On this Day 16th December 1950

No Stone Unturned: Royal Geological Society of Cornwall AGM

Royal Geological Society of Cornwall logoThere were many diversions on offer today in Penzance, as is to be expected during the festive season. We might usually expect interest from Camborne. But we’re up against particularly stiff competition today: the Folk Dance Club have their annual party, the lads at the Boys’ Secondary Modern are giving a music and drama concert , and the boot-menders are holding a crisis meeting because leather’s up to ten shillings a pound and nobody can afford shoe repairs. Illogan Methodist Church is re-opening today after its renovation. There’s a big wedding at St Erth, and at Redruth the funeral of Mr Hattam, who, being a butcher for 50 years, was a well-known and well-respected man. Plus of course all the usual sport, cinema and so forth. And what with all the snow and hail yesterday - trains late, post late –we were worried as to whether folk would venture out.

And so we, that is the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall, were particularly gratified by the turnout for our annual meeting at Penzance. And to be sure, we have had a very good year. 2,112 people have signed the visitors’ book, which means that – taking into account those who do not care to leave their details – it is safe to assume that 3,000 will have come through the door of our museum in the west wing of St John’s Hall. Some, perhaps, were idly curious, or killing time before their buses left from the Greenmarket, or sheltering from the rain. But among the number will have been youngsters, thrilled by the strange colours and forms that lie beneath the ground. And of these, we can expect, some will be the mining engineers of tomorrow.

The Royal Geological Society of Cornwall Museum in St John's Hall (courtesy John Chapman Architectural Solutions)

The Royal Geological Society of Cornwall Museum in St John's Hall
(courtesy John Chapman Architectural Solutions)

We have done our best to spread the word, lending some of Sir Humphry’s exhibits to a special exhibition being held in Bristol, where a plaque has been installed to mark the place where the Great Man did his early work. And we have contributed to knowledge about the precise origins of greenstones, used for axes in prehistoric times. Thus geology may still be considered at the cutting edge of scientific research – if you will excuse the pun – even in the coming age of rocket travel.

And our hard-working secretary Miss Ada Williams, receiving the gold medal in recognition of all her hard work, added a feminine touch – pointing out that “among the things she had learnt in mineralogy was the ability to avoid being cheated”. Fake jewellery, it seems, is everywhere – but a little rudimentary knowledge equips the shopper to give dusty answer to rogues and swindlers.

The Society’s finances are in a healthy state, with £7 in the museum collecting box contributing to a healthy £34 surplus (although it is true that some works have not been undertaken as planned).

We may rest easy in the knowledge that – come television, come what may - the future of the Society is assured.

Cornishman, Thursday 21st December 1950, page 6 (main story) – other stories appear on other pages

The Geological Society still holds annual meetings in Penzance (accessed 30 11 2017). Wikipedia does not list Ada Williams as among the winners of the Bolitho Gold Medal and the charitable fund supporting does not yield any information (accessed 30 11 2017). On This Day would be interested to hear from readers who remember the Museum, or have further information about Ada Williams and her medal.



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Penwith Local History Group
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Growing Up in West Cornwall. A Publication by the Penwith Local History Group

"Growing Up in West Cornwall"

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Sally Corbet

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