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Count House


The National Trust website describes a Count House as follows -

“Most 19th-century mines had account houses, or 'count houses' to provide office space for the purser and his managerial staff. They were generally grander than other local buildings. As the public face of mining, they had to look refined as well as solid and prosperous in order to reassure investors and the world at large. A count house was principally the office from which the mine was run on a day-to-day basis; here the miners were paid and the rights to work or 'pitches' within the mine were auctioned on 'setting days'.

They were also the scene of renowned count house dinners provided for the adventurers (shareholders) on days where accounts were to be read and approved. Notoriously lavish and wild affairs in the early days, these dinners had become pale shadows of their former selves by the late 19th century, tempered by the cold winds of economy which were by then blowing through the mining industry.”


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It is difficult to say exactly when the Count House was built. In the earlier days when Mellanear was part of a much larger mining concern then the count house could be nearer to the main site. However as I am dealing with the portion at Mellanear; and during its final years, then this Count House was built in the last two attempts – namely 1874 – 1876 and 1876 – 1890.

These two sets of dates are no more than a legal issue when one company failed and another started up using the same assets. John Gilbert was appointed Chief Agent of Mellanear Mine in 1876 and that is a good enough date to start with. The Count House was built on a parcel of land already in the ownership of the mine and right on top of all the workings. It is not shown on the 1880 Ordnance Survey map but is shown on the 1908 one.

I have not searched all years of Kellys directories but it looks as though John Gilbert, the Mine Agent was living on the job in 1883 and again in 1889 according to the next available Kellys. In the 1893 Kellys edition he has gone and Richard Hodge Paynter is living there instead.

The 1891 Census shows Richard Hodge Paynter living there with his family.

An auction of mine assets, including ‘the old Count House’ was held on 8th February 1889, but it looks as though there were no takers because the local newspaper published details of the auction of the Count House two weeks before the auction date in 1890 and stated -

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“To be leased by auction at the White Hart Hotel, Hayle, on Monday January 13.

At 6 pm, by Mr Edward Mitchell, for a term of 60 years (subject to a conventionary rent of 10s and such conditions as shall be then read), all that Account House and store adjoining, together with about ¼ acre land surrounding the same, situate at Mellanear, Hayle, and recently occupied the Mellanear Mining Company. The purchaser shall covenant to convert the above into one or more dwelling houses. This is a large house, situate in a healthy position, containing 8 lofty rooms, well built, and, if necessary, can be easily converted into two good dwellings, and a store into a good cottage.

For further particulars, apply to Mr. Goldsworthy, Trelisick, to the Auctioneer, Lelant or to, Messrs Whitford and Son, Solicitors, St. Columb. Dated December 28, 1889.”

It would appear that Captain Paynter, a retired sea captain, acquired the Count House and moved in with his wife and eight children. They remained in the property, almost untouched over the years, until the last member of the family died in 1957 and after that date it was sold and no doubt its history forgotten. Local memories passed down from father to son had always believed this building to be the Count House and I believe this now to be proved.

Today the house has been extensively modernised and turned into two houses. The out building has been demolished and a new house built on its footprint. The size of the plot has been reduced as a result of the A30 by pass built close to the edge.