The Archive

This old etching of Lamorna Cove Granite Quarries, is dated February 4 1859. Can you get someone to name the buildings. Is the building in foreground the old coastguard’s lookout? Original donated by George Hoare.
This old etching of Lamorna Cove Granite Quarries, is dated February 4 1859. Can you get someone to name the buildings. Is the building in foreground the old coastguard’s lookout? Original donated by George Hoare.


The Lamorna Archive:

The Lamorna Archive was set up when the Society was formed in 1997 by Sheila Hale, who was the first archivist. The second archivist Pam Lomax was responsible for its expansion and the creation of the existing catalogue. The archive contains material about the history of the Lamorna Valley, its river and quay, and the history of the people (including artists, writers and visitors) who have lived there. It also documents the history of the Lamorna Society and its members and activities.



The Lamorna Society holds its annual general meeting in the autumn each year at Lamorna when there is a 2-3 day programme of events that always includes an occasion for celebration. The cake (and a glass of champagne) celebrated the third anniversary
The Lamorna Society holds its annual general meeting in the autumn each year at Lamorna when there is a 2-3 day programme of events that always includes an occasion for celebration. The cake (and a glass of champagne) celebrated the third anniversary


Three Archives: Lamorna Archive, Newlyn Archive, Art Archive

The Lamorna Archive was amalgamated with the Newlyn Archive in 2014. The latter was set up in 2010 and contains material about the history of Newlyn and its people, particularly its relationships with the sea and fishing. At the end of 2012 the Newlyn Archive acquired the West Cornwall Art Archive, a huge collection of material about aspects of West Cornwall’s Art History, past and present. This led to the creation of a separate Art Catalogue to include the new acquisitions alongside existing material held in the Newlyn Archive about Newlyn Artists and in the Lamorna Archive about Lamorna Artists. The Art Archive contains material about the old Newlyn and Lamorna colonies of artists and about more recent artists.


Visit the Newlyn Archive Website to download the Art Archive Catalogue.




The last Newlyn Archive Open Day this Year is 'Newlyn in Uniform'. It will be held at Trinity Centre, Newlyn on Saturday October 21, 2017 from 10-3.00.

The photo shows Cynthia 'Mary' Llewellyn and Albert 'John' David Llewellyn in Girl Guides & Boys Brigade uniforms, c1944. There was a 1st Newlyn Guides and Brownie Group in 1938 and we have a photograph taken in front of the old school house but little else. Perhaps some of the people named in the photograph could come to the Open Day and supply more information about the Girl Guides at Newlyn?

Some of the artists of the early Newlyn colony were responsible for starting a scout group in Newlyn in 1910, only three years after Baden Powell had his first experimental camp for boys in 1907. Prominent artists like Thomas Cooper Gotch, Reginald Dick and John Mackenzie started the group to help local boys, many of whom were also involved with the Newlyn Industrial classes. The group occupied several headquarters, moving to Gwavas Studios in 1911. The group may have disbanded because of the war but in 1929 Benjamin Maddern founded a scout troop (nicknamed Uncle Ben's Cowboys) which was still in operation in the 1940s and 1950s. In 1957, a new Scout Hut was built at North Corner, on the edge of the old Meadow, where the artists had once built their glass-houses, and there is still a plaque outside the now dilapidated building.

As well as boy scouts and rover scouts, Newlyn also had its sea scouts and sea cadets. Before the second world war, Newlyn Sea Scouts and their gig Trelawney (often moored below the Norrad Slip) were a frequent site in Newlyn Harbour. After the war, TS Grenville sea cadets might be seen marching through the village on important occasions or participating in Newlyn Swimming Club events.

We have fewer images of women in uniform than men in uniform in the Newlyn Archive but there are many stories and images of the old Fishwives of Newlyn who wore a traditional dress.

We also have Newlyners in uniform who worked as Policemen, Firemen and Nurses.

Uniforms were the essence of the armed forces, and we have chosen to feature men in the uniforms of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry and the Royal First Devon Yeomanry from world war one. There are also pictures depicting Newlyn men (and one woman) in the uniforms of the Royal and Merchant Navy, the Army, and the Royal Flying Core. For world war two we focus on the dress of the men in the Homeguard of whom Geoffrey Garnier, the artist, was in local command.

Another board shows the Newlyn Male Choir who celebrated their 90th Choir Anniversary Concert at St Mary's Church Penzance in 2011 only a few years before they disbanded. It participated in the Cornwall Federation of Male Voice Choirs' Millennium Concert in the Royal Albert Hall in 2000. Its celebrated history spanning nearly 100 years included winning many honours like the Buller Howell Challenge Shield which was won several times.

 What better uniform to bring the exhibition to an end than the traditional dress of the Bards of the Cornish Gorsedh. This must be well known in Newlyn as so many of its folk have become bards since the first Cornish Gorsedh ceremony was held at Boscawen-Un in 1928.


Newlyn Archive Programme of Open Days 2017

Main Hall, Trinity Centre, Chywoone Hill, Newlyn


1 April 2017

'On The Other Side'

It is April 1 and Newlyn has a history of past time jokers who were certainly 'on the other side' as were the smugglers of old and the steam boats from the East Coast when Mounts Bay fishermen rioted in 1896'


17 June 2017

'A Hundred Years Ago'

A year before the end of the war! How were people of Newlyn and Lamorna coping?


2 September 2017

'The People Who Made The Harbour At Newlyn'

Designers, builders, harbour masters and fishermen.


21 October 2017

'Newlyn In Uniform'

As well as the armed forces, nurses, scouts and many others wore uniforms.



The Exhibition showcases material contained in the Archive about the people who came to the area for a time, often contributed a great deal, then left.

The photo of WJ Olds, Butcher in his horse-drawn cart outside the Kings Arms, Paul is just one of the many examples of T0-ING and FRO-ING in the exhibition at the next Newlyn Archive Open Day To-ing and Fro-ing: getting there and getting back at Trinity Centre on Saturday July 16 2016, 10-3.00.

The Exhibition tells the story of transport through the ages as it affected the people who lived at Newlyn and round about Newlyn.

First and foremost, were the fishing boats like the lugger PE 233 Mystery that took seven men to Australia in 1854.

For speed and sea worthiness, Newlyn luggers could not be excelled. In 1885 a Newlyn lugger sailed from Scarborough in less than 72 hours. In 1890 three luggers sailed the 600 miles to Scarborough in 70 hours.

As the fishing industry prospered and the new piers were built there were 'Bird' boats with names like Auk, Albatross, Crane, Drake, Gannet, Guillemot, Mallard, Petrel, Philomel, Raven, and Stork that took pilchards from Newlyn to Genoa

From earliest times, fishing was the most important industry in Newlyn. Horse-drawn vehicles took fish from the fish auctions on the beach at Newlyn to Penzance station for dispatch to the London markets. Before the 1914 war most people at Newlyn relied on these carrier’s carts or on horse drawn wagonettes. Blanche Brown, who was born in 1906 explained that if a woman could afford 2d for a ride to market in the wagonette she would do so, but halfway up Morrab Road she had to get out and walk the steepest part, as the wagonette was pulled by a single horse. Once the wagonette got to the flat, the passengers could get in again; and coming home, they could board the wagon at the top of Morrab Road and ride straight through to the bridge in Newlyn.

Newlyn did not have its first motor bus until December 1919, run by the Hitchens family at Tolcarne. The bus ran from the First and Last Hotel in Penzance through Newlyn and on to Mousehole. The vehicle, registered AF2381, was named Porth Enys, the old name for Mousehole. In 1922 there was competition from the Harvey family of Mousehole who set up their own bus company, and in 1926 the Western National Omnibus Company set up its headquarters at Wherry Town.

There was to-ing and fro-ing below ground as many Newlyn men worked in the mines when fishing was bad. The off-shore Wherry Mine had a long timber trestle over the sea for access. In other mines on the North Coast, miners who worked deep down could have travelled on the reciprocating man engine, which sometimes took as long as 50 minutes to get to the bottom of the shaft, with the men stepping on and off at regular intervals. Below ground there might have been a tramway with wagons to load the tin and sometimes there would be donkeys to pull the heavy wheeled containers.

Janner Maddern to-ed and fro-ed as he drove the engine named after him from Penlee Quarry to Newlyn’s South Pier pulling wagons full of stone to load on to the 'Brook' stone boats, which had names like Caernarvonbrook, Chesterbrook, Clarebrook, Corkbrook, Cornishbrook, Dorsetbrook, Glenbrook, Somersetbrook, Stirlingbrook, Warwickbrook, Westminsterbrook, Winchesterbrook, and Worcesterbrook.


The Exhibition gives many other glimpses of ‘to-ing and fro-ing’ and there will be display books and film shows on the day so please ‘To and Fro’ to Trinity Centre on Saturday. 


Inspiration to develop Newlyn Harbour came from a number of people whose interests ranged between concern for the well-being of fishermen to commercial interest concerned with the landing and sale of fish. The vicars at St Peter’s Church, best represented by the Rev Wladislaw Lach-Szyrma motivated by humanitarian concerns played a key role in the initial fight for the harbour while commercial interests perhaps represented best by the entrepreneur and land owner Thomas Bedford Bolitho continued the impetus. The photograph above shows a proud Thomas Bedford Bolitho in top hat surrounded by other dignitaries at the opening of the North pier on July 3rd 1894.

This Open Day covers the full development of Newlyn Harbour from the election of its first harbour commissioners in 1884 to the present time. It spans the building of the South and North Piers, the erection of two fish markets in 1908 and 1988 and the building of the Mary Williams Pier. It highlights the Newlyn Riots and their aftermath when for nine years from 1897-1906, the management of the harbour was taken over by the Public Works Loan Board. From 1906, when the harbour was returned to its elected commissioners and was becoming more prosperous, there were considerable developments in its infrastructure with a new trawl fish quay, a coastguard boathouse, new harbour offices, new market facilities and RR Bath’s new ice house where Newlyn made its own ice for the first time. Alongside this, the fishing fleet was becoming larger with foreign boats using harbour facilities alongside the growing fleet of Newlyn boats, the most prominent of which, was the post WW2 Stevenson fleet.


Hopefully, the exhibition pinpoints some of the key figures along the way, including the harbour masters, William Oats Strick in 1886, to our present Rob Parsons. But we rely on our visitors to add to the growing dossier of information we have amassed about Newlyn Harbour.

The first Newlyn Archive Open Day of 2016 reminds us that there have been many great storms in the past that certainly equaled 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 PZ26 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 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 derailed, 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...Atrain that left Penzance at 6.25pm that night arrived at Plymouth at 3pm the next day. There was a drift of snow 20ft 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 a loss of over 50 lives. At Penare Point, near the 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 of help were plainly heard on the British Pier.'

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 town was lying beside her. Mining operations in the Cambourne-Redruth area were interrupted. A boy named Wallace left his work at one local mine on the afternoon of the storm to walk home. Ten days afterwards his body was found in a snowdrift 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 the subsequent storms ending with the recent events of 2015.


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


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




Newlyn Archive Programme of Open Days 2015

Main Hall, Trinity Centre, Chywoone Hill, Newlyn


7 February 2015

'Love and Marriage in a Fishing Village'

This Open Day 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.

11 April 2015

'Farming The Forgotten Trade'

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. 


18 July 2015

'When The Quarry Guns Sounded'

Local people remember the 'Quarry Guns' at 12 noon and 4.30 pm signalling that the 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 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 the Runnalls had the contract.

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 Leidesterbrook 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 thetwo loading points. At this time the loos were named after people like TW Lewis and JW Jenkin.

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.

2 October 2015

Where Artists lived in Newlyn and Lamorna

As a young man, John Henry Martin was a midshipman, sailing around the Cape of Good Hope to India before 'discovering' Newlyn in 1870. He was probably the first artist to live at Newlyn, giving Cliff Castle as his address. Cliff CAstle is still there today, situated 'our the Green', on the road to Mousehole. It was to this area of Newlyn that the first artists flocked from 1880-1884. They took up lodgings at Pembroke Lodge, Gwavas Terrace and the Cottage on the Cliff. 

When Stanhope Forbes came to Newlyn in 1884 he lodged at Gwavas Terrace but this part of the village was already losing its early attraction as traffic from the newly opened Penlee Quarries rumbled past the artists' houses and the imminent completion of the South Pier promised even greater disturbance. So Forbes moved to Bellevue, and this became the favoured new location for artists' homes, particularly when TC Gotch moved to the Malt House in 1887 and the Meadow (situated between the Malt house, North Corner, Trewarveneth Street and Belle Vue) became the place where artists built their studios.

By 1900, the Meadow was abandoned in favour of the newly built Newlyn Art Gallery; many of the original artists left Newlyn; Forbes set up his painting school which attracted a new generation of young artists. From 1900 the focus moved  uplong to student lodgings like Myrtle Cottage (Myrtage). Forbes rented Trwarveneth Farm followed by the Gotches who set the tone of all party-going at Newlyn at this time. Forbes built his own house (Higher Faugan) and then Gotch built Wheal Betsy. Both houses were 'uplong', on the road to Lamorna.

The new faces that appeared in Newlyn like the Knights and Munnings also looked towards Lamorna for their accommodation. John 'Lamorna' Birch was at Boleigh Farm from 1892 and when he married in 1902, he moved into the valley to Flagstaff Cottage. By 1911 many of the younger artists from the Forbes School of Painting had followed, making Lamorna, the home of a second artists' circle and making their houses, their landlords and the Lamorna folk whom they painted a further part of art history.