Secretary in his annual report that the actual choice of subject matter for the talk had been left to the NRA  who assumed that, as an engineering institute, “Sea Defences and  Flood Control in Cornwall would be of interest. Unfortunately, as he says, the meeting was highjacked by a large contingent of visitors from the St Ives area only intent on airing their views (mostly complaints) about the sewage schemes in that area.  Mr. Woods attempted to stick to his planned topic despite his hecklers. He spoke about the various measures that had been put in place in a number of rivers such as at Par where a control sluice was installed  and similar measures were taken at Treesmill and Tywandreath. A scheme to put flood control measures into the Kenwyn and Allen rivers at Truro was underway at the time of the talk. He also touched briefly on schemes at Looe Bar, Padstow and St. Ives.

The fifth General Meeting on 13th February, held with the Minerals Engineering Society, heard talk on “Mineral Tramways in Cornwall”  given by Mr. N. Johnston. He spoke about the early  tramways at Minions Quarry, Caradon Mine and Phoenix Mine in the east of the County where some of the original granite setts still existed. He then spoke at greater length about the work being done to investigate to Devoran to Portreath route and turn it into a cycle and foot path. It was to take in parts of three old tramways.

The sixth General Meeting on 13th March, held jointly with the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall heard a talk on “Cornish Earthquakes” delivered by Dr. K Atkinson, Assistant Principal, CSM. He said that although Cornwall was far removed from the tectonic plate boundaries which are the source of most earthquakes. The Geothermal Energy project underway at Rosemannowes Quarry had instrumentation in place which could measure tremors as small as 1.4 on the Richter scale. The theory was that the events in Cornwall are probably due to  a brittle/ductile discontinuity at a depth of about 3 to 5 kilometres on the Carnmenellis granite. The earliest recorded event was in 1696 a short distance north-east of Truro.

Annual General Meeting, 17th April, 1991
The President, Mr. F.P.Rees was in the chair. The Minutes of the 1990 AGM were approved and the President invited the Secretary to present his report. He reported with regret the death of a Member, Mr. J.G.Nicholas. He also reported that there was one new member which left the membership total at 93. The average attendance at the meetings had been 22 which was a decrease from the the previous year’s average of 30. He said the John Trounson Memorial Prize of £200 had been awarded to Mr. M. Pritchard , the top student in the M.Sc. Mining Engineering Course who gained an M.Sc. with Distinction.
The Cornwall  Industrial Trust had made awards of £500 each to two students in need of support to enable them to continue their studies at CSM.
The Treasurer then presented the accounts for the year 1990.
Balance on 1st January was £3065.60. Income from subscriptions was £455, Interest amounted to £110.30 and Gilt Stocks Dividends were £115, a total of £680.30.
Expenditure included Secretary’s expenses of £205.40, printing costs of £33 and honoraria for 1989 and 1990, both paid in 1990. There were also sundry costs, including guest speakers‘ expenses were £45. There was an investment of £1886.30 in 111/2% Treasury Stock. This last item referred to funds that had previously held on deposit account.
The balance on 31st December 1990 was £1376.10.

The William Thomas Memorial Fund had a balance of £234.37 on 1st January, 1990; there were incomes of £1.74 from Dividends and  £11.90 from interest giving a balance of £248.01 on 31st December.

The J.H. Trounson Memorial Fund had a balance of £8.57 on 1st January, interest of £4.33 and interest on investments came to £199.90.  As noted by the Secretary a prize of £200 had been awarded leaving a balance on £12.80 on 31st December.

At the Committee Meeting a proposal had been made to e-elect all retiring Council Members but Messrs. A.W. Brooks and R.H. Parker had declined. Messrs. K. Menadue and J. Varker were nominated and acepted. Mr. Menadue had already been appointed Junior Vice-President  to follow Mr. Stuthridge  but due to personal commitments Mr. Stuthridge asked that Mr. Menadue should take the Presidency before him and this has been accepted.
Since there was no other business the President close the meeting and invited Mr. P.J. Raven, Engineering Director and Mr. C. Temby of CompAir Holman to give a joint presentation on “The Past, Present and Future of CompAir Holman” but unfortunately there are no notes on the content  of this talk.

There were six General Meetings during the session including two held jointly with the Minerals Engineering Society and one with Royal Geological Society of Cornwall. There was also one industrial visit.

The first General Meeting on 10th October 1991 was the occasion for the Presidential  Address by Mr. K. Menadue on the subject of “The China Clay industry – Past, Present and Future. this meeting was attended by 36 members and guests. He used a number of slides from Mr.J. Tonkin’s large collection. Mr. Menadue described the changes that had taken place in management styles from the benevolent “family” organisation to the formal approach at that time which was more remote from the grass roots but he recognised the contribution made to the developing company by the workforce.

The second General Meeting on 14th November heard a talk on “Dam Building in Devon and Cornwall” delivered by Mr. D. Evans and illustrated by slides showing air and ground views of all the water dams in the two counties and their construction, problems and structure. The methods of construction using different densities of concrete and fill and the the production of electric power were described in some detail.
At the end of the talk the President said he was sorry that only 21 members were present at a lecture which could have ben of benefit to both practicing and student engineers.

The third General Meeting on 5th December was a joint meeting with the Minerals Engineering Society when Dr. D. Pirrie, lately of the British Antarctic Survey gave a talk on “Exploration and Geological Research in the Antarctic”. He had spent six seasons in the continent and his experiences resulted in a very interesting lecture copiously illustrated with slides. He said every academic had to have an experienced minder. He also described the camping equipment and high calorie diets. He said that sample data was available at the Cambridge Centre of the Survey.

The fourth General Meeting was held on 16th January 1992  when Mr. Mitchell Harris, Energy Manager for ECC Group plc gave a talk on “Combined Heat and Power”. He explained that CHP was a  cost saving scheme using waste heat from one system to supplement the energy input to another system usually generating electricity and commonly for heating purposes. He pointed out that turbine efficiency rises as ambient temperature falls and and was highest when running at full capacity. The estimated cost for the average schemes was approximately £1000 per KW with a pay back of capital when running at 8000 hours per annum.
He said the ECC project at Par Buel consists of of the installation of two 3.75 MW generators where the total power requirement was 10MW. The project was joint with BP Energy Ltd. and costs were to be shared over the ten years from February 1991 and power was first generated on 17th December 1991 and it was hoped it would be in full operation by early March1992. 25 Members attended and Mr. Harris welcomed a request from the President for an Institute visit  later in the session.

The fifth General Meeting on 13th February, attended by some 50 members, was another joint event with the Minerals Engineering Society and heard Mr. J. Hamlyn of Translink Joint Ventures speak on “The Channel Tunnel”. He supported his talk with many slides and a video. He reviewed the history of proposed tunnels since the first serious attempt in 1880. The current tunnelling started in 1988 used machines constructed in subterranean erecting chambers made in 1974. The project consisted of three tunnels 55 metres in diameter at a depth of 74 metres below the sea bed. The two outer tunnels were each to contain a railway 7.6 metres in diameter  and the service tunnel between them was to be 4.8 metres in diameter. The system was designed to carry traffic at a rate of 35 minutes from platform to platform at 15 minute intervals using two deck 800 metres long shuttle cars. The tunnel was intended to go into operation in 1992 1ith full operation by the end of 1993.  When the eleven boring machines completed their work the six British machines were driven downwards and encased in concrete. The six French machines went over this solid foundation and came through to the surface.

The sixth General Meeting was held jointly with the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall on 12th March when Dr. T. Jones, Group Development Manager for ECC plc gave an illustrated talk on “China Clay and its less usual applications”.

Annual General Meeting, 9th April, 1992
The Secretary’s report gave brief summaries of the session’s lectures.  He regretted having to report the death of Dr. Hosking an eminent geologist and long time member of the Institute. he said that the Institute was represented at the launch of the Mineral Tramways Project which has made a contribution to the efforts of the Engineering Council to improve the image of the

The session started with a poorly attended visit to ECC on 10th September. The visit was conducted by Mr. I . Bowditch who gave a brief talk on the history including an overview of the 25  square miles of the clay district. The visit then toured various places of interest including looking at some of the old pits such as Lower Ninestones which was then filled in and modern workings with the most recent extraction and processing plants. After lunch at the Rock Inn at Roche the party visited Goonbarrow and Boldiva Pit before ending the visit at par Docks.

The first General Meeting on 27th October heard a talk by Mr. J.J. Green of Pel Frischmann Water, Consultants to S W Water entitled “Tunnels on the Penzance – St. Ives Sewage Scheme”. He outlined the scheme involving effluent intercepting points from Wherrytown West to Chyandour, the connecting tunnels and finally the Gwithian outfall, a 2.65Km tunnel carrying a 900mm Glass  Reinforced Plastic pipe. Each aspect of the work was illustrated with maps and slides of the work as it progressed from the start in January 1993 to completion in November 1994.

A Joint Meeting with the Minerals Engineering Society on 17th November was given a lecture by Mr. R. Coulton, Knight Piesold Consultants entitled “Treatment of Mine Water at Wheal Jane”. He described the problems that arose when the mine closed in 1991and pumping stopped and there was rapid rise in water levels in the Clemows Tailings Dam and the quality of the discharge which had been good began to deteriorate and the lime treatment was started following an investigation by the National Rivers Authority. Poor weather in 1991/92 winter led to capacity problems and plug in the Nangiles Adit initially installed to keep ground water out failed and within hours some 30,000 cu.metres of contaminated water discharged into the Carnon River. Over the first 24 hours some 200 tones of heavy metal were discharged turning the coastal round the Fal Estuary orange due to ferric oxide. it was reported that the Cadmium spillage was the largest ever recorded in Europe. The tailings dam was raised and at the time of this lecture the development flog term treatment methods was still under way. The 52 attendees asked a large number of questions although neither these nor the answers were recorded.

The third General Meeting on 8th December was addressed by Mr. B. Thomas  of ECCI  on the subject of “Current Practice in the Use of Explosives”. He introduced his talk with a video of blasting operations and equipment at various ECC Pits to illustrate methods used. He outlined in some detail early studies in 1983 of blasting practice which led to a coherent “Code of Practice” within ECCI. Early attempts to analyse blasts had been hampered by the sheer volume of data and the fact that on average 35 blasts a week were conducted. The logging of blast data was introduced  by issuing slog book to each shot firer and collecting the data for computer entry. From this the total cost of each blast, volume and tonnage of rock on floor, costs per cubic metre and tonnes per kilo of explosive used. By the end of the first quarter the published report had revolutionised blasting practice within ECCI. By 1989 the cost per cubic metre had been reduced by 46%.
Towards the end of the decade “Quarry Regulations (Explosives) 1988” was issued relating to the prevention of fly rock. This required accurate positioning of blasting holes over the whole of a blasting face.
He also described the steps taken to minimise noise and vibration in the local area. Finally he described the use of improved explosives, fuses and detonators.

The fourth General Meeting on 19th January 1995 heard talks by Messrs. T. Bell and C. Webb  from the Charleston Foundry. Mr. Bell, the Works Manager briefly ran over the early years from 1932 to 1991 when it was effectively an ECC service industry providing maintenance and production to ECC requirements. In 1991 Denver, Colorado who sold it on to a Swedish Company, Svedala and operated under the name of Denver Sala. Initially with a very large capital investment the company lost money heavily until breaking even in 1994. He said the Denver Sala mission was to supply products and services which satisfy quality, reliability, safety and contractual requirements. He said that previously there had been no planned training but stressed the high morale, great skill and very short learning curve of the present operatives.
Turning to the Foundry he gave technical details of capital installations such as sand reclamation, types of castings, materials yearly tonnage, identification of staffing levels planned maintenance, etc. He then turned to the Machine Shop where the main products were pumps of all sizes and again gave considerable detail on its organisation.
He said he noted that 20 members of the Institute had visited the plant in September 1987 and that it was time for another visit.

A Joint Meeting with the Minerals Engineering Society was held on 16th February when a talk on “Superconducting Magnetic Separation” was planned but the speaker was held up in Brazil and Mr. A. Palmer of Richard Mozley Ltd. filled the breach with a talk on The Use of Hydrocyclones in the Oil and Gas Industries”. He said that Mozley Ltd. were world leaders in the use of very small cyclones, down to 10mm in diameter, for the separation of solids from liquids in the Oil and Gas Industry. In use fluids are fed tangentially into the body of the cyclone producing a centrifugal force induced by the tangential flow causing solids coarser than the cut-point are flung onto the inner wall and migrate down to the lower end and through a spigot giving the underflow. Most liquid containing solids below the cut-point migrate upward to the overflow. The physical dimension of the hydrocyclone determines the cut-point size. He showed  the cut-point sizes for cyclones up to 250mm in diameter. Where small cut-point size and higher throughput was required then the small diameter cyclones could be assembled in ‘cannisters’ with common feed, overflow  and underflow. He gave details of cyclone assemblies ranging from 10 mm in assemblies ranging from 18 to 150  up to 44 mm in assemblies of 4 to 90.

At a joint Meeting with the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall on 16th March, Mr. D.C. Cliffe of RTZ gave talk on “Mineral Exploration into the 21st Century”. Although he opened by saying  that there is little in mineral exploration that is generally new he gave a very lengthy exposition  starting with the problem of finding ore bodies even when using modern exploration tools and the problems of turning them into useable resources. The number of regulations and restrictions was  coupled with hostility from the public because of perceived threats to the environment by mines. The processing of ores also posed potential environmental problems which had to be taken into account. He concluded with some details of the development of the Lihir gold deposit in Papua New Guinea in the 21st Century although it was first discovered in the early 1980s.

Annual General Meeting, 20th April, 1995
In his report the Secretary said that the lectures during the year had been from predominantly Cornish industries and had been well attended. He regretted to report the death of Mr. Russel Pascoe along time member of the Council. Four new Members had been elected during the year. The John Trounson Memorial Prize of £200 had been awarded to Mr. C. Tabb of CSM and applications had been received for the William Thomas Memorial Prize although he gave no details of any award.
During the year the Institute had given support to the preservation in its original form of the Austens Engine House at Lanescot, Par which had been threatened by development.

He said the Biennial Dinner was to beheld at the Porth Avallen Hotel Carylon Bay on 2nd June 1995.

The accounts for the year 1994 showed that an decrease in subscriptions from £504 to £482  while bank interest had increased slightly from £7 to £19.35. Sales of the John Trounson book had also decreased form £635 to £572.28. Expenditure had when decrease in secretarial expenses form £393 to £223.56 while the Secretary’s Honorarium, an Affiliation Fee and a Certificate Holding fee were all unchanged at £200, £10 and £15 respectively. On 1st January 1994, the balance in the current account was £892.05 with £984.23 in the deposit account. During the year the deposit account had been closed with the result that the deposit account on 31st December held £2731.85. The value of £2000 nominal 111/2% Treasury Stock 2001/2004 was £2236 on 31st December.

The William Thomas Memorial Fund increased slightly from £161.01 to £163.70 as result of dividends and interest. The J.H. Trounson Memorial Fund was £216.11 on 1st January and dividends of £199.90  and bank interest of £2.61 were received during the year. A prize of £200 was awarded leaving a balance of £218.62 on 31st December.

There was no record of elections or appointments and following the formal business there was talk on “Seacore” by Mr. R. Gooden, Managing Director. No details of the lecture were given.

The President for the two sessions, 1996/96 and 1996/7 was Mr. L. R. Mabson who oversaw a programme of six General Meetings, including two joint meetings with the Minerals Engineering Society and one with Royal Geological Society of Cornwall. There was also one industrial visit.

The industrial visit, to the Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, took place in September 1995,  before the start of the lecture Season. The verdict was that “the Navy did us proud and gave some members the chance to sample some of the magic of the Weston Flight Simulator.

The first General Meeting on 12th October was the occasion for the Presidential Address. This was at talk on an major accident which took place on 25th September 1970 at the Mufulira Mine in the Zambian copper belt. The mine had started operating in 1931 and with production starting in 1933. In 1969 the mine hoisted 7.5 million tons of ore which yielded 170,000 tones of copper.
The most productive section of the mine was overlain by a large body of tailings and at about 3 a.m. on the morning of the accident a large volume of unstable material ran into the mine killing 89 men and production was brought to a complete standstill for many months. The President gave a history of the mine, supported by a film, which suggested that there were indications that might have presaged the accident but these had not been acted on.

There were another five General Meetings during the session, two of which were held with the Minerals Engineering Society and one with the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall but unfortunately there areas no comprehensive notes on none of these meetings.

The second General Meeting held jointly with the Minerals Engineering Society on the 16th November was given a talk by Mr. K. Ross, Managing Director of South Crofty Ltd. who spoke on “Tin Mining at South Crofty”.

The third General Meeting on 7th December heard a talk by Mr. P. Hosegood, former Production Branch Manager, Nuclear Electric plc. who gave “An Engineering View of Nuclear Electricity Generation at Present and in the Future”.

On 18th January 1996, Dr. D.P. Blight presented a paper on “Mechanical Aids to Calculation”.
The fifth General Meeting on 8th February was held jointly with the Minerals Engineering Society and was given a lecture on “The Second Severn Crossing” by Mr. G Howells, Communication and Information Manager, John Lane Construction Ltd & GTM Europe.
The final General Meeting on 14th February was a joint meeting with Royal Geological Society of Cornwall and heard a talk on “Some Aspects of Engineering Geology in Cornwall”

The contents of the papers presented at the other General Meetings between November 1995 and March 1996 were reported as summaries by the Secretary and in most cases he reported any discussion and questions. The meetings covered a wide range of subjects including and “The Second Severn Crossing”. The final meeting of the session held jointly with the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall heard a paper by Mr. Richard Hocking of the Cornwall Highways Department on “Aspects of Engineering Geology in Cornwall”.

The number attending the meetings was not always given but the lowest attendance was 12, blamed on a flu epidemic, and the highest was 60.

Financial Report
The Treasurer’s reported that the balance of funds on 31st December 1995 showed a reduction of £296.30 from £2731.85 on 31st December 1994. This had been mainly due the investment of £3000 in a Portman Building Society Fixed Interest Bond.

The William Thomas Memorial Fund had increased slightly from £163.70 to £165.86
The J. H. Trounson Memorial Fund increased from £218.62 to £221.07 which took account of
dividends of £199.90 received, bank interest of £2.55 and an award of £200 made to an unnamed recipient.

The Cornwall Industrial Trust report for 1995 made five grants to students totaling £1750. Three of the grants were to students at the Camborne School of Mines, one to a student on a degree course at Plymouth University and the other to a student at the College of St Mark & St John, Plymouth. These were the first grants made by the Trust to applicants outside the CSM and it was noted that since 1980 there had been 40 grants made to students and one to start up the Cornwall Education and Research Trust. The total sum given out in grants in that time was £14730.

Mr. L. R. Mabson was in the second session of his two year appointment as President and the Secretary recorded that it was another most successful year which would be difficult to follow. This reflects the continuous search for interesting subjects and speakers .

Once again there were six lecture meetings and one industrial visit. Three of the meetings were held jointly with the Minerals Engineering Society and one with the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall.

As usual an industrial visit was made in September that year to the Goonvean and Rowstowrack China Clay Works near St Stephen. The Production Director, Mr. John Allen, commented that the CIE had visited the works in 1934 just three years after the formation of the present Company.

The first General Meeting on 17th October was held jointly with the Minerals Engineering Society and followed up the visit the previous month with a talk on “Engineering in China Clay” by Mr. j. Allen who had conducted the visit. He started by defining Engineering in China Clay as the efficient conversion of energy into work (action) by the collective, clever and deliberately errant application of scientific principles to the design, construction and maintenance of china clay products and services, with an ever watchful eye on the opportunity for the next 200 years. He said it is true that the workable clay resources are finite and thus decline is inevitable at some time but that decline is much more likely to come about for commercial or environmental reasons. He said that unless we were prepared to do something as clay producers, engineers, academics, internationally experienced retirees and inhabitants of Cornwall. The stay of execution of the industry depends entirely them and in his view there is at least another generation of prosperity to be had if it was done right. The Secretary commented that “This remarkable lecture excited much discussion and time rather ran over. it is a great pity that this talk could not have been given to a much greater audience.”

The second General Meeting on 21st November was also a joint meeting with the Minerals Engineering Society and it had a lecture on “ Aluminium. The Metal for the 21st Century” delivered by Mr. R. Woodward of the Aluminium Federation.

The third General Meeting was another described by the Secretary as “Noteworthy”, Held on 5th December it heard a lecture entitled “Record Slides at Marsh Mills. A great Road Moving Project” delivered by Mr. C. Stentiford of Hotchtief (UK) Construction Ltd. he spoke about  about the construction of the March Mills road interchange on the outskirts of Plymouth. The lecture concentrated on the sliding into place of two 400 metre precast sections of roadway 12.5 m sideways onto the tops on previously constructed supports. The greatest part of work was done at night when traffic would be at its quietest but nevertheless, as the speaker commented, when the first section was moved some 250 people were present including TV teams, camera and lighting crews and he said it was a most nerve racking experience. Various problems, including a burst hydraulic pipe slowed things down so that after 5 hours the road had moved only about 3m. It took 12.5 hrs to complete the slide. When the second road slide was at a later date it took only half the time.

There were no notes on the remaining three General Meetings. The  Meeting on 16th January 1997, was given a talk on “A & T Services Ltd. How it all Began” by Mr T. Richards Managing Director of A & T Services Ltd. On 20th February the meeting was held jointly with Minerals Engineering Society and the subject of the talk was “Tower Colliery: Back in the Hands of the Workforce” delivered by Mr. T. O’Sullivan, Chairman of Tower Colliery, Aberdare. The final General Meeting of the session was held jointly with the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall.  on 13th March when the lecture was given by Dr. D Pirrie of CSM who spoke about “The Environmental Impact of Mining on the Fal Estuary”.

There are no minutes of an Annual General Meeting although there was a Financial Statement which showed that the General Account had a balance of  £296.30 on 31st December 1975 increasing to £527.57 on 31st December, 1976.  On the same date the value of £2000 nominal 11.5% Treasury Stock 2001/4 was £2383.17 and the balance in the Portman Building Society account was £3082.50 including interest of £82.50.

The William Thomas Memorial Fund showed a slight increase of £4 to £169.86. The value of £50 nominal 3.5% War Stock held by the Fund was £22.98 on 31st December 31st 1996. It was the first time in several years that there was a competition for this prize and it was awarded to Thomas Kwan, a School of Mines student for his paper on “Stope Design at the Olympic Dam Mine in Australia”.
The J H Trounson Memorial Fund also increased slightly from £221.07 to £223.67 taking account of dividends of £199.90 received and a £200 award made to Paul Cartwright, the top student on the MSc Mining Course at the School of Mines.

The Cornwall Industrial Trust reported that during 1996 four grants had been made to students totaling £1250. Three of these were to students at the Camborne School of Mines and the other to a student at the University of Plymouth. It was noted that since the first grant had been made in 1980 the Trust had made 44 grants totaling £15980. All but three being to students at CSM.

Mr. L. R. Mabson was elected to serve a third year as President and once again the session started with an industrial visit and the programme of six General Meetings included two held jointly with the Minerals Engineering Society and one with the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall. The last meeting of the session was the Annual General Meeting and as usual it was followed by a lecture.

The first event was a visit to the A & P Appledore (Falmouth) Ltd. Dockyard on 17th September 1997 It was unusual in that the visit was conducted by two apprentices. The first General Meeting on 23rd October heard a lecture by Mr. R. Fish, Chief Engineer (Structures), County Hall who showed a video and slides depicting the first forty years of the Tamar Bridge. From its opening the traffic has always exceeded forecasts so he described some of the studies which were being carried out on proposals to provide extra capacity.
The second General Meeting held jointly with the Minerals Engineering Society on 20th November was given a talk on ‘Techniques of Pumping Heavy Slurry” by Messrs. M. Graham and R. Lee the UK and Export Sales Managers respectfully, of Warman International Limited.
The last General Meeting in 1997 was held on 4th December when Mr. N. Johnson, County Archeologist gave “A Review of the Historic Coastal Defences of Cornwall and Scilly”illustrated with aerial and ground views.
The fourth General Meeting on 15th January 1998 heard a lecture by Dr. R. Shale of CSM entitled “Falling Apart at the Seams” about the history of Faulting, Earthquakes and Landslides in Cornwall over the past 300 million years.

Mr. A. Wetherelt was elected President to follow Mr. Mabson who had held the post for three years. A programme of six General Meetings and the Annual General Meeting was arranged as well as an industrial visit. Three of the meetings were held jointly with, respectively, the Institution of Engineering Designers, the Minerals Engineering Society and the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall.
The industrial visit to the Delabole Slate Quarry was reported to have been very successful although the date it took place was not recorded.

The first General Meeting on 15th October 1998 was the occasion for the President’s Address which was on the “Construction of the U K  Channel Cross Over”. He was introduced by the immediate Past President, Mr L R Mabson and began by welcoming members of the Carn Brea Mining Society and the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall who had been invited to attend. He also invited the meeting to stand as a gesture of respect to the memory of Mr. R.G. Stapleton who had been President of the Institute in 1971.
The President explained that the system had two “running tunnels”, one in each direction , a service tunnel running parallel to, and slightly lower than the running tunnels, two cross-over tunnels, one on each side of the Channel, cross passages for pressure relief were needed because of the pressure build up resulting from the high speed of the trains being a close fit in the running tunnels. Finally there were cross passages every 375 metres so that there were three opposite a train if it was ever necessary to stop and evacuate. This talk was very well illustrated with diagrams and photographs which were reproduced in the Secretary’s Report. Nearly 60 people attended and there was a vote of thanks

The second General Meeting on 19th November 1998 heard of another modern engineering development in a talk by Mr. T. James of the Goonhilly International Communications Centre. Although he concentrated on the satellite communications he also described other modern telecommunications services, such as cellphone which eventually became the ubiquitous  mobile phone.

Mr. James was also a well known amateur astronomer and at the close of the meeting the President presented him with cheque for £30 towards his project for helping to interest young engineers in astronomy.

The third General Meeting, a joint meeting with the Institution of Engineering Designers on 3rd December 1998 continued this theme of modern engineering developments by taking place in the Computer Aided Design Suite in the Camborne College. Messrs. F. Hyde and T. Bowden gave an overview of the principles of CAD and gave the audience an opportunity to try their hands at the use of these new tools.

The fourth General Meeting on 14th January 1999 came literally back to earth with a talk by Mr. A. W Brooks on “Cornish Mining in the 20th Century.” He gave a decade by decade analysis of the state of the industry in terms of its rises and falls resulting, in the main, from the variations in world metal prices. There was also the effect of two world wars and the great recession in the 1930s. In spite of these factors the industry made great progress in terms of new technologies such as the use of compressed air and electricity although in the event this was of little avail and by the end of the century the last mine had closed.
The lecture was well supported by photographic and diagrammatic slides and Secretary reproduced the whole lecture in his Report.

It is worth noting that in a letter to a member on 2nd April 1999 the Secretary commented on the drop in membership although he did not give figures. He also commented on the difficulties experienced in keeping up the standard of lectures.

Annual General Meeting
The AGM was held on 22nd April 1999 and was given reports from the Secretary and the Treasurer.
The printed Secretary’s report included copies of the President’s address and the paper by Mr. A. W Brooks on Cornish Mining.
The treasurer reported that the general account balance on 31st December 1998 had increased to £878.21 from £767.62 on 31st December 1997. The value of £2000 nominal 11.5% Treasury Stock 2001/4 was £2267.88 and the balance in the Portman Building Society account was £3329.18.
The William Thomas Memorial Fund on 31st December 1998 showed a decrease of £47.63 taking into account dividends and interest received and the payment of an award of £50.00
The value of £50 nominal 3.5% War Stock held by the Fund was £38.87 on 31st December 1998. It is noted that although the Treasurer had recorded an award of £50 the Secretary reported that there had been no application had been received.

When the AGM business was concluded there was a talk by Mr Neal Barnes on “Building the EDEN Project”.

There were only five General Meetings during the session, one of which was held jointly with the Institute of Design Engineers and one with the Minerals Engineering Society. The session started with  a visit to the ECC International Clay Complex on 18th September 1999. 14 members and guests met at the Wheal Martin China Clay Museum to be conducted on a tour of the St. Austell Clay area and the Par Docks complex under the expert guidance of Mr. I. Bowditch.
There had been a visit in 1994 but the operation of many of the pits, processing plants, new and complex clay drying processes etc, had changed so much, and was continuously being updated that it was remarked by one member of very long experience with the company that, to quote, ‘ the notes you are taking today will be history in a few weeks time‘. A very comprehensive set of notes was produced by Mr. J. Tonkin of St Austell to compliment the visit.

The first General Meeting on 21st October was held jointly with the Institute of Design Engineers and heard a paper on “Engineering the Future” by Mr. R. Hall, a civil engineer who was a BBC Broadcaster on various environmental and ecological subjects.

The second General Meeting on 18th November was addressed by Mr. R. Gooden of Seacore Ltd. and he spoke about “A Cornish Drilling Company Abroad” in which he described the many large projects with which Seacore is involved all over the world.

On 2nd December Mr. R. Moss of Special Support Services for Production Engineering, a Leicester Company, who spoke about “ British High Precision Engineering and How We Avoided Success”. There were no notes available on this talk on what was possibly a contentious subject.

The fourth General Meeting on 20th January  2000 was a joint meeting with the Minerals Mining Society and it heard a talk by the Managing Director of Screening Consultants & Supplies Ltd, Mr. G. Martin who spoke on “The Black Art of Mechanical Separation” which dealt with the separation of environmentally friendly and very unfriendly materials.

The talk at the final General Meting on 10th February, held jointly with the Royal Gelogical Society of Cornwall, continued on this theme when Mr. G. Bowen of Markus Hodge Environmental spoke about “Adit Systems – Ground Water and Contamination” which dealt with the ever present problem of contaminated water, particularly from flooding of disused mines.


The Institute decided that it should celebrate the second millennium in some way and after discussion it was decided to hold a conference which was held on 24th March 2000. The Notes of the Proceedings contained the following introduction:-


Prompted by the death of recent past President, Hugh Stapleton, the Institute wished to provide
a fitting tribute to the very considerable work he had done in attracting young people into engineering.

In addition it was felt that, from discussions among members and from their own
experiences, a very positive benefit could be achieved by providing a platform for discussion
between representatives from industry and education to highlight the need for engineering
skills within the county, to appreciate the requirements of the employers, the training methods
provided and what difficulties are experienced in obtaining suitable applicants, and those from
education to indicate what they are doing already, what is available and what they would
suggest to raise the image of engineering.”

From a very embryo thought in late 1998 just after Hugh Stapleton died, the idea grew,
something like Topsy and eventually, from the many invitations, around 80 people agreed to take part.
Very many of those delegates who contributed so magnificently, did so at quite considerable
inconvenience to both themselves, their organisations and their colleagues in industry and
educational establishments, and for this, the CIE expressed most sincere thanks.

It had also been the desire to stage the event independently of any other organisation to
indicate the complete neutrality of the Cornish Institute of Engineers.

Cornwall College very kindly offered their conference suite in their Penhaligon Building,
which has ideal facilities and for which the Institute was extremely grateful.

After an Introduction by the Chairman, Mr. A. Wetheralt, four representatives from industry were invited to speak: Mr. A.W.F. Petherbridge of Imerys, Mr. R. Bointon of Teddington Controls Ltd, Mr. M.J.T. Ould of Rolls Royce and Mr. A.V. Francis of Microcomms Ltd. Each of these spoke briefly about their company and how it was involved in recruitment and training of engineers.

These were followed by four representatives from education and training; Mr. D. Prest for Comprehensive Education, Mr. B. Payne for Further and Higher Education, Mr. J. McFarland for the Joint Engineering and Training Scheme (JETS) and Professor K. Atkinson for Diploma and Degree Education. As with the industrialists each gave a brief résumé of the function of their organisation and its aims.

The conference then split up into four groups for discussions under Mr. K. J. Menadue, CIE; Mr. A W. F. Petherbridge, Imerys; Mr. K. Withey, CIE and Mr. B. Payne, Cornwall College. The suggested group topics were:
● What type of engineer is required by employers? Are educational establishments producing what local engineering companies require?
● What do educational sectors/training organisations require from industry?
● How can local industry assist educational establishments within Cornwall?
● What help, fiscal or otherwise is required to fulfil the above points?
●Are there any vacancies currently available within engineering and what facilities and what facilities are available from the education sector to fill them?

A common theme emerging from all groups was the uncertainty of what was engineering meant to the general public which inevitably affects recruitment. In addition all educational establishments needed to improve their communications with industry to help in getting the right skillbase.

The Conference was also addressed by the local MP Ms. C. Atherton. She spoke of Government initiatives to raise the profile of engineering, as well as the expectation of Objective One funding from the EU.

The Western Morning News on 25th April 2000 published the following report on the conference by Ms. J. Lander which gives thumb-nail comments on many of the speakers and what they said. Her report read as follows:

One delegate at the conference summed up the general feeling: ” We just aren’t sexy or trendy enough “.

“It is difficult to compete with media studies and surfing courses”, another said.

“What student wants to take on a four year apprenticeship when a 21 year old tycoon is on his fifteenth million?” said a third.

One speaker suggested watching Formula 1 racing, which he thought was the “epitome of engineering” and should inspire young people.

The Team Phillips super yacht had also received glamorous coverage, with Pete Goss, the skipper, summing up their problem as ” one of engineering “.

But why, when the response from schools in Cornwall to the In Pursuit of Excellence Education Awards Scheme proved so successful, are engineers so worried?

D. Prest, the Design and Technology adviser for Cornwall, passionately put forward his case for the schools:
“Every pupil studies design and technology as well as science from 5 to 16 years of age – it is not an option, it is a national requirement” he said
Waving the Yellow Book produced by the “In Pursuit of Excellence” Initiative, he said the contents epitomised exactly what they were trying to do. The industrialists on their side were very hard hitting and perhaps rather cynical.”

” Degrees today aren’t worth the paper they are written on,” said Martin Ould, who works for Rolls Royce in Bristol but comes from Carharrack and was educated in Cornwall and at Bath University.
His firm, he said, is a major employer in the West.” If you are going to change the way engineers are formed, then Rolls Royce is interested “, he said.

Richard Boynton, of Teddington Controls Ltd, at St.Austell, which employs over 200 people with a turnover of £12M, said his form was desperate to get local people, and model makers were ” like gold dust “. He has to recruit outside Cornwall for electronic designers, but “up country people want up country salaries “, and then there were other difficulties with house prices, schools, and isolation. A graduate engineer himself, he said he had to build up his team from nothing.
He suggested that teachers should get industrial experience by secondment, and schools could recruit retired engineers to help them with their curricula
In the questions session which followed, various points emerged, Mr. Boynton, for instance, thought that basic scientific and engineering understanding was very low among students.
In answer to the question – are schools in step with modern industry ? Martin Ould thought that industry should ask “how can we help?  It’s not just up to the schools – it has to be two way.”

Barry Payne from Cornwall College Engineering centre said that the question was one of communication” We don’t know precisely what it is you want- you don’t know what we can do for you “. He said the Joint education and training Scheme, which was a combination of work mentoring and in house tutorials, was working well.

It was also revealed that Cornwall is the only rural area eligible for Education Maintenance Allowance worth £30 a week.

Professor Keith Atkinson, Director of Camborne School of Mines, said that the school catered globally for mining students and consulted the industry to see what they wanted- but they still could not get enough applicants.
The answer, he thought, was because students did not have enough role models in school to inspire them into mining and mining engineering. “There is a world shortage of mining graduates, and when the school recently had a vacancy for a professor, they advertised seven times without success ”
Mining may have died out in Cornwall, but he deals with mines overseas which can have a workforce larger than Camborne and Redruth combined.

Candy Atherton, MP for Falmouth and Camborne, said that the Government believed that the  engineering  community makes  a great contribition to the society of this country.
We need young people with ideas and inventions and there s much potential with the alternative energy programme in Cornwall.”