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History of Holman's is brought to life

By West Briton  |  Posted: October 11, 2012

  • A payslip from Holman Brothers, 1926. courtesy the Trevithick Society

  • HEAVY INDUSTRY: A boiler is reversed out of the Wesley Street shops, 1909. Pictures courtesy of the Trevithick Society

  • AT WORK: The First World War on the home front: a female lathe operator, 1915.

  • IMPRESSIVE: Above, a 1927 aerial shot of the main Holman's works' site, between Wesley Street and Foundry Road. Below, a payslip from Holman Brothers, 1926.

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ONE of the enduring images of my Seventies' childhood was looking out of my bedroom window on a drizzly, late autumn afternoon; a hooter sounds mournfully, and suddenly the street is thronged with men in overalls walking, riding Honda 90s, driving Ford Escorts, Anglias, Morris 1100s.

This was the scene day in, day out, at knocking-off time at Holman's.

The mining drill company not only kept Camborne's economic heart pumping, but was Camborne, to all intents and purposes.

Now the Trevithick Society has brought those memories back into sharp focus.

It has produced a revised, retitled and expanded edition of the late Clive Carter's book on Cornish engineering, first published 11 years ago to mark the Holman's bicentenary.

This tome, From Holman Brothers To CompAir: The Story Of Camborne's Engineering History, weighs in at an impressive 342 pages. The new edition features 150 never-before published photographs of the company's premises and products, and its employees – at work and play.

The book traces the development of a Cornish engineering dynasty, from its family roots in St Allen and of Menadarva, near Kehelland; through Nicholas senior's collaboration with Trevithick, and the opening of the first Holman's foundry, occupying the site on Camborne's Wesley Street it was to remain in for almost a century and a half.

Examining the company's growth, its role during both world wars, and by including separate chapters on both its social club and the works' choirs, this book recalls the days when a job was not only for life, but a time when companies were far more paternalistic towards their employees.

If you harbour an interest in the former engineering heartbeat of the county, then this book deserves a place in your library.

From Holman Brothers To CompAir: The Story of Camborne's Engineering History is available now at £18.50.

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