23 July 2014

Work starts at King Edward Mine to save two historic buildings

Midas Group Ltd have started work on the conservation and refurbishment of two redundant Grade II* Listed buildings at King Edward Mine near Camborne.  The project will give a new lease of life to the former Count House and Carpenters' Shop complexes, creating nine affordable workspaces for local businesses, ready for occupation from March 2015.

Phil Kitchener, Midas Site Manager said: ‘The Midas Group Ltd is very pleased to be awarded the King Edward Mine heritage project to add to the list of mine attractions like Geevor Tin Mine and Heartlands that we've been involved in.  The site team leading this project bring good background knowledge of the skills required with this type of refurbishment on Grade II* Listed buildings.'

In order to achieve BREEAM ‘Very Good' rating so the refurbished buildings are as sustainable as they can be and in compliance with best practice in heritage conservation, Midas have brought in specialist skills to work on the project as Phil went on to say: ‘We will be using specialist heritage contractors to apply traditional skills and materials to conserve the two buildings.  The work will include lime pointing, lime washing to the external walls, traditional carpentry, stonework and scantle slate roofing skills.'

A specialist project like King Edward Mine is a rare construction opportunity and Midas intend to go the extra mile to pass this building knowledge on to the next generation by bringing apprentices onto the site, as Phil explained: ‘By supporting apprentices and working with local colleges we feel that local young people will not only learn new skills, but gain an interest in historic building conservation which is so important for working in Cornwall.  Many historic buildings are looked after by voluntary organisations and so we are also planning to hold a community training day where anyone interested in trying their hand at heritage conservation can come and have a go!'

Councillor Julian German, Cornwall Council Cabinet Member for Economy & Culture, said: "Bringing historic buildings such as these back into economic use not only ensures that they are saved as part of Cornwall's Mining World Heritage Site, but also creates much-needed ‘grow on' spaces for local businesses.  In addition, conservation projects such as this offer an excellent opportunity to train the next generation in traditional building skills, such as working with Cornish slate. The KEM Workspace Project will create high quality, distinctive work spaces just outside Camborne, which we will be marketing primarily to the creative industry and knowledge economy sectors and ready for occupation early in 2015."  

Trevor Humphreys, Project Management Consultant for Cornwall Council, said that he was excited to have the opportunity to bring these buildings back to life, but that: "There are many challenges still to overcome, not least the mine shaft that has been found underneath the Count House building!" Trevor Humphreys Associates specialise in bespoke heritage and arts based projects including the award winning Porthmeor Studios and Porthcurno Telegraph Museum that has just opened its doors with a new exhibition. "By working in partnership with Cornwall Council our enthusiastic project team are committed to providing an exemplary project which will be an asset to the local community and the wider ERDF Convergence Programme's legacy."

St Ives based architects Poynton Bradbury Wynter Cole is providing conservation architectural services for the project. Paul Perry, lead architect said: ‘PBWC Architects are delighted to be involved with such a unique heritage project as we are based here in Cornwall. We take pride in being part of the team which will conserve and convert these buildings within the World Heritage Site. We are one of the few architectural practices to specialise in historic building conservation in Cornwall and we bring experience of delivering other successful ERDF projects here and on the Isles of Scilly.'

King Edward Mine, former home of Camborne School of Mines, was bought by Cornwall Council in 2009 and is substantially leased to a local charity to run as a mining heritage attraction.  The site is recognised as having Outstanding Universal Value as the best preserved mine within the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site (WHS) for the pre-1920 period.   The entire complex is within the WHS and includes sixteen buildings Listed Grade II* and South Condurrow Stamps Engine House which is Listed Grade II.

King Edward Mine Museum is an award-winning heritage attraction containing extremely rare milling equipment that has been expertly restored and brought back into working order by volunteers.  The museum is run by a local charity with opening times published on their website:  www.kingedwardmine.co.uk

The King Edward Mine Workspace Project will support the long-term sustainability of this important part of Cornwall's industrial heritage and has been made possible through a grant from the ERDF Convergence Programme and investment by Cornwall Council.

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