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Revival begins for foundry that powered Cornish mine industry

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: May 25, 2013

By SIMON PARKER

  • The original cast iron sign which hung over Perran Foundry

  • Developers hope the foundry site will soon be a bustling community

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The site of one of the most important industrial powerhouses of 19th century Britain, which once employed more than 400 men, is to begin its new role as an up-market housing complex.

Perran Foundry at Perranarworthal, between Truro and Falmouth, which has been under development for many years, will open its doors to potential buyers next month.

Established in 1791 by the powerful Fox family of industrialists and philanthropists, the foundry and associated buildings were used in the manufacturing of mining equipment. The Foxes of Falmouth were great innovators of the period, founding the first Polytechnic Society and creating the impressive sub-tropical gardens of Glendurgan and Trebah.

At the peak of Perran Foundry's success, 400 men were employed in the production process, from making wooden patterns for components cast from molten metal in sand, to forging brass bolts to hold them together. They manufactured a range of mining implements and engines, including parts for the largest steam pumping engines ever built, which were used in the 1840s to drain 800 million tons of water from the 180 square kilometre Haarlemmermeer in Holland – now the site of Schiphol Airport.

Today, the former hammer mill, pattern shop, boring mill, boiler house, smithy and wharfside lofts are being converted into apartments. The first show home viewing – arranged by estate agents Heather & Lay and Savills – is due to take place on June 24.

Natalie Oliver, of Heather & Lay, said: "Perran Foundry is very close to our hearts because it was one of the first projects the partners – Tim Heather and John Lay – were asked to appraise when they opened more than 25 years ago. As we celebrate a quarter of a century in business, we are excited to be able to offer people the opportunity to make their home in a location that is key to Cornwall's history, as well as our own.

"Perran Foundry is widely considered to be one of the most important industrial sites of its period. Like Heligan, it had quietly decayed into romantic ruin, settling into its wooded landscape. But now, following years of false starts and failed plans, it is being revived by sensitive renovation and regeneration."

The Hammer Mill show home will offer buyers the chance to experience one of seven new units. Set in what was originally the heart of the old foundry, each property will comprise up to four bedrooms over three floors. For details visitwww.perranfoundry.com

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