Life in the Parish

exerpted from the West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser, 6 April, 1849
(J. Mosman, OPC)


This very extensive parish represents within itself a portion of most, if not all, of our principal industrial county interests, mining and mineral, agricultural and commercial, maritime and manufacturing (principally foundries). The present population range is about twelve thousand, and its parish valuation rental about £ 23,000 per annum.


The aggregate of the different parish rates collected in the past years was between £ 5,000 and £6,000, being an increase of about fifty per cent since the introduction of the new poor law into this district. This enormous increase is now felt as an intolerable burden by many of the rate-payers, and a rapid and serious depreciation in the sale of all [field?] property has been the consequent result.


The new system has most signally failed in this locality in its paramount professed object - a reduction of parochial expenditure - and the system of "union and centralisation" works wretchedly, from the great expense of its complicated machinery in costly erections, staff of officials, system of contracts, etc. In addition to its other heavy burdens the parish of St. Austell has been saddled with a church-rate within the last two years. Attempts were made by some of the well-disposed parishioners to substitute a voluntary assessment, instead of a direct rate. This, however, was contemptuously rejected by the church party. The vast majority of the inhabitants of the parish are dissenters, and from twenty to thirty places of religious worship apart from the establishment are supported by the various Christian sects. The enforcement of the payment of church-rates leads, in this parish as in many other parts of the kingdom, to scenes alike disgraceful to our common Christianity and to the legislation of the nineteenth century.


We deeply regret to state that, owing to discrepancy and confusion in the accounts of the Actuary of the "East Powder Savings Bank," centralized at St. Austell, its operations have lately been suspended, at least in respect to further receipts or deposits. We fear that this event will cause serious inconvenience if not positive distress to many of its numerous depositors. From the high character and principle, however, of some of the trustees, we have no doubt but that, after a suitable time, the affairs of this institution will be satisfactorily arranged. But confidence in these useful and excellent institutions is now most seriously impaired amongst the industrial and economical masses of this densely-populated district. The exposures which have lately taken place in this country and Ireland of the loose and irregular system of management of many of these concerns, will compel the government to pass more stringent laws for their better security and management.


It is a singular and by no means creditable fact connected with the town of St. Austell, that no institution, having for its object the social, intellectual, and physical welfare of the community, has been able to maintain its standing in the place, but ultimately sinks or breaks down, and such has been the case with its Savings Bank, Literary Institution, Public Library and Reading Room, and Farmers' Club. We hope its newly formed Cottage Gardening Society may meet with better and more lasting success.


* When reading this report, one must keep in mind the West Brition was published in Truro, and there were local prejudices, rivalry, and pride involved. However, that in no way means the report is not truthful.


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