Historic valley under threat of closure due to vandalism

Historic valley under threat of closure due to vandalism

Marie Allen, who is treasurer of the Tregargus Trust.

28th April 2021

By Natasha Swift

A historic valley which preserves the area’s china clay heritage is in danger of being closed to the public because of fears vandals are gradually destroying its history.

Signs warning people of danger have been defaced or removed and historic buildings are being destroyed in Tregargus Valley near St Stephen.

The Tregargus Trust, which leases the valley from Imerys and maintains it for the public, is at the “end of its tether” with the constant vandalism in the valley, which most recently has seen the destruction of a chimney that dates back more than 100 years.

China stone was quarried and milled in Tregargus Valley from around 1870 until 1965. The valley includes the remains of six china stone mills which, together with their associated stone quarries, are the finest assemblage of stone mills in western Britain.

The spree of destruction has taken a turn for the worse over the last 12 months, with the Trust noticing the damage getting more and more serious. In August, the Trust was told the wall had collapsed on lower Tregargus China Stone Mill, but on expert investigation they were advised that the wall has been purposely pushed out.

Signs put up to warn people and prevent serious injury because of a landslip were graffitied over and a kissing gate enclosure sawn off and thrown in the hedge with nails left sticking out that could injure people and animals.

The list of criminal damage being caused to the historic area is endless, but trustees have had enough and see no alternative but to close the valley if the vandalism does not end.

Marie Allen, who is treasurer of the Trust, told the Voice that as a charity they could no longer afford to pay out thousands of pounds to repair the damage being inflicted on the valley.

Tregargus Trust is a non-profit registered charity which aims to preserve and maintain the historic, domestic and industrial building sites and artefacts situated in the valley.

Marie says: “The chimney is 30ft high - or wide depending on how you look at it - that is attached to a stone mill that’s buried. It has been there for more than 100 years and is part of the story of the valley.

“It is part of the valley’s history that is gradually been destroyed. Motorbikes are prohibited, but people have been seen in the valley with them. I am just getting to the end of my tether with it all.

“We have reported a number of incidents to the police, who have done their best and spoke to the boys who are riding their bikes, but it just continues.

“People saw the kids damaging the chimney, but didn’t have a phone to take a photo. Apart from putting security down there 24/7 we have got to the stage where we may as well close up the valley.

“If these kids want to dig we will give them somewhere to dig, but this is criminal damage. We will consider closing the valley as we are a charity and we cannot afford to keep paying to put right what they are ruining.

“We’d love them to get in touch with our Facebook page and tell us what we can do for them to stop them from ruining the heritage for everyone else.”

Marie told the Voice they had always had issues with small amounts of vandalism, but things had got a lot worse during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We have noticed an increase over the coronavirus pandemic and small incidents of vandalism go on forever,” Marie says. “We are trying to make the valley better, but it’s the youngsters and whatever we do doesn’t get through to them.

“I don’t want to haul them over the coals. We have spent hundreds and hundreds of pounds repairing criminal damage. We spent £3,000 replacing signs which were stolen. We have replaced them twice and we cannot afford to replace them a third time.

“If anyone sees anyone in the valley committing a crime please take a photo and message us on Facebook or the police straight away.

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