Archive Open Day February 2016

Posted in Newlyn Archive Events

418 Roger Clemence27 10 2004

The picture above shows high tide at Newlyn Harbour's North Pier, October 27 2004. Courtesy of Roger Clemence.

The first Newlyn Archive Open Day of 2016 on Saturday February 13, 2016 10-3.00 at Trinity Centre reminds us that there were many great storms in the past that certainly equalled the recent one of 2015. Here are two examples of many that we share at the Open Day.

The great storm of October 1880 flooded Newlyn and wrecked the fishing boats moored there, sending them to the bottom, stranding them on the shore, or wrecking them on the rocks. Even more tragically, it resulted in the loss of the Mousehole fishing boat PZ 26 Jane, a 2nd class lugger which went down just outside Penzance harbour. The crew of six men and a boy were drowned in full sight of their wives and children. The rocket apparatus was on the pier but the storm was too ferocious for it to be used. As with all disasters some good accrued later and the 1880 storm was a powerful argument in getting approval for the building of a South Pier at Newlyn; it was also key in leading to the construction of the new road on the Western Green, between Wherrytown and Newlyn.

There were many serious storms that followed. One storm was called the Blizzard in the West. Cornishman reporter Douglas Williams contributed the following account to the records of the storm that were collected and published a month after the blizzard.

'It was on Monday March 9, back in 1891 that the giant blizzard struck the county. The fine weather of the past weeks suddenly ended, the temperature dropped quickly, and snow began to fall as the wind increased in strength. There was tremendous damage to property in the next few days, trains were de-railed, many ships wrecked around the Cornish coast, and throughout the county there were stories of lives lost in snowdrifts...

On the railways in Cornwall and Devon some passengers were snowed up in a train for 36 hours... During this week the takings on the Great Western showed a drop of £12,980... A train that left Penzance at 6.25 pm that night arrived at Plymouth at 3 pm next day. There was a drift of snow 20 ft high at Grampound... When a gang of men arrived to clear the track the cold was so intense that the snow froze on the men's clothes, practically encasing them in ice...

Much of the damage on land could be repaired: at sea there was a different tale. During this week there were wrecks from Start Point to Falmouth resulting in the loss of over 50 lives. At Penare Point, near Helford River, the 2,282 tons Bay of Panama went aground. The captain, his wife, all but one of the six officers, four apprentices and six of the crew, were either frozen to death in the rigging or drowned... There was a serious collision, resulting in the loss of 22 lives, about 140 miles SW of the Isles of Scilly. Only two were saved of the crew of the Roxburgh Castle 'although their piteous cries for help were plainly heard on the British Peer.'

A hawker of wild flowers, Ambrose Matthews was found dead under three feet of snow at Newquay... One woman... found buried in the snow... had mistaken the gate of the field... for that of her own home, and entering the field had fallen exhausted... her basket with the provisions she had bought in the town was found lying beside her. Mining operations in the Camborne-Redruth area were interrupted. A boy named Wallace left his work at one local mine on the afternoon of the storm to walk to his home. Ten days afterwards his body was found in a snow-drift some 30-40 yards from his home.

The Archive Exhibition touches on most of the great storms that have hit Newlyn from the 1880 and 1891 storms to the Great Ash Wednesday Storm 1962, and other subsequent storms ending with the recent events of 2015.

Also contributing to the Exhibition will be the Mousehole Archive and the Lamorna Society Archive.

Let us hope all the storms on Saturday February 13, 2016 will be inside the main hall at Trinity Centre!

Do download the poster.

Click on the PDF file below and save it to your computer.

pdfPoster.pdf19/01/2016, 20:24







Where the Artists Lived in Newlyn and Lamorna, 2-3 October 2015

Posted in Newlyn Archive Events


The ink and watercolour sketch of fisherman William Henry Tonkin by an unknown artist shows him sitting on the window seat at his cottage at Gwavas Terrace reading a paper. He looks very comfortable. The Tonkins cottage would have had a good fire and William would have had his bit of 'bacca' each week and a nice comfortable chair to rest on. This was an important respite to compensate for his long periods at sea.

The Tonkins' cottage was rather larger than the other cottages in the Terrace, and as William and his wife Annie were childless, there was room for lodgers. It was one of the first cottages to attract artists, despite there being no running water, sanitation that relied on the night soil cart, and light from a paraffin lamp or candles.

Caroline Burland Yates first stayed there in 1879, and when she married Thomas Cooper Gotch, it was the Gotches main lodging house up until 1887 when they rented the Malt House. Stanhope Forbes stayed there when he first came to Newlyn in 1884. Walter Langley painted at least three pictures in its linhay.

This is one of a number of houses in Newlyn and Lamorna that are explored in the next Newlyn Archive Open Day 'Where the Artists Lived in Newlyn and Lamorna'. The Open Day is at Trinity Centre, Newlyn on Friday 2/10/2015, 2pm-7pm and Saturday 3/10/2015, 10am-3pm. It focuses on the early artist colony and their houses, their landlords and the folk whom they painted, which is now part of art history.

Do download the poster

pdfNewlyn_All.pdf15/09/2015, 10:25




When the Quarry Guns Sounded July 18 2015

Posted in Newlyn Archive Events

5441 Website

We have called the next Newlyn Archive Open Day on Saturday 18 July 2015, 10am-3.00pm in the Main Hall, Trinity Centre, Chywoone Hill, 'When the Quarry Guns Sounded'. Local people remember the 'Quarry Guns' at I2 noon and 4.30pm signalling that blasting was about to begin at Penlee Quarry. The people on Skilly beach made a run to the shelter when the siren sounded and often saw stones fall into the sea.

Known originally as Gwavas Quarry, the quarry was opened in 1882 by James Runnalls (1837-1895) from Penzance and some of its stone would have been used for the new road from Tolcarne to Penzance for which Runnalls had the contract.

The photograph above was taken almost a hundred years later, on September 22, 1993 when Gerald Williams set out to record the final demolition of the old quarry buildings. The photo shows the end of one of the huge reinforced concrete silos, as the heavy hydraulic breaker smashes it to pieces.

In its day Penlee Quarry was a huge successful enterprise. Once the locomotive 'Penlee', known as 'Janner's Engine' after her driver J Maddern (who wore a bowler hat to work) pulled the huge containers full of stone from the Quarry to the South Pier where it was loaded into stone boats that had fancy bird names like SS Stork, SS Albatross and SS Guillemot or were part of the fleet of ships whose name ended in 'brook' like Londonbrook or Leicesterbrook or Caernarvonbrook.

In the 1960s, when the ships were loaded by the diesel locos that had taken over from Janner's engine, six locomotives were needed for operations, four higher powered ones on the main line and two lower powered ones shunting the empty tipper wagons through the two loading points. At this time the locos were named after people like TW Lewis and JW Jenkin shown in the poster.

In 1973, the railway ceased operations and was replaced by a belt conveyor system using the same route. Operations at the quarry then slowed throughout the late 1970s and the 1980s. By 1989 Penlee Quarry had closed down but the derelict buildings remained and although there was a petition to have the buildings along the Newlyn-Mousehole road removed, this did not happen until 1993.

If you would like to explore what the archive holds about Penlee Quarry you should click on Archive Catalogue, then on Places. You can download the PDF file on Places by opening the PDF file and saving it on your computer. Information about Penlee Quarry is at the end of the list in pages 55-60.

If you want to download the poster for the Open Day, click on the PDF file below and when it opens either save it or print it.

pdfNewlyn_Poster.pdf11/07/2015, 14:31


Farming, the Forgotten Trade, 11/4/2015

Posted in Newlyn Archive Events


The next Newlyn Archive Open Day 'Farming, the Forgotten Trade' is on Saturday April 11 2015 at Trinity Centre from 10.00-3.00. The display boards tell the story of farming at Newlyn. It is difficult to imagine that farming was once as important as fishing. In long past days, cattle made their way from Farmer's Meadow, through School Lane and the Fradgan and down the old slipway to the shore where there was enough grass for them to graze. Those with knowledge of the Cornish language will know that Fradgan means 'ox road' and Street-an-Nowan means 'street of the oxen'.

Perhaps less well known is that the early artists who came to Newlyn whose paintings of fishermen and luggers are so well known also painted the countryside and the farms around. By the time they arrived, Newlyn was already more important for its fishing although when Stanhope Forbes arrived, the Curnow family who lived at Orchard House in the Fradgan owned orchards that stretched from the Fradgan to the Norrad Slip. In fact market
gardening was a feature of Newlyn, particularly in the Coombe and out the Green, into the twentieth century.

The picture above, of Boleigh farm, was painted by John Lamorna Birch who came to live at Boleigh Farm in 1892, lodging with farmer Henry Tippett and his wife Emmeline. Henry Tippett, then aged 53 farmed about 60 acres, relying mainly on dairying but with a few pigs and some flowers and early potatoes. Austin Wormleigton, in his biography of Birch (A Painter Laureate) describes Birch's room immediately under a moss-covered thatch, with a window opening directly onto the farmyard and the bridle path connecting the yard to the fields. Birch's presence at Boleigh meant that other painters visited. He tells us that Elizabeth Stanhope Forbes was a regular caller, and enjoyed especially the snugness of the kitchen and the opportunity in winter time to warm her mittened hands around a bowl of Mrs Tippett's broth. Elizabeth Forbes always referred to the Boleigh kitchen as 'the parlour', where the Cornish slab or cooking range placed it at the heart of family life.

pdfPoster_2015.pdf30/03/2015, 17:48


Archive Open Day February 7 2015

Posted in Newlyn Archive Events


This is the earliest photograph of a wedding in the Newlyn Archive. It shows Joseph Carter and Harriet Badcock on their wedding day in 1871. Harriet's mother was one of the three sisters whose husbands, brother and cousin had formed the major part of the crew that sailed the PE 322 Mystery to Australia in 1854. It is not surprising that Harriet married Cap'n Joe Carter, a yacht captain. The family lived at Clifton Villa in Buccas Pass at the bottom of what was then called Paul Hill. So it is most appropriate that their picture should advertise the next Archive Open Day at Trinity Centre, Chywoone Hill which is a stone's throw from Clifton Villa.

The Open Day, Love and Marriage in a Fishing Village, is on Saturday 7 February 2015, 10am-3.30 pm in the Main Hall at Trinity Centre. It focuses on a number of 'Newlyn' weddings, showing marriage certificates and telling the stories of the families concerned. 'Love' must be inferred from these photos but it is blazoned to the world in the naming of fishing boats like 'Village Bride', 'Ben-my-Chree' (woman my love), 'Karenza' (my love) and 'True Love'. Many fishing boats were named after wives, sons and daughters and although the archive has photos and details of these boats we do not know the stories associated with the naming of the fishing boats so please share them with us. There will be experts on hand to help you explore your own family history but do make a place in history for your parents and grandparents by letting us copy your photos and marriage, birth and death certificates. You can download the poster for the Open Day by clicking on the PDF file below but do try and come along.

pdfPoster_2015.02.pdf28/01/2015, 11:07