Special guest speaker next (April) meeting!

The Broken Hill Historical Society presents: ‘The Cornish in Broken Hill, then and now’.

Who’s the special guest speaker? This is Robynne Sanderson, local historian and former Broken Hill Citizen of the year.

As the city’s Heritage Festival weekend approaches (14-–18 April), the next meeting of the Broken Hill Historical Society on April 11 will highlight Broken Hill’s Cornish heritage and culture through a presentation by Robynne. She is a local historian and researcher who has Cornish forebears. Robynne will be speaking on the Cornish heritage in Broken Hill’s past and present.

The Cornish were a significant cultural group in the early days of Broken Hill and part of the multicultural tapestry that has continued to enrich this city. They are strongly connected with Broken Hill’s mining heritage, but have contributed to the life of Broken Hill in many other ways.

Robynne’s talk will look at the mining connection, as well as at a cross-section of Cornish people and culture—from streets named after Cornish people to some of the more quirky aspects, such as Cornish wrestling. Robynne herself has worked in the past in the mining industry as a computer programmer at the Zinc Corporation.

Robynne presented a paper about Cornish musicians of Broken Hill at the Biennial History Seminar of the ‘Kernewek Lowender’ Cornish Festival in 2017. She is also a member of the Cornish Association of South Australia. (More about the Kernewek Lowender festivals here.) She has visited Cornwall a number of times.

Robynne on her last trip to Cornwall

In 2021 she received an international award, the Paul Smales Medal from the Gorsedh Kernow. The medal is awarded specifically for promoting Cornish culture outside Cornwall. (Find more about the Gorsedh Kernow, set up promote the identity of their Celtic nation, here.)

Robynne with her Medal and Certificate of Recognition
from the Gorsedh Kernow

Having started last year learning Cornish, a Celtic language, Robynne will begin her presentation with some words in Cornish to acknowledge the Indigenous heritage of this region. This is likely to be the first time ever that an Acknowledgement of Country will be spoken in Cornish in Australia, even though a written Acknowledgement of Country has been included in the program at Celtic festivals such as Kernewek Lowender in the Moonta, South Australia region.

Do you have Cornish ancestors, or one of the many Cornish surnames?

Come along to the Society’s next General Meeting on 11 April, at 7.30 pm to learn more about Broken Hill’s Cornish heritage. The meeting will be held in the Centre for Community in Beryl Street, opposite Aruma Lodge.

Visitors to the Hill, whether passing through for Easter, Heritage Weekend, School Holidays or the Mundi Mundi Bash are very welcome. To help you find the Society’s meeting, look for the mural on the front wall of the Community Centre!

More on Robynne’s knowledge of the Hill’s Cornish heritage, and Robynne herself, below.

Cornish surnames

You can check your surname against the following list provided by Robynne:

Robynne cautions, though:

Not every person with these family names is necessarily Cornish —for example, James, Johns, Williams and Thomas can also be English names.  Some of the names are Anglicised versions of Cornish names.  For example, Brokenshire is thought to have derived from bro-kensa,

More about Robynne

Robynne moved on from working as a computer programmer at the Zinc Corporation to becoming a teacher of Information Technology at TAFE. 

She has several musical interests (Covid-permitting!) including being a church organist, playing clarinet in the Broken Hill Civic Orchestra, and singing in Broken Hill Community Voices choir, of which she is Musical Director.

Robynne’s interests in local history include not only the Broken Hill Mosque Museum and the local cameleers, but also writing a history of Saint James Anglican Church for their centenary in 1990.

Robynne with Merv Davy, Grand Bard of the Cornish Gorsedh Kernow until end 2018

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