How Trevithick Day began

BY TREVOR DALLEY (The founder and Honorary Life President)

In January 1983 a meeting of the Camborne Traders Association turned into a free for all of dissent and despair. Companies were being asset stripped by greedy entrepreneurs and depriving Cornwall of its traditional industries. Redundancies were rife; starving the retail trade of much needed income. As important, was the dent in Cornish pride of downsizing and closures of the likes of Holmans and South Crofty. Many unkind remarks were made that evening, particularly about the state of Camborne. How it was a dying town. I went home very angry! I had difficulty getting to sleep that night, mulling over all that had been said and thinking that what was needed was a special occasion to bring the community together to take pride in our town.  I nodded off only to suddenly awake at two am; there like a bolt out of the blue was the answer! Camborne Trevithick Day! Even images were provided! Steam engines leading dancers up Trelowarren Street. Opposite my grandfather’s shop of the 1930s. Climax Choir singing on the steps of Trelowarren St. Chapel, now Costa. Those images remain with me to this very day.

It’s a centuries old tradition that we Cornish dance through our towns or villages on fair days and high days. I was determined that at least two processional dances would provide a frame from which the festival would hang. There just had to be a dance. 

Firstly the music. Musician Geoffrey Self married the tunes “Going up Camborne Hill Coming Down” and “Camborne Worthies” together in a tempo suitable to dance to. Camborne Worthies was first noted in 1821 when Trevithick was alive. We gathered ten cohorts of Cornish dance enthusiasts at the Pool leisure Centre where they competed for the best processional dance. In 1983, Rebecca Bond & Camborne Rotaract won the competition for devising the processional dance for Trevithick Day.  Rebecca proudly led her Trevithick's Dance at every Trevithick Day for 30 years until 2013, a dance that has become the very fabric of the day. A Camborne dance to a Camborne tune! The choreography of the dance describes that initial famous journey.

That first Trevithick Day on Saturday the 28th April 1984 turned out to be a beautiful day. People were turning up to shop, then realised that Trevithick Day was a reality and rushed home to change.

Most of the town’s primary schools had groups of pupils that danced in the morning’s Balmaidens & Miners’ dance while in the afternoon two committee members took part in the Trevithick’s Dance in the company of invited folk, members of Roteract and Ross Keltic. The entourage was led by David Solomon with his traction engine, Phoenix.  The other three of us walked between the engine and Camborne Town Band in the company of a few local politicians who had helped us. We were applauded and cheered all through the town. I felt ten feet tall. A day I shall never forget.

These days Trevithick Day attracts huge numbers from far and wide.

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