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Trevithick Day | 30th April 2016

Trevithick day

The last Saturday in April in Cornwall can only mean one thing – Trevithick Day. A day of festivities dedicated to Camborne’s most famous son, Richard Trevithick, the whole town comes together to celebrate, and you’re invited.  An annual event since 1984, it’s also an opportunity to find out more about the area’s unique industrial heritage, Cornwall’s mining past and the wonders of high pressure steam-power as pioneered by Trevithick. A steam themed street party, free to all, the town’s streets are closed to traffic and lined with lots of exciting stalls.


The packed programme starts at 10.15am when hundreds of children from local schools dress in traditional costume for the Bal Maidens and Miners Dance. Led by the acclaimed Camborne Town Band, be sure to arrive in good time and not to miss it. In the afternoon it’s the turn of the adults, as they wend their way through the streets for Trevithick’s Dance, wearing Cornish colours. Entertainment throughout the day for 2016 takes place in one of five ‘hubs’ and includes performances from choirs, bands, solo musicians, as well as street theatre shows, with the Nos Lowen Stage playing host to the diverse talents of Bagas Crowd, Skwardva, Tros an Treys, Skillywidden, Tyr ha Tavas, Salt and Sky Scoot Lyskerrys and more – the cream of Cornish music and dance.


The flower festival always proves popular, as do a model exhibition, and a static engine display. The latter is a real treat for steam buffs, as it features dozens of stationary engines and steam vehicles, including a replica of Trevithick’s Road Carriage – the first full-sized automotive to run on a roadway under its own power, successfully driven in Camborne in 1801. Also on view will be a variety of vintage vehicles and fair organs, while the kids will probably want to make a beeline for the fairground rides, making it a great day out for the whole family.


The main event though has to be the Parade of Steam Engines at 3.15pm, where an astonishing cavalcade of steam powered vehicles of all shapes and sizes, rumble, puff, hiss, rattle, splutter and belch through the town. A colourful cacophony of wheeled machinery, automobiles, carriages, buses, tractors, steamrollers and more, and not a drop of petrol or diesel in sight, Trevithick would have been chuffed.


An engineer whose cutting edge inventions were at the forefront of the industrial revolution, the technological advances he made possible through harnessing high pressure steam were groundbreaking.  Pivotal in increasing the efficiency of the engines used to pump out the water which seeps into copper and tin mines, Trevithick improved both safety and mining yield. But in the mid 1800s, a declining mining industry forced thousands of Cousin Jacks to emigrate seeking a better life. Many sailed to Peru, including Trevithick who spent eleven years in South America, his innovative engines paving the way for the skilled Cornish workers required to install and operate them. You can still but pasties in some places in Peru!


A man of ideas and unique vision, prepared to follow his passions in spite of all the hardship he endured, the Trevithick Day organisers, a group of enthusiastic volunteers, believe this special event not only celebrates Cornwall’s illustrious engineering past, but also its optimistic future.

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