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.