PUBLISHED: 11:47 21 April 2015 | UPDATED: 13:05 30 August 2017

The annual Camborne festival of song and dance helps rekindle his memory, living on in the life of the community that was formerly one of the richest of tin-mining areas in the world

It’s full steam ahead for Camborne’s Trevithick Day on Saturday 25 April. EMMA PARFITT discovers a town where the Cornish spirit of inventiveness lives on. So why not join in the fun?

If you drive, under your own steam, past Redruth in West Cornwall, to Camborne you will discover an April festival of free street entertainment in memory of the inventor Richard Trevithick. Authors have long pondered over the vexed question of exactly what we know about this Cornish-born inventor and the role he played in industrial invention. Born in 1771, reputedly a mile or so from Dolcoath Mine, (affectionately known as The Queen of Cornish Mines), Richard’s father was a Mine Captain, or Chief Engineer. We also discover that Master Trevithick academic prowess was rated none-too-highly in the local schoolmaster’s reports who describe him as a disobedient, slow, obstinate, spoiled boy who was frequently absent and very inattentive.’

Not such a ringing endorsement for one destined to help shape the route of the county’s industrial revolution! But despite such early setbacks, (and it was no smooth rail of a ride along his route to progress), his curiosity in the engineering aspects of mining was obviously sparked at an early age, helping to shape a distinguished engineering career. The story is also blurred by skullduggery and deception in high places, depriving him of the recognition he deserved.

Such are the very real insights we gain from reading Philip Hosken’s booklet GENIUS - Richard Trevithick’s Steam Engines (The Trevithick Society, £7.99 at booksellers or direct, He tells of a Cornish life once lived and the myths that intrude on the facts in the story’s retelling, effectively demisting for us a mirror-image of the inventor’s life. Philip sets us straight, with few diversions in the way of obscure landmarks, stating that Richard Trevithick’s achievements are seldom taught in schools alongside those of James Watt, George Stevenson and Isambard Brunel,’ and that it was his ingenuity and determination that provided the power to drive the industrial and transport revolutions.’

So, today how do we recognise a fellow Cornishman, who lies in an unmarked grave in Dartford, Kent and did not get the recognition he deserved during his lifetime? Author Philip Hosken helps power us towards a resolution: acknowledged by Watt and adopted by Stephenson, Trevithick’s steam engine and boiler were radically different from Watt’s, and the boiler is still the basis for nuclear, oil and gas-powered electrical generation today.’

The annual Camborne festival of song and dance helps rekindle his memory, living on in the life of the community that was formerly one of the richest of tin-mining areas in the world. So if you find yourself dancing a jig, to re-enact the movement of the steam engine, stepping out to the song where The horses stood still or as one of a gathering of modern-day Bal maidens and miners leaving Basset Road at 10.15am, led by miniature steam engines and Camborne town band, we can all play our part in remembering the six-foot two Cornishman in a puff of twirling Black and Gold.

As we do so, we also might spare a thought for another life once lived. On 11 September 2001 Hayle Cornishman Rick Rescoria, a chief security officer, working at the World Trade Centre (WTC) in New York, and a rugby man, sang Cornish rugby songs, on his emergency megaphone, helping keep up morale as he evacuated more than 2,000 employees of Morgan Stanley from the WTC Second Tower.

Survivors have said that they particularly remember him singing a rendition of Camborne Hill. Cyril Richard Rick’ Rescoria was last seen alive on the tenth floor shortly before the building collapsed. The power of Richard Trevithick’s legacy lives on in the hearts of Trelawny’s Army.

Did you know?

The Camborne Trevithick Day Committee was formed in 1983.

The first Trevithick Day was held in 1984.

Highlights of the day: Children’s Bal Maidens and Miners’ dance, accompanied by miniature steam engines and a Trevithick’s Dance and the Steam Parade

Stalls: street fair, dance, street theatre, clowns, buskers, model exhibitions, displays of veteran and vintage vehicles, stationary and steam engines.

Performances by local Cornish male voice choir

Concerts by Camborne Town Band and other local bands

Flower Festival and much more…

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