Land: Why the Old Bus Depot?

West Kitty Cottage circa 1920

The forge, fire station, and coach house

In the late 19th century my Great Great Grandfather returned from a cross atlantic adventure. An explosives engineer and miner, he and his brother went to seek their fortunes. Like many Cornish folk. The demand and rewards working across the Atlantic were high. He achieved reasonable success and returned to Cornwall a wealthy man.

Inside the ole forge

On returning, he invested his money buying part of West Kitty mine when it ceased mining. The investment came with a number of properties including a large 2.5 storey forge and the mine’s account house. The forge was used to service and repair mining tools and equipment.

West Kitty Cottage and Nan

The above picture shows my Nan sat outside of the former account house, with a lean-to and the corner of the forge’s roof just visible. My Nan’s father (my Great Grandfather) used the lean-to as his workshop and the forge to found the local bus company: Harper & Kellow. Hence ‘the old bus depot’. Technically it was a coach house as my Great Grandfather ran coaches (including the coach below). However, most people associated horses with coaches, and a coach house is a different concept again. So ‘The Old Bus Depot’ it is……

One of the original Harper and Kellow coaches awaiting restoration....
One of the original Harper & Kellow coaches awaiting restoration

The Old Bus Depot enjoyed a varied life and even became the local fire station during the second world war. Not ideal given it housed several coaches and turning up the drive required a lot of skill! My Grandfather eventually sold Harper & Kellow, and in 1970 the forge was demolished.

The land & the gift

With all of the members of our family that matter in unanimous support we were ‘given’ the land. Sadly this wasn’t quite the gift we dreamt of and 4 years of significant stress followed. Suffice to say we’ve seen the effects a poor and a very good solicitor can have. Many friends and family members (and myself sometimes) questioned my sanity in pursuing what they concluded to be a lost cause. However, this was my dream: To build on land that’s been in our family over 100 years and hopefully see other generations of our family use the land for at least another 100. It’s not something I could give up lightly. We were fortunate to have other options but this was / is the dream.

The land

The process took its tole as the bills quickly ran into thousands and beyond. Significantly more than the value of the land without planning. We were painfully aware it was all at risk. At risk because the land transfer might never happen, despite the mounting bills, and at risk because even if the land transfer went through we might not get planning. There were a lot of low points with this hanging over us for 4 years. My Nan even said at one of the lowest point ‘Don’t let them win’. We owe a lot to our friends and (most of our) family for their support. We also owe a lot of thanks to Tim Atkins from Stephens Scown Solicitors. Another recommendation from our builder, Rich. I’m pretty sure Tim questioned my sanity but with his help in February 2014 we finally owned the land! With a new found faith in solicitors. A good one is worth their weight in gold!

Ground works beginning

Because of the risks stated above we held off writing this blog until we had planning…. more on that to come next post…

**Updates/Corrections**

  • Thanks to Stu for the grammar corrections and pointers 😀
  • The first picture includes three Cornish Miners. The middle one is my Great Grand Father.
  • The picture of the girl outside of West Kitty is actually my Nan’s Mum. Thanks to cousin Peter (who used to get the buses to school) and my Mum for this spot.

My Dad loves family history. As a surprise for my Nan and Mum he had the below commissioned by a local artist. The same bus in its Harper & Kellow colours, looking slightly more road worthy. Featuring Mum as one of the children.

Harper and Kellow Painting

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One thought on “Land: Why the Old Bus Depot?

  1. You wait ages for a blog and then two come along together…. 🙂 (sorry the pun on buses was too much to resist).

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