Visit to Grampound
1st June 2023
Our first visit of the year to Grampound, after three years in the making, was a delight. 28 members joined for the day meeting in the Village Hall (which is celebrating its 100th birthday later this year).
The focus of the day was ‘Tales from the Tannery’. Manor Tannery was run by the Croggan Family for over 300 years. Tanning needs hides and water. Grampound had both as it had a regular cattle market, since medieval times, and a stream going into the River Fowey.
Jane Sloan presented a short history of the industry, which began for the Croggan family in the late 1700s. It was a successful industry but by 1965 the Manor Tannery was one of the few remaining oak bark and acorn tanneries left in the UK. Jane was very informative and told us lots of stories about the Croggan family. We also found out that the soles of Roger Bannister’s running shoes were made from this tannery when he ran the four minute mile in 1954.
Tanning is a very long process. The hides had to be left in the pits for many months as it was the leather used for harnesses and boots. As demand changed, the leather was used for soles of shoes, and was even sent to Lobbs of London - a high class shoe maker, making shoes for royalty.
After the talk, we walked up through the village to the oldest remaining area of the Manor Tannery known as the Limes. Jane Sloan and Liz Fisher also spoke more generally about Grampound as we walked.
The Limes are currently under restoration, and the original water wheel is being restored to be returned to the Limes in the future. The site also has two ruined buildings, a pond and water course. Volunteers are working to keep the site visible and accessible.
The area now is a housing estate, but the most interesting part is where they have kept evidence of the industry, such as the louvres of the drying sheds, which have been replicated in some of the buildings. Two of the buildings have also been listed, with the stone walls and steps repaired and kept in place. Well worth a visit.
We then walked back through the village to the Village Hall. We passed the town hall, which was damaged by a car in December 2022. The Heritage Centre is on the ground floor and will be re-opening soon.
We then enjoyed a pasty lunch, followed by two short films showing the Manor Tannery at work. They really gave us an insight of what the ‘Limes’ area would have looked like when the tannery was in production.
Many thanks to the volunteers at the Heritage Project for the displays of items and the photos in the Village Hall. It was a very informative and interesting day.
To Jane Sloan and Liz Fisher (chair), I give my greatest thanks - all the members enjoyed the visit as much me.