St. Day is a township with a history going back to medieval times when it was a place of pilgrimage.
In the 18th & 19th centuries it was at the heart of the Cornish Mining Industry and much of the centre of St. Day dates from this period. Trade Directories indicate as many as 65 businesses in St. Day in 1870
Many of the buildings still show evidence of their former use as shops. In consequence there is much of architectural interest and the centre of St. Day has been designated a conservation area. Almost 50 properties are subject to further protection by being listed, including the whole of Mills St. A recent review by consultants may add to the size of the area and the number of properties designated.
The decline of the mining industry and the subsequent emigration in the latter half of the 19th century were great economic blows to the area and, coupled with the fact that many properties were owned until the middle of the 20th century by absentee landlords, caused much of the centre to become very dilapidated.
In the mid nineties the Parish Council worked first with Groundwork Kerrier and then with Kerrier District Council to set up the Mining Villages Regeneration Group (covering Lanner and Carharrack as well as St. Day) which obtained money from both District and County Councils, the Government and the European Union. This was one of the first rural areas in the country to obtain Objective 5B funding for such a scheme. Town Trail leaflets and 2 interpretative boards were created giving some of the history of the area and pointing out places of interest.
This resulted in the capping of several mineshafts and landscaping of the areas concerned. Market Square, which was an eyesore with uneven cobbles, an unsightly public toilet, children’s play equipment and two demolished houses, was re-laid with granite setts and three granite fronted cottages built by the W. J. Mills Cottages Trust and a new bellcote was fitted to the Clock Tower.
The untidy grassed area in front of Buckingham Terrace was landscaped. Vogue Terrace was resurfaced and railings and new steps fitted. Also the cobbled and tiled pavements at West End/Chapel Street and in front of the Community Centre were re-laid.
The St. Day Old Church Appeal Committee developed plans to conserve the derelict building and to open it to the public as an Interpretative Centre for the extensive former Gwennap Mining Area (St. Day was formerly a part of Gwennap Parish). It can also be used as a performance venue and this was incorporated into the scheme. A Community Interest Charity has now been set up to manage the Old Church.
A Youth and Sports Association was formed and was successful in replacing the run down changing rooms at Vogue with a fine new building, which includes a space for a Youth Club, a large hall with a kitchen and a small computer room as well as changing facilities. There are 2 football pitches and a cricket pitch.
Our close proximity to the landfill site on United Downs made us eligible for grants from the Landfill Tax so the Community Centre and the Parish and Methodist Churches were able to carry out extensive refurbishment work. County Environmental Services also funded the introduction of lower speed limits in the area and the construction of pavements on the road from Crofthandy, along Tolgullow and a pedestrian route via School Hill to Carharrack.
We have also been successful in working with the Mineral Tramways Group and several improvements have been carried out with its help. The resurfacing of the area in front of the Wheal Jewell play area being the most obvious.
These improvements have given St. Day a big boost and have led to many householders carrying out improvements to their properties.
The advent of Objective One Funding saw the Mining Villages Group expanded to include Gwennap and Stithians parishes, and more recently Chacewater and Portreath parishes also asked to join and, together with The Mineral Tramways Project, has funded further improvements to the street scene in St. Day, created features at the entrances, improved road safety at junctions and extended and improved the network of trails around the mining heritage of the area.
Some organisations will not fund parish councils so Action St. Day was formed from representatives of various local groups. The parish council notice board, the very popular Parish Newsletter and the modern play equipment on the Wheal Jewell playing field are examples of how this group succeeded.
The Parish Council also obtained a free allocation of trees to plant around the Wheal Jewell playing field and various individuals have donated public seats which the council maintains.
Most recently the Town Clock, having been handed over by Cornwall Council, has been completely renovated and a modern clock mechanism installed. The total cost of £100k, including Community Involvement Events required by the Heritage Lottery Fund, was funded by HLF, Cornwall Council, Cory and Sita Environmental Trusts, W.J. Mills Grant Fund, St. Day Parish Council and, most importantly, contributions from residents which convinced the funders that the public were behind the scheme. We are also indebted to the local Daylight Group who organised the community events and raised further funds.
The area is now included in the Cornwall and West Devon Mining World Heritage Site and it is expected that this will create worldwide interest in the area, particularly among the millions of descendants of those mining families who emigrated when Cornish Mining declined.
The Mining Villages are now working with the Camborne Redruth Urban area to create a website giving details of walks in the area to attract more tourists.
The Historic Churchyards Project hopes to tap into the worldwide interest in genealogy. The churchyards of Gwennap, Lanner, Stithians and St. Day have been tidied and details of the graves are available on the website: www.churchyardproject.net.