Historic shop’s long-hidden pasty heritage found underneath sign

A shop which is being renovated in a bid to save a town’s high street has revealed some long-hidden pasty history.

Artist and historian Kelly Thorne has saved a 200-year-old shop in Camborne’s Commercial Street from being turned into a flat in order to use it to celebrate the town’s history and heritage.

While updating the shop she unveiled some of its more recent history.

Taking down the old shop sign yesterday (Monday, January 4) she found a Rowe’s bakery sign in perfect condition underneath, thought to date from the 1970s and ’80s.

The popular Cornish bakery, which opened its first bakery in Falmouth in 1949, still has a shop in Camborne at nearby Commercial Square.

This isn’t the end of the building’s pasty secrets being unveiled. Removing another layer of the sign, Kelly discovered a faded shop front for Gray’s the Bakers, a local chain which operated in the 1960s.

Kelly is working towards opening The Shaft Gallery, which will celebrate Camborne’s history as well as displaying her own artwork which is inspired by the town’s rich heritage.

She said: “I have been given a lot of great artefacts from South Crofty which will be worked into the design of the space. We have just discovered it has a cellar so we’re thinking of opening a bar and film room space down there. We will have community arts workshops, memory workshops and events bringing the community together.”

The old sign for Gray’s bakery

Kelly added: “I really want to save Camborne’s high street and I hope this renovation will be an example others will follow so we don’t just get converted into flats.”

The street was featured in last year’s Cornwall with Simon Reeve documentary when the travel presenter looked at deprivation in Camborne.

Kelly, who is planning mining-theme street art murals on the building, said: “Because of the abandoned building next door and this shop being left in such a state this part of town is seen as derelict, so my bold ideas will dramatically change that.”

The artist, who was born and raised in Camborne, was brought up in a mining family – her late father Jeff Thorne, also known as Parsons, was a tin miner in the town.

She believes Camborne has massive potential and is passionate about spearheading an economic and cultural resurrection on its streets, including plans to make it an arts destination.

Her plans include 15 murals on buildings across the town, celebrating its mining history.

“Art is very middle class in Cornwall – it’s only available in the very affluent areas. Young people growing up in towns like Camborne have never had access to art, which I’d like to see change.”

She would also like to see other people follow her lead and buy properties, many of which are being sold cheaply by landlords, to boost Camborne’s economy.

“You hear a lot about Camborne falling into decay but it has so much potential. My building was owned by a London landlord and was going to rack and ruin. It would have been turned into a flat but I persuaded the landlord to sell it to me and I managed to get it really cheaply.

“I hope mine will be an example that investors can buy cheap and help Camborne’s future.”

Cornwall Live