A house in Camborne has revealed a rich vein of secrets from its mining past and the owner suspects it may even be haunted.
Cafe owner Rupert Ellis bought the 19th century terraced house in Basset Street a few years ago and, over time, has uncovered a wealth of hidden secrets, including an art deco fire place and the original floor tiles.
When he moved in, Rupert was unaware that the house – which was built by the Basset family around 1832 – was the former head office of the Tehidy Minerals Company.
It was only when a local builder who had worked on the house in the 1980s asked, "Have you found the strongroom yet?" that he began to investigate in earnest.
Rupert Ellis said, "I spent a good couple of weeks tapping walls, drilling little holes in walls to find out if there were any cavities and they managed to give an indication that it was going to be in that room.
"The first test hole that I did went straight down on the badge of the safe which is T Withers and Sons in Bilston.
"It took me about two weeks to take down the cement wall and the plaster and the bricks. The more I uncovered, the larger it got."
Rupert had discovered the door to a walk-in vault that probably would have held mine maps, miners' wages and even ore at the height of Camborne's mining history.
The infill on the sides of the safe contains big nuggets of turquoise copper, which probably means mine waste was used in the building of the house.
Rupert has only uncovered part of the vault and believes there could be more to it behind the plaster.
Rupert has done some research into the history of the house in Basset Street.
He said, “Talking to several local people, who include the great-grandson of the mine captain who lived and worked here, I’ve discovered a wealth of historical information about the house and contents hidden for a generation."
Rupert’s bedroom was once the boardroom, seating 20 staff around a large oak table, while the original tiles in the hall were buried under modern laminate flooring.
He is continuing to renovate the property and believes other houses in the area could also reveal hidden gems of Cornwall's mining history.
He said, "I think there's a lot of really interesting architecture in Camborne that's shut away, buried, locked in walls, forgotten, derelict...
"Actually it's also those forgotten histories of the houses, the buildings and the people that's a really interesting part because it's a living breathing community."
Rupert Ellis is compiling a history of the house, to be passed on to future owners, so that its heritage will never be forgotten again.
He also suspects that there may be more to its history than meets the eye.
He said “It’s a little bit nuts but I do have a suspicion the house is haunted. There have been a lot of coincidences in this house and things that have happened. I get a distinct feeling that I was chosen for this house, rather than me choosing the house.
“When I first moved in there was all manner of banging going on. I do get woken up at a certain time each night as well.
"A friend stayed here who claimed to hear footsteps. There have been some unexplainable scenarios.
“It’s not something I’m scared of – I feel like I’m joining in with the party!”