The Bear in Mine’d teddy bear museum is a project that began as a childhood dream, and has grown into something that can be shared with everyone.
Victoria Edwards has been collecting teddy bears her whole life, as cuddly toys, books, mugs, ornaments, pictures and more. There is everything in the collection from slippers to clocks!
Age 8, Victoria inherited Great Pooh, a 6ft tall teddy bear from her grandmother, Bunty Warrell, who, with her husband Bob, had a shop, ‘Ganges Galleries’, in Falmouth from the 1960s to 1979. Great Pooh was delivered as a gift from a wealthy holiday-maker, and stood in the shop’s doorway, greeting everyone who passed by. You can read all about him in the museum, and here.
Victoria had nowhere to display him, but she and her Dad, Stephen Maughan Warrell, dreamed of one day opening a teddy bear museum, with Great Pooh as the star. She promised Great Pooh that one day he would see the public again!
During the last decade, Victoria has gained qualifications in psychology, working therapeutically with art (like her fellow director Charlotte Webb), music therapy, and is a registered psychotherapist. She began to think of using her collection of teddy bears to bring comfort and joy to others in the way that they had for her.
In 2020, as the world descended into the COVID-19 pandemic, Victoria began to plan, creating a teddy bear museum that was also a therapeutic escape in a difficult time. Together with Charlotte and Hazel, they registered TheraTeds (SMW) CIC, a non-profit social enterprise, to work with and for the local community. It is named in honour of Victoria’s Dad, who sadly passed away before it could become reality, and the Bear In Mine’d museum serves as his memorial, and also for other dads who are missed.
There has been a lot of support, from individuals and organisations, along the way from a dream to an actual museum. Find out more about ‘Friends of Bear in Mine’d’ here.
Why ‘Bear in Mine’d’?
There are a number of reasons for the name of this museum – firstly, some kind of name including both teddy bears and a reference to the mine which houses the museum seemed necessary.
We wanted a name that wasn’t too cutesy, or hard to remember, or would put people off visiting.
And Victoria’s Dad loved puns, and would have been heartily amused to have the museum called something that played on ‘bear in mind’ to reference the peace and tranquillity that we hope to create here, and the mine itself. If you don’t like puns, we do apologise!!
We know most people will call use ‘the teddy bear museum’, or ‘Gwythty Orsek Teddy, in Cornish, and we really don’t mind.
Cornish on the display boards
You will notice, when you visit the museum, that the display boards are in Cornish as well as English.
Languages are very important as they express individuality and community. The Cornish language (like other regional languages) was banned by King Henry VIII, at the time he created the ‘Church of England’, to cement the uniformity he was trying to establish. However, the Cornish people were proud and defiant, and although the language was only spoken in the rural areas, it never died out (despite previous claims). There has been a quiet revolution in recent years to bring the language back ‘out’ of the shadows and one of the groups trying to do this is ‘Agan Tavas’ (which means ‘our language’).
Victoria, a fan of languages as well as bears, wanted to respect the people who worked and lived on the land when Cornish was widely spoken, so approached her Cornish teacher Clive Baker. Clive translated the information boards in traditional Cornish, Ray Chubb proofread them, and Agan Tavas very kindly donated the money to pay for them.
The King Edward Mine
The King Edward Mine is at the Eastern end of the South Condurrow Mine. It was reopened in 1844, and continued to be mined until 1896. In 1897 the Camborne School of Mines took over this part of the South Condurrow Mine as a teaching mine, and renamed it the King Edward Mine in 1901, in honour of the new king. The mine was re-equipped at that time with ‘state of the art’ machinery, and most of the buildings on the site date from this era.
Most of the teaching operations of the mine moved to the main School of Mines building next to Cornwall College in Pool, in 1974, and the Camborne School of Mines itself moved to Penryn in 2004.
Since 1987, a volunteer group has been working to restore and conserve the site, as an educational resource, and the site is now owned by Cornwall Council. You can read more about the Mine, an on the KEM website.
The Croust Hut
The Croust Hut is the café on the site of the King Edward Mine. It lives in the old Assay House, which was restored from 2015, and opened in 2017. They serve delicious locally-produced food, including hot drinks, cakes and meals, throughout the year.