Water and Stone is a new event in Helston’s calendar, organised by CAST in association with Helston Makes It!

The programme sets out to examine the geological sources of Helston’s exceptionally fine granite buildings and pavements and the relationship between geology and industry that is evident in the town’s network of kennels and opes – all features that contribute to its unique sense of place.

The programme starts on Friday 24 September with workshops for schools led by sculptor Stéphane Rouget and stonemason Jamie Pharoah, both of whom work at Trenoweth Dimensional Granite Quarry near Falmouth.

On Friday evening urban geologist Dr Ruth Siddall of University College London will give a keynote lecture providing an overview of Cornish granite, where it’s gone in the world and what it has been used for. CAST Café supper from 6pm, booking essential.

Throughout the day on Saturday 25 September Jamie Pharoah will be working granite in the Helston Town Band building on Church Street. All are welcome to drop in and see him at work between 10.30am and 4pm.

At 10.30am on Saturday morning Dr Ruth Siddall and sculptor and granite enthusiast Dr David Paton will lead a guided walk exploring Helston’s heritage of fine stone buildings and pavements. In the afternoon, from 2.30 to 6pm, there will be a series of talks by Dr David Paton, geologist Dr Beth Simons, who specialises in Cornish granite, architectural conservation expert Nick Collins, who contributed to the Conservation Area Appraisal of Helston completed by Alan Baxter & Associates in 2010, and artist Richard Wentworth.

At 10.30am on Sunday 26 September there will be a walk from Helston up the Cober valley to Trannack Quarry, with David Paton and local historian Peter Benbow. Meanwhile, at CAST, Dr Ruth Siddall will lead a workshop on geological pigments.

Tickets for Ruth Siddall’s keynote talk, Stories of Cornish Granite, preceded by a two course CAST Café supper, and for the Saturday programme of talks, with a lunch of freshly baked bread, soup and a delicious dessert, can be purchased via Eventbrite – £16 for one or £27 for both (including meals, as above).

To reserve a place for a walk or talk without meals please email [email protected]

Jude Carroll of Helston Makes It! has prepared a town trail quiz looking at some of Helston’s best stone buildings. Download a copy here.

Water and Stone is supported by FEAST, Helston Town Council, Cornwall Heritage Trust and The Curry Fund.

The project is also supported by Cornwall Council’s Community Chest small grants scheme, with individual grants from Councillors Guy Foreman (Helston South & Meneage) and Mike Thomas (Helston North).


Dr Ruth Siddall is a geologist specialising in the study of minerals and rocks used in cultural heritage. She has worked extensively on the characterisation and analysis of artists’ pigments, ceramics and building materials, including mortars, bricks and stone. She is a co-author of The Pigment Compendium and is actively engaged in earth science-related outreach. She is currently collaborating in research studying materiality with colleagues at UCL Slade School of Fine Art. She regularly leads guided walks unveiling the geological sources of London’s built heritage. www.ucl.ac.uk

Dr David Paton is Lecturer for BA Drawing and BA Fine Art at Falmouth University, an artist-researcher and a craftsperson specialising in Cornish granite. He has been a practising artist and stone sculptor since 1997, and for many years worked extensively on public art projects. 

Soon after moving to Cornwall in 2005 David started working with Trenoweth Dimensional Granite Quarry near Falmouth, where his deep affinity for the material and people led him to start a PhD titled The Quarry as Sculpture: The Place of Making (2015). His doctoral project was the first practice-based PhD in the UK in Cultural Geography. Since 2016 David has been involved with the National Trust, where he has worked on AHRC-funded research on communicating conservation practices. In 2017 David participated in the Valley of the Saints project based in Brittany, and in May 2018 sailed his five-tonne granite carving of St Piran from Falmouth to Paimpol, after which it was installed as the 100th saint on the parkland site. At the same time, he was developing his research and explorations of granite through a project called Tracing Granite commissioned by CAST for Groundwork (2016-18). This resulted in an extensive field-trip project, original documentary film and new writing: groundwork.art/tracing-granite 

David has his own workspace at Trenoweth Quarry, from where he regularly runs student, graduate and public engagement programmes.

Dr Beth Simons is a Cornish geologist with a PhD and a number of publications on the mineralogical and geochemical variation of granites in southwest England, including the relevance for extraction of critical metals for the low carbon economy, such as lithium. Since 2017 she has worked for INGOs and a UN agency in humanitarian shelter response to disasters and conflict, with a recent focus on supporting local building cultures. She collaborated with David Paton on the Tracing Granite project commissioned for the Groundwork programme (2016-18) and compiled the Geological Glossary published on the Groundwork website: groundwork.art/tracing-granite

In her spare time, she runs a South West England geology website: variscancoast.co.uk

Nick Collins BSc (Hons) MSc MRICS IHBC has twenty years experience in the property sector, including as a Director of the Conservation Team at integrated design consultants, Alan Baxter & Associates. Nick spent nine years at English Heritage as Principal Inspector of Historic Buildings and Areas where he led a team of historic building inspectors, architects and archaeologists on a wide range of heritage projects in East and South London. This experience has given Nick an in-depth understanding of the property industry, listed building and planning process, heritage policy and guidance and funding bodies.

Nick contributed to the Conservation Area Appraisal of Helston completed by Alan Baxter & Associates in 2010: map.cornwall.gov.uk/reports_conservation_areas/Helston


Friday 24 September 2021 – Sunday 26 September 2021 Talks, Walks and Demonstrations
Friday 6-9pm
Saturday 10.30am-6pm
Sunday 10.30am-1pm

Booking essential

Eventbrite tickets for
talks and food £27
(see link in text)

Places for the walks or talks (without food) can be reserved by emailing [email protected]