Money & Power
Philip Ball & Son founded a bank in Mevagissey in 1807, issuing its own bank notes, a copy of which can be seen in the museum along with the old bank door, which was saved after renovations in 1976.
The bank went bankrupt in 1824 causing much hardship to the people of Mevagissey. The Ball family's debt to the village was more than repaid, however, by Philip's son, Timothy, who became the local doctor and nursed Mevagissey through the cholera epidemic of 1849, when 115 people died in five weeks.
Here in the museum, you can see a Mevagissey £1 note.
Mevagissey has the distinction of being the first village in Cornwall to benefit from the introduction of electricity. The generating station was located on the far side of the harbour where the public toilets are now situated (see image above). The generator was powered by burning imported coal.
The arrival of electric power was the cause of much celebration and if you look closely at the mast beyond the cider press you will find a toast list for a banquet held to celebrate the event in 1896. Look for the fifth toast to ‘Our town, its industries and its possibilities.’
Even in 1900, electric lighting was still in its infancy. Gas lighting was common in the cities and towns, supplemented by candles and oil lamps, but in villages and in the countryside lighting remained almost exclusively by candles and oil lamps. It was not until after the First World War that electric lighting finally emerged as the predominant source of light in the home.