by Clifford Trethewey
It is 1839 and John Trethewey is 50 years old. From his home in Plymouth he has discovered an unusually rich source of granite moorstones scattered around the Cheesewring on Bodmin Moor. He has a vision of being a significant granite merchant if only he can gain permission from the Duchy of Cornwall to work them. Tentatively the Duchy grants him one lease after another, but John is fortunate in arriving at the same time as a copper mining boom which can use the stone he can supply. Their first thought is to build a railway so that their ore can reach the canal at Moorswater and John is the man to supply the stone sleepers as the railway is built out from his first small quarry. He helps to modernise the streets and pavements of Liskeard and he supplies the stone for the rebuilding of Looe Harbour, but he is working alone. He needs businessmen and adventurers to invest, but no one knows who he is. John decides to exhibit his granite at the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in 1851. His work wins plaudits and medals, but no one will back him. Yet the vultures circle and are ready to pounce when he decides that he cannot continue. John’s quarry would become famous under the Freeman Brothers, who had watched his work from afar biding their time.