The Silvanus Trevail Website

"To remember the man and his work"

 Society Newsletter 2000 



Hazel Harradence


Although there were plenty of new buildings to look at, it was felt that after our last visit to Newquay, a further look was needed at the bank buildings. First at the current Lloyds building, which had been the Cornish Bank, thought to have been erected by Trevail in 1894. We now know that the Cornish Bank Co purchased an old house on this site in 1890 which Trevail altered into banking facilities.

Cornish Bank

The Cornish Bank was taken over by the Capital and Counties Bank in 1902. In 1913 the present building was erected on the same site and Lloyds Bank took over about 1918. The only picture of this building that has been tracked down, is a torn postcard in the possession of the Newquay Old Cornwall Society.

Our next stop was the Devon and Cornwall Bank built, by Trevail, in 1900. Taken over by Lloyds in 1908, this office later closed down. By 1910 Madame Hawke, who ran a large firm manufacturing ladies knitwear, had taken over the premises. Photographs show that the building had a pair of small arched top windows on each street elevation as shown on Trevail’s plans; Madame Hawke must have had them replaced with the larger windows for display purposes and also possibly removed the date stone above the doorway.

From here we walked to the house in Mount Wise built for G.H. Clemens. A modest house with four main rooms on the ground floor, with the kitchen & scullery area on the right; a total of seven bedrooms, two of which were over the kitchen area. Terra-cotta and red brick are the only decoration on this house, with plain barge boards and ridge tiles.

In 1883 Trevail laid out an area known as the Tolcarne Estate for Edward Pearce. It stretched from what is now known as Ulalia Road to the railway line and from the coast to Edgcumbe Avenue. Sometime after this Trevail designed a large number of houses for Newquay, some of which were for specific persons, none of which were dated. Some of these designs were built in Edgcumbe Gardens, Holywell Road and Edgcumbe Avenue, not all have been found.

The owner of the bungalow built in Edgcumbe Avenue has details of the lease of land dated 1907, in which Miss Harriet D. Merrick agreed to build a dwelling house, within 2 years, of not less than £500 in value. The house is shown on the 1908 O.S. map, so building quickly went ahead.

In the 1914 edition of Kelly’s Directory Miss Merrick is shown to be living in Newquay. The leasehold of the land was £10 per year and remained unchanged until 1996, when the current owner purchased the land. The house next door was designed by Trevail for A.H. Jenkin, and consisted of a dining room, drawing room, study and kitchen, scullery etc on the ground floor with 3 bedrooms over.

The third house in this area was for Misses M. & L. Lomax, slightly smaller than the last with dining room, drawing room, kitchen, scullery etc on the ground floor, with 4 bedrooms over. These last two owners were never shown in Kelly’s as living in Newquay, so the houses were possibly built for income.

From here we moved to Edgcumbe Gardens; Trevail laid this out so that the area where houses back onto those in Eliot Gardens was open space, Eliot Gardens being part of Edgcumbe Gardens.

Trevail designed a pair of semi-detached houses which were built here, Mrs Jenour and GF Nicholls being in residence by 1899. One of the pair has been much altered, but the other remains much as Trevail designed it, with the exception of the area filled in under the balcony. The shaped top to the dormer windows is most distinctive and is repeated in the detached house next door, designed for Capt H.C. Fenwick. This has altered very little over the years, with the exception of the roof extension in the gable. Capt. Fenwick was here by 1906, and the current lady owner says her deeds are about the same date.

House in Edgcumbe Gardens

Thurstan Collins also had a house designed by Trevail built in this road; now the Gluvian Park Hotel, it bears little resemblance to its original appearance. One interesting feature found at the far end, on the corner of Ulalia road, is one bay window and dormer window, identical in appearance to those of the semi-detached pair. Obviously a Trevail design, now almost unrecognisable, incorporated into more holiday accommodation – which was what Trevail wanted for Newquay anyway!

Our last stop, the Great Western Hotel, which may be Trevail’s earliest building in Newquay. Designed and built in 1877-8 with 2 floors and attics, it had a pitched roof with several gables. All swept away in the 1920s, with the exception of the foyer, it did however, making a suitable resting-place after our walk. 


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Elizabeth Gosling

The Annual General Meeting of the Silvanus Trevail Society was held at Saffron Close, courtesy of Mrs Joan Serhus. The meeting was followed by a walk around Fowey, guided by Malcolm Surl.

We set off along Hanson Drive and looked at Fowey Hall built by Sir Charles & Lady Hanson; a magnificent house now a luxury hotel. We then turned left into Pike’s Hill where there is a lovely view of Pont Creek - during the war a Squadron of M.T.B.s was based there. We crossed the bottom of St Fimbarras Road and could look across the river to Brazen Island Shipyard, then down Daglands Road to join the Esplanade. Turning left, we passed ‘The Haven’, the house where Sir Arthur Quiller Couch, the author, lived – he was known as ‘Q’. This was on the corner, just above an oddly shaped metal lighthouse beside the river and where the ferry to Polruan leaves during the summer months (in winter it leaves from Town Quay).

Walking along to Varcoes Corner we passed the Old Grammar School Gardens and on reaching Lostwithiel Street saw an old stable turned into a garage with a turntable in it. Space is at a premium in Fowey so this was an excellent way of getting several vehicles into a small area. Walking down towards to Town Quay we saw the Toll Bar with another old building next to it. Opposite was the Ship Inn with some very interesting windows. On the Quay is the building for the Working Mens Institute, established 1868, designed by Silvanus Trevail in 1878.

The King of Prussia pub is also on the Quay with the entrance up some steep steps; underneath, supported by granite pillars, is an area once used as a butter market. On leaving the Quay we turned towards the church and then right passing Lloyds Bank designed by Trevail for the Devon & Cornwall Banking Co in 1903, although not finished until after his death.

Lloyds Bank in Fowey

A little further on is Albert Quay, so named because Queen Victoria and Prince Albert landed here in 1846. Toyne, Carter, who were shipping agents, had their offices here; they were also the vice-consulates for several Baltic countries. This building was the model for the shipping agents featured in Daphne du Maurier's first novel "Loving Spirit"

After passing the Post Office and the Old Customs House, we turned left into Bull Hill, a very narrow lane, and walked alongside the granite-capped wall of Place (with its good view over the facade of Trevail's Lloyds Bank) thence down to South Street. Here we turned right into the churchyard and up through the church porch; the porch being paved with squares of slate placed edge on instead of the usual flat surface.

Walking uphill we passed the Almshouses and Cobb’s Well with its hand pump and large granite trough on our left while on our right an entrance to Place where there was a beautiful scented creeper cascading over the wall – clematis armandii.

Fowey Grammar School - now demolished

Fowey Grammar School - Demolished Sep/Oct 1999.

From here we turned left towards Lostwithiel Street, a little way up it, and left into Daglands Road. From here we looked across to Place, the church and the River Fowey beyond. Moving on up again passing the Fowey Board School designed by Trevail and built in 1877 of granite & Bath stone and now converted into residential accommodation. On the opposite side of the road the Grammar school, originally a Trevail design of 1879, but with later additions; then turning right up the steps towards Hanson drive, the red brick Boys Board School designed by Trevail in 1896 and now a home and studios.

On reaching Hanson Drive, back to where we began our tour, and the home of Mrs Joan Serhus, where we were invited to tea and what an excellent tea it was after our enjoyable walk around Fowey with Malcolm.


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Ronald Perry

One of the rewards of researching the life and times of Silvanus Trevail is the insight it gives into other interesting, but now largely forgotten, figures of Victorian Cornwall. James Hicks, the Redruth architect, is a case in point. Trevail (1851-1903) and Hicks (1846-1896) were near contemporaries.

Both came from middling families (Hicks was the son of the Parish Surveyor) and attended local Grammar Schools (Hicks went to Trevarth School), before leaving Cornwall briefly to be apprenticed as architects (Hicks at Torquay). Both achieved recognition outside their home territory, exhibiting works at the Royal Academy and gaining national awards, Hicks winning a competition to design a memorial church to Wesley in the latter’s birthplace. While Hicks was elected Vice President of the Society of Architects of Great Britain in 1879, Trevail became President a decade later.

Within Cornwall, the two men seized the opportunities offered by the 1870 Education Act, which decreed that a school should be built within the reach of every child, although it was Trevail who captured the lion’s share of the Cornish market.

Hazel Harradence has so far identified fifty-seven designed by him, compared with Hicks’ fifteen. More than half of the Hicks’ schools were in the Camborne-Redruth area, but he won some commissions in Trevail’s territory, at Shortlanesend, Kea and Tregony.

Hicks also made a significant contribution to the flurry of chapel and church building and re-building that characterised the period, with half a dozen commissions in the Camborne-Redruth district, as well as four on the Lizard and another four in the Falmouth and Truro areas.

Perhaps the most important stepping-stone along Hick’s path, however, was his appointment as Chief Agent for Lord Clinton, an important land-owner and politician. For it was on Clinton’s property on the southern outskirts of Redruth that Hicks designed some of his most ambitious projects.

From 1878, he developed a new route to Falmouth, called Clinton Road, at the town end of which he designed the granite Passmore Edwards Library in a Scottish baronial style, the Robert Hunt Memorial Museum, the neighbouring Science and Art School, and opposite, the Gothic west front of St. Andrew’s Church (jointly designed with JP Sedding), which stood next to his own residence in a French Renaissance style.

In the distance, towards the town, can be seen more Hicks’ creations: the Coffee Tavern and the Mining Exchange in Alma Place.

This cluster of imposing buildings not only demonstrates the richness of his stylistic vocabulary, but also the conviction of Hicks and his contemporaries that Redruth, epicentre of the mining collapse, had staved off the trauma of economic failure. Moreover Hicks, like Trevail, was not content to concentrate upon a professional career, however prolific, but was ready to play his part in developing the commercial and municipal life of the area. He opened quarries to supply granite for his own and others’ constructions, as well as forming a company to make a wide range of household goods. When a chance occurred to connect Redruth with a rival railway along the north coast of Cornwall, he fought, with Trevail, to try to release the region from the stranglehold of the GWR.

Like Trevail, too, Hicks made his views felt in local affairs, as Redruth Councillor, often crossing swords with equally forceful and outspoken personalities, such as the Redruth builder, Arthur (later Sir Arthur) Carkeek.

Another common factor between the two men might be mentioned here – their temperament. Possessed of super-abundant talent and vitality, they were intolerant of the shortcomings of less gifted or energetic colleagues in commerce or public affairs, and their impatience often involved them in acrimonious disputes. Nonetheless, Hicks and Carkeek collaborated on a number of important commissions, including the re-building of Tabb’s Hotel in Redruth, just as Trevail worked with Carkeek on such hotels as Housel Bay, the Headland at Newquay and King Arthur’s Castle at Tintagel.

I finish with a slight mystery. Although their paths must have crossed as rivals in architecture, enterprise or public life, I have yet to find any direct links between the two men. Except, that is, for some discreet enquiries, shortly after the death of Hicks, made by Trevail about who was going to be Lord Clinton’s new agent. I should be interested to know if anyone has discovered a direct connection. 

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Helen Trust


It began as a cold and windy day for the annual outing on Saturday 25th September, but we enjoyed the long drive to Boscastle, affording clear coastal views, where we met other members in the car park. I hadn’t been to Boscastle before and was pleasantly surprised by the wealth of unspoilt cottages. The main part of the village is situated on the hill above the harbour. It seemed fitting that Trevail should have designed a school here, complementing, and certainly not detracting from the older buildings clustered around it. The site, formerly an apple orchard, is a smallish one. Much controversy surrounded the decision to have the school built in 1878, it was desperately needed to educate local children, and has dogged its history ever since. It was on the Conservative government’s list for closure but thankfully it was saved and still operates as a school.

We entered the small playground in front of the building from the lane through a granite-pillared gateway. The school has a charmingly cottagey appearance and its small proportions blend in well with the surroundings. Stone built with fine granite mullions, it has a handsome appearance. The steep, hipped Delabole slate roof, with pierced and pointed red ridge tiles cuts prettily into the skyline. Pleasingly, the whole structure has been very well maintained. Yvonne Ayling, the vicar’s wife, was there to meet us to tell us about the school’s history complementing Hazel’s thorough and painstaking research. We viewed copies of the original plans Hazel brought along as we discussed the building.

It was a very interesting and enjoyable visit and the sun was shining as we left Boscastle and set off for the Globe Hotel at Bude. Walking towards the Strand, with the meandering river to our left, the fine proportions of the Globe came into view. We paused a while before crossing the street to study the elegant white painted stucco façade and compare with Trevail’s adjoining terrace of red brick shops. At street level the terrace is emblazoned with garish modern shop signs although the upper floors appear untouched. The Globe, however, has a rather classical entrance with leaded lights above the decorative doorway to the vestibule.

Globe PH - door detail

Impressed with the façade – it proved to be no more than that – we entered the pub where lunch and a tour of the building had been arranged for us. When our eyes adjusted to the murky dimness we were disappointed to find a fake olde worlde interior; the elegance and charm of the outside had foiled us. The proprietor and bar staff, however, welcomed us warmly and showed us to the long table reserved for us right in front of a vast TV screen. The motor racing was over-whelmingly loud and overbearing. Our studious looking group must have seemed incongruous in such surroundings as we groped in the darkness to find our baked potato and lasagne lunches; we could barely see our near neighbours, so conversation outside the immediate group was impossible. Happily our request to turn the TV down was granted. My hopes for upstairs were by now dampened. Well, at least it was a gradual letdown. Little remained of the grand Victorian hotel it once was. We had to smile politely at our guide as he revealed room after room bereft of any character or charm. Remnants of 1960's kitsch were evident amid soulless décor in the large reception/dining room. The rape of this building probably took place decades ago. Looking at Hazel’s plans of the original layout we tried to console ourselves by envisaging how attractive it must have looked in the heyday of this popular resort for the genteel people.

Some you win and some you lose. The next visit, over the border into Devon, was most definitely a winner and I’m sure will be long remembered by us all, not just for the building itself but for kindness and enthusiasm of Mr and Mrs Ogilvy who made us so welcome. It was also a pleasure on this trip to be reacquainted with David Richardson who had come along especially to see this property. His wife Jane, a dancer in the Royal Ballet, was performing in London that weekend, so couldn’t be with us. The previous year some of us had visited their fine Trevail mansion, Tregaddick, set high above the De Lank river near Blisland. Witherdon, near Germansweek in Devon promised, from the plans, to be very similar. David was intrigued.

As we left the driveway and slowed down to park an enchanting creeper covered house stood before us. The front door was open and a friendly dog ran out to meet us; our hosts greeted us warmly. We stood in the great hallway and marvelled at the impressive staircase and fireplace. Its fascinating history was recounted colourfully and interestingly by Mr Ogilvy. He saved it from near dilapidation when he purchased it in 1970; only a few years previously a farmer had allowed ducks and geese to run loose inside. We were invited upstairs, past the large stained glass window displaying the coat of arms of Tredenham Hugh Carlyon-Spry who had commissioned Trevail, and saw most of the rooms. Then Mrs Ogilvy invited us to tea and cakes in the drawing room. Aside from the pleasure of seeing such an impressive Trevail rebuild, those of us who ever doubted whether they were drinking Indian or China Tea will now know the difference! After viewing the impressive exterior from all points of the compass, full of chatter about Witherdon and Mr Ogilvy’s anecdotes, we set off for Cornwall again and Launceston.

Chancing a large fine, we parked as close as possible to the Passmore Edwards Library we had come to see. We were heartened by the sight of this fine building, reminiscent of St Austell’s Red Bank, which corners and spans two streets, two stories graduating to three on this steep site. Ornately Victorian with its attractive little turrets piercing the skyline, the red dripcourses and decorative brick patterns are offset very effectively by the plainness of the stucco walling. The date AD 1899 is set above the top window of the corner elevation; the name of the building appears in large letters between the first and second floors of the main entrance.

Launceston Library     

Beside the doorway a plaque has the wording "Launceston Public Library & Reading Room. Donor J. Passmore Edwards, Esq. 1899. William Prockter, Mayor. Admission Free". The building has been converted into flats, tatty net curtains disgrace the fine windows and the place is generally unloved. Such a pity as it’s a fine building in a commanding situation but in a rather neglected part of town. We were able to get as far as the entrance hall, where we were pleased to see some fine glazed floor tiles, possibly Ruabon, and a staircase with delicate wrought iron balusters. All in all, this trip was the most enjoyable so far for me because we saw such a variety of building styles, all attributable to the skill and imagination of this great and prolific architect.

Thanks, Hazel, for enlightening us once again. 


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The work of properly cataloguing the plans of Silvanus Trevail started in October 1999. At the moment there are eight people working on a rota system as it is not normally possible to have more than three people working at any one time.

As well as cataloguing, a conservation assessment is taking place; many of the sheets are badly damaged due to age and rough handling and many are dirty or stained because of the way in which they were stored for so many years in the attic in Lemon Street. Up to the end of January over 1,300 sheets had been assessed and more than 160 hours worked.

Once the audit is complete the Record Office will be able to assess how best to preserve the plans, and there is already an indication from the Science Museum that some grant support for conservation may be available.

If you would like to help with costs, please send your donations to our Treasurer, Miss Pauline Howard, Sunny Corner Farm House, Sunnyvale Road, Portreath, TR16 4NE.

If you would like to help with cataloguing at the CRO next winter, please contact Hazel Harradence who is the co-ordinator for this work (This work has now finished - Ed).

Dr James Whetter, Chairman


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