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Uncovering forgotten Cornwall Helston links with South Australia city Port Augusta

By WBGraeme  |  Posted: March 21, 2014

  • The Helston deputy mayoral insignia

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THE next mayor of Helston is hoping he can uncover the town’s forgotten links with a city in South Australia.

For the past two years, Councillor Mike Thomas has been deputy mayor and has worn the position’s mayoral insignia.

On the back is an inscription dedicated to a twin town visit to Port Augusta, a city 200 miles north of Adelaide.

It reads: “Added by the Council to Helston Borough Insignia on the Civic visit of Councillor & Mrs A E Lee (Deputy Mayor & Mayoress) to the ‘Twin Town’ of Port Augusta a City of South Australia in 1965.”

Helston has strong links with its twin town in Italy but little to do with Port Augusta.

Mr Thomas has now embarked on a project to find out about the visit and has fired off e-mails to the city council Down Under.

He said: “The deputy mayor’s medallion is something that has a lot of history to it and I am keen to find out more.

“I’ve made some progress. I’ve made contact with the archivist in Port Augusta and they are looking into the visit.

“What would be wonderful is to find out more information. I am interested in why they went to Australia and if Helston has any links.”

He said he would also be speaking to the museum and people in Helston who remember the visit.

Councillor Lee, whose photograph is on the wall of Helston Guildhall, worked in Meneage Street and lived in Falmouth Road. The then Helston Borough Council also included Porthleven.

Today, Helston is twinned with the Italian town of Sasso Marconi, named after radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi. He was actually from nearby Bologna and is linked by his famous transatlantic radio broadcast to Poldhu Cove.

Mr Thomas will take up the position of mayor in May and will then hand over the deputy insignia to Councillor Mark Upton.

At the last council meeting, Mr Thomas argued successfully for a change in the rules so the deputy mayor could wear the insignia at events where the mayor was present.

Previously, by tradition but for reasons now forgotten, the deputy was forbidden from wearing his insignia alongside that of the mayor.

Mr Thomas said people often wondered who he was at events and it would have been helpful to wear his insignia. The councillors agreed to amend their rules.

Port Augusta versus Helston:

Port Augusta, South Australia

Population: 14,000

Founded: 1852

Described as a gateway to the Flinders Ranges, the outback and Spencer Gulf.

Attractions include:

Wadlata Outback Centre, which has 100,000 visitors a year to learn about history and nearby Flinders Ranges which includes some of the earliest fossilised life in the world. The Pichi Richi Railway is a volunteer-run steam and diesel heritage railway which runs 24 miles to the town of Quorn.

Helston, Cornwall

Population: 10,000

Town charter granted to previous village in 1201.

Famous for historic Furry Dance and Flora Day and is the most southerly town on mainland Britain. Garrison town for one of Europe’s largest naval air and helicopter bases.

Attractions include: Museum, Coronation Park and Boating Lake and Penrose Estate and also Helston Railway, a volunteer-run heritage railway of 1.5 miles.

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