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A Narrow Escape For Trevaskis


During the earlier half of the nineteenth century a smuggler called Trevaskis lived in West Cornwall.  He had aquired more than a local reputation for his success in running goods upon the coast, and in finding safe places for them afterwrds till the danger of discovery was past.  It so happened on one occassion a cargo was expected in a little cove to the West of St Ives, a secluded spot admirably suited for the smuggler's needs. Among the few inhabitants of the valley was the owner of a grist mill, a simple old fellow who had never had any dealings with the smugglers himself, but who, on being approached by Trevaskis, good naturedly gave permission for the storage of some goods on his property.

This was done and all seemed well until a few weeks later when a party of excisemen arrived at the cove.  They immediately began poking about the place, and is so doing discovered a nest of brandy kegs cunningly concealed in one of the old man's furze ricks. The miller, needless to nsay, was terribly upset, dreading the loss of his reputation as an honest man evaen more than the legal consequences of his complicity.  At length, however, in return for a bribe of £200 which comprised his life's savings, he succeded in persuading the King's officer to hush the matter up.

It would appear, however that in the course of the inquiry the miller must have revealed the part which Trevaskis had had in the business, for shortly afterwards the sarcher -the exciseman- hoping no doubt for another fat reward if he succeeded in catching so notorious a smuggler, called on the former and chargede him with what he knew.

The smuggler being of a very different type from his confederate, told the exciseman bluntly that he 'warn't going to pay no bribe' and that 'they could put him up to Bodmin (the assize town) if they'd a mind to'.  To Bodmin, accordingly he had to go, accompanied by the exicesman, who no doubt felt in high spirits.  At Hayle the couple boarded the train at the little station that may still be seen in Foundry Square, beneath the arches of the more modern railway line.  Passing along under Clifton Terrace, and through the grounds of the  Penmare House, the train at length reached the foot of Steamer's Hill, near Angharrack, where a stationery engine at that time pulled the trucks up a steep incline to a point near the present Gwinear Road station.  On this occasion, however, the train had not got more than half way up the incline when the wire rope attached to the front carriage parted.  Back rushed the trucks, gathering terrible speed, till finally, reaching the bottom they crashed into a bank and overturned.

Strange to relate, few of the passengers were seriously hurt and only one was killed, that one being the exciseman!  With no one whop could now act as a witness against him, Trevaskis took his own release and returned home, amidst universal triumph, to his own village.

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