Research group Penzance

Helen Davies

I did Ransackers in 2008 and 2009. I was inspired by Kathleen Hughes to set up a U3A Research group in Penzance and below are some of the group’s research findings.


Llyn Aubrey

I became interested in u3a as there was very little to engage me in Penzance. I’ve been delighted to see it grow and become a very worthwhile organisation. Joining the research group was a big interest of mine having made films in the local area; two of which were broadcast on C4. I have also been a representative for Cornwall at the then called International Film and TV organisation. This festival goes around Scotland, Wales, Eire, N. Ireland and Brittany, showing films that represent local talent and interest. It is something that I am no longer involved with but researching ideas is something I am keen on.

Helen had been involved in fabulous research, having had a grant to do so, and very involved in her local community.

I really like the idea of the owner of a local house and gardens being originally a slave owner, back in the 1700. Very fascinating, as that is very unusual in this local area which at one time was very fabulously rich, on the backs of mining. In fact, the richest place in the UK in the mid 1800.

This area has a fascinating history, a very good private library, which has numerous books on local knowledge and is an area very renowned for its art. I feel the group is very talented and keen to press forward with its ideas, the meetings are very lively!

Sue Wilson

I moved to Penzance in Sept 2017 not knowing a single soul. To my surprise one day I was given a leaflet in the street promoting a new u3a group being launched. I went to the meeting and decided to join the Research group. My individual research was to find out why the area I live is called the Battlefields, as one of the many theories for this name being a battle between land owners who wanted to build houses. The other, an ancient legend that it was a battle between two tribes over land. We also did a group research about our Grandmothers. It was inspiring, not only to find out so much about my Grandmother but also to hear about the lives of my fellow researchers and their Grandmothers.

My fellow researchers have given me encouragement and inspired me to dig and delve into all sorts of things, my present one being famous Cornish women. I look forward to our meetings and it has helped me gain so much pleasure out of research and the friendship we share as a group.


Margaret Carter

My name is Margaret Carter and I joined the research group not knowing what to expect.
Helen has guided us through the process and our first project as a group was to research into our Grandmothers lives, which was a fascinating project that we all enjoyed.
We then embarked on our own research subject and I researched into the
Tsunami that hit the Cornish coast in 1755. This followed an earthquake in Lisbon, which caused much loss of life and property. There was also folk legend about a giant wave hitting the Cornish coast in the 11th century and researchers have since found deposits from the same time period that indicate that there had indeed been a Tsunami.

We share our research with the group which leads to many lively and interesting discussions.

Below is a synopsis of my research into my Grandmother.

My Grandmother EMMA WIXEY Nee Dixon
Born in Llanhilleth Monmouthshire on 25th February 1881 the eldest of 10 children.
Emma went into service as a cook in a boarding house as soon as she was old enough. In 1903 she married Mark Wixey an agricultural worker who moved from Somerset to Wales and became a coal miner. They had seven children.

She ran a small shop in Llanhilleth, which went bankrupt during the 1920’s miners’ strike. In 1926 they moved to Oxfordshire, renting a farm from the Church Commission called Marcham Mill, a Water Mill on the river Ock.  They remained farming there until 1943 when they moved to South Farm in Challow. Emma built up a thriving business raising and selling Chickens, Geese Ducks but mainly Turkeys. My grandfather died in 1949 and she was left the farm.

In the late 1950’s my Grandmother and three of her sisters ran The Greyhound pub in Besseliegh. Emma then moved to Stanford in the Vale with one of her daughters until her death at the age of 96.


Gillian Warne

One thing leads to another…………..
Our small research group led by Helen really does lead from one thing to another. I start delving into a subject which consequently led me to another one which in turn took me off on another track. It is incredibly fascinating. I am hooked.
So far, I have researched into slavery and was amazed to learn how much the slave owners were paid to lose their slaves on abolition. Nothing to the slaves themselves though. Unbelievable.
I have also touched on Cornish smuggling.  The reputation of the skill with which these Cornish people built their tunnels led to them being in demand worldwide. Hence the wide immigration to all corners of the earth.

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