During the later 19th century Penryn became important for granite quarrying and as an industrial centre.

Freeman and McLeod's operation was based on the riverbank between Commercial Road and Ponsharden roundabout.

The company had numerous granite works in the area, including Polkanuggo Quarry, Pelastine Quarry, Carnsew Quarry, Trevone Quarry (all Mabe) and Trerise Granite Works at Longdowns.

An incredible array of statues, bridges and buildings are made from Cornish granite.

In 1958 history was made at Pelastine Quarry, where the biggest single group of granite figures to be carved anywhere in the world for 2,000 years was created.

The monolith was 17ft long, over 3ft wide and almost 7ft high, weighing around 20 tons.

It was thought to be the largest work of its kind ever attempted, rivalled only by the Pharoahs of ancient Egypt.

The work shows four men pulling on a rope to illustrate team work.

The artist, David Wynne OBE, who later died in 2014, was well known for his sculpture of the bust of Sir Thomas Beecham, which stands in the Festival Hall in London.

An extract from Ernie Warmington’s book, Around Penryn, published in 2000, charts the history of Freeman and McLeod Ltd:

John Freeman, born in 1800, and his brother first brought granite quarrying and working into prominence in the Penryn area.

They leased land alongside the Penryn River in 1848 and extended their operation by creating a quay wall of granite and in-filling behind it.

By 1868 the granite works covered three acres. Several quarries in the area were leased to them. Rather than work the quarries themselves, they purchased the granite from "gangers".

The "gangers" employed their men on piecework to blast out the stone and cut it with diamond-tipped saws to the required size. Some used small hammers and others much larger hammers.

The traditional way of conveying granite to Penryn from places likes Mabe and Constantine was by horse drawn wagons, with six horses pulling 12 tons at a time.

Wagon drivers were so confident of their horses that it was common to see several strings of horses proceeding driverless through the area towards Penryn.

On an empty wagon behind, the drivers would sit smoking or having their "crouse".

It was also said that the horse teams would return home with the empty wagons, while their drivers remained in the pubs of Penryn for the night.

John Freeman chose Penryn because of the large quantities of excellent granite on the surface or just beneath in the surrounding area. It could easily be shipped from the port of Penryn.

Some contracts required perfection. In 1930, for instance, the company undertook an Admiralty contract to construct the Singapore Naval Base. It required water-tight faces.

This meant that the granite stone had to be rubbed and polished with compressed air to the required dimensions, with an acceptable error of only one thousandth of an inch.

John Freeman had a reputation with his workmen for being a fair man. Relations between management and workers were good.

As a result of his popularity, his retirement in 1872 was marked by the whole of his company marching behind Constantine Band from Penryn to his home at Wood Lane, Falmouth.

A dinner was held that evening for 600 men at the Polytechnic Hall. He was presented with a silver cup by his workmen as a token of their regard for him as an employer and in gratitude for his concern for their welfare,

His son was William George Freeman (1827-1911). He came to Penryn in 1861 and was chairman of the company until his death at the age of 84. He headed the firm for 37 years.

Even though his death coincided with a serious labour dispute, he was greatly respected and some of his workers acted as bearers at his funeral in Falmouth.

Another stone company in Penryn was William Hosken’s. When that company closed in 1910, many of the workforce moved to Freeman’s.

In 1913 a Scotsman named George McLeod came to the Penryn area, having formed a partnership with the Richards brothers. They had quarries at Higher Spargo, Mabe, and South Brill, Constantine. Two years later Mr McLeod broke away, but kept Higher Spargo.

George McLeod joined Freeman’s and became a director in 1931. Five years later the two companies merged to become John Freeman and McLeod Ltd.

He died in 1958 aged 83, when still managing director.

The company traded for another seven years until closure in 1965, after 125 years of business in Penryn. Everything was sold off.l,

Their business had brought prosperity to Penryn at a time of deep depression and provided work for hundreds of men not only in Penryn but in the surrounding villages.

In a follow-up book, Penryn Revisited, Ernie Warmington, who donated all his royalty proceeds to Cancer Research UK, highlighted the monumental legacies of John Freeman and McLeod Ltd.

Granite columns, having been created by belt-driven lathes before being dressed and finished, adorned some of Cornwall’s finest country houses, such as Godolphin, near Helston.

Huge blocks of solid granite were formed into lions’ heads for Royal London House in Finsbury Square, London, home of the London Friendly Society.

When London’s Putney Bridge was widened in 1936, the project was made possible by the supply of large blocks of granite from Penryn.

A crucifix made from granite at Freeman’s Yard was transported to Liverpool in the 1950’s for the city’s newly-built Catholic Cathedral, known locally as Paddy’s Wigwam.

A massive inverted granite dome was shipped from Penryn to Calcutta, India, for a Queen Elizabeth Memorial. Freeman’s also made the 4,300 ton tower of the Fastnet Lighthouse, in the Atlantic, by supplying 2,074 stones. That granite came from the Cheesewring on Bodmin Moor.