History was brought to life when the granddaughter of a Cornish tin mill worker retraced his footsteps a century later.

Tolgus Mill is now part of Cornish Gold, near Redruth, but in the early 1900s it was part of a fully working tin mine where Richard Staunton was an accountant.

His granddaughter Helen Shattock has now contacted the mill to share his story, which gives an insight into the working and living conditions at the time.

Richard lived with his wife Miriam just up the road from the mill at Tolgus Place, Redruth.

Falmouth Packet:

Richard Staunton died two years after the end of Second World War

They had four children born between 1908 and 1913: Richard, Violet, Ethel - Helen’s mum - and James. Sadly Miriam died of TB in 1913 and six-week-old James died shortly afterwards. They were buried together in Camborne.

Miriam’s dying wish was for her girls to be sent to a convent to be looked after properly and when their father Richard left Tolgus Mill in 1914, to fight in the First World War, this took place.

Falmouth Packet:

Miriam Staunton, who died in 1913

The two sisters were sent to a Catholic orphanage in Penzance aged just three and 18 months. Little Richard, who was by then aged six, had to walk for three days to find his grandmother who lived on Dartmoor.

Richard subsequently senior returned from the war and lived in Cornwall until his death in 1947.

This was not to be the end of the family’s troubles, however. Ethel was unable to walk until she was five due to rickets and then lost her sight aged 12 from chicken pox.

When this happened, the nuns sent her to a hospital in London where, at age 18, she found herself alone in the grounds in a thunderstorm, terrified.

Falmouth Packet:

Young Richard Staunton (junior) who had to walk to Dartmoor aged six

However, she took shelter in a tiny outhouse and heard a voice in her head saying “Don’t be afraid, it is only God’s finger” – and from that moment on her sight was perfectly restored.

She lived in a closed convent, only leaving the confines on three days of the year, until at the age of 28 she was thrust into the outside world when she joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) during the Second World War.

She went on to have Helen as a daughter and the rest is, quite literally, history.

Falmouth Packet:

Tolgus Mill today

A Cornwall Gold spokesperson said: “We sent Helen Shattock one of our Tolgus Granite Pendants as a thank you for sharing her story and to provide her with a link to her grandfather who she never met, Tolgus Mill and her Cornish heritage.

“It contains tin produced in Tolgus Mill where her grandfather worked and Cornish granite.”