FIFTY years ago, Sir John Betjeman described St Hilary as a "barren, sad place" in his Shell Guide To Cornwall, writes Frank Ruhrmund.
Making reference to the celebrated vicar Bernard Walke, who ran the village church in the 1920s and 1930s, he said there were few services left in the village and the home for crippled children which the Reverend Walke and his wife founded decades earlier was "dispersed". But that was more than half a century ago and things have changed considerably in St Hilary since then.
The village is now celebrating the completion of the restoration of its Old School following two years of work by local builder Shaun Rothwell and his Rothwell Historical Restoration team.
With the building unused and neglected for a number of years, the project was made possible with funding from a variety of sources, including the Heritage Lottery Fund, Cornwall Committee Foundation, Grass Roots Grants, West Cornwall Local Action Group, St Hilary Parish Council, Cornwall County Council, and any number of individuals and groups.
St Hilary now has a community centre, plus a heritage centre, of which it can be justly proud.
Once the centre of a thriving mining industry, in the mid-19th century the school had 70 children on its books.
Its heritage centre, as well as paying due tribute to the life and times of Bernard Walke, also contains displays of the mining, engineering and farming carried out in the area, and helps make the attractively restored Old School a piece of living history.
The Old School building is currently hosting an exhibition of drawings and paintings by those who recently attended a series of workshops run by Goldsithney artist Clive Williams.
Mounted as a means of raising funds for the restored building, Williams is giving half his tuition fees and a third of the proceeds from the sale of one of his landscapes, Tregurtha, to the fund.
The works in the exhibition, as might be expected, are mainly either of the local landscape or of some aspect of St Hilary Church.
Those attending the workshops range in experience from absolute beginners to established artists and the exhibition includes works from Mary Allen, Wendy Blain, Anne Boss, Derek and Carol Brown, Donnette Bufton, Lesley Farr, Tony Holman, Lesley Michell, Lyn Norman, Chris Pryce-Jones, Susan Shafer, Anna Sidney, Heather Stewart and Jeanette Williams.
It is open 10am to 4pm until the end of October, when it will be open on Wednesdays only, or by arrangement. Further information from Lesley Michell, on 01736 710229, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org