With reference to the article in The Cornishman, 12.03.15, concerning the theft of monies from four charities.

One of those charities is Morrab Library, Morrab Gardens, Penzance – an independent subscription library, one of only 45 in the UK.

The Cornishman reported that our Honorary Treasurer had stolen £17,900 from Morrab Library – the only comment referring to the Library in the account of the hearing at Truro Crown Court, which took place on Friday 6th March 2015.

The Management Committee of Morrab Library would like its members, which number nearly 600, and the general public to know that we have received a cheque from Barclays Bank to the value of £62,049.32, refunded to our account, to its original position prior to the confirmed fraud, with their sincere apologies on September 10th 2014.

The Management Committee worked very closely with the Devon and Cornwall Economic Crime Unit (ECU) from October 2013 until the end of 2014, with their investigation of our Honorary Treasurer, who was elected to this position in March 2005 and dismissed in 2013. He was, as reported, sentenced to two years imprisonment, suspended for two years, after pleading guilty to eight charges. A financial investigation will now be carried out and he will face a Confiscation Order under the Proceeds of Crime Act, to try to recoup some of the money stolen.

From the Library’s point of view we are disappointed and upset at the sentence as we consider this a gross betrayal of trust by the Honorary Treasurer – a volunteer to the Library and its Management Committee, who are all volunteers. This Library has been in existence since the early 1800s and depends on volunteers – from Management to the daily work in the Library, ranging from desk work, fund-raising, meeting and greeting members, private research queries and working in the Photographic Archive.

Having made ourselves as financially stable as possible, with new security measures in place, plus support from the Myner and Tanner Trusts, we feel that the Library can now only progress into the future. We have received many personal donations, mostly anonymous, over the past few months.

We have some 55,000 books, both fiction and non-fiction, most of which can be borrowed by members, and we offer a day rate for non-members to come and use the Library. Our Photo Archive Room, newly built and with new digital equipment, has made us one of the most sophisticated photographic archival units in the county. We are in the process of re-cataloguing and digitally scanning all of the 14,000 images in our collection with our present long term team of volunteers but also with seven new volunteers being trained. Our new Art Room, with a fine and varied number of books, is also proving very popular.

We also have a Newspaper Archive Room holding early newspaper copies, including The Cornishman and West Briton dating from 1815, in our basement archive.

The Borlase, Tremenheere and Dawson archives, containing 13 portfolios of Napoleonic prints, are also available for research.

Our membership fee is £25 per annum but we do offer Life and Group membership and daily fees for visitors – details available by contacting Annabelle Read at the Library in person, or by phone 01736 364474. We welcome new members and we offer research facilities, quiet reading areas, friendship and support. Each winter and spring a programme of lectures is organised, free for members and the public, on a monthly basis. Why not become a member and join us for our annual Summer Fete on Mazey Day, 27th June 2015. We look forward to hearing from you.


Mary Ellery

Chairman of the Morrab Library Management Committee