Walking through the coastal communities of St Minver on the Camel estuary in the dead of night in winter can be unnerving. The place is eerily quiet, not a light to be seen in the empty houses staring out to sea. The parish now exists in a curious limbo – in Cornwall but eerily not … Continue reading St Minver: Second homes and servants
Overcrowding at Gwithian
In the mid-1800s Gwithian, on the eastern shore of St Ives Bay, was a quiet backwater, before dynamite works made it rather noisier for a short time from the 1880s. The expanse of bleak towans bordering the sea was home to wildlife not people, while seals basked undisturbed in the coves near Godrevy Point. It … Continue reading Overcrowding at Gwithian
Cornwall is a lot more than tourism as its history shows. On 65 hectares of the flat plateau of the Lizard peninsula at Goonhilly Downs there’s an unexpected listed building. This can be found in the shape of the first satellite dish built to receive the pathbreaking television images bounced across the Atlantic via Telstar … Continue reading Goonhilly
As the production of copper from the central mining district around Camborne and Redruth soared in the eighteenth century local mine investors and landlords were confronted by transport bottlenecks. It was becoming ever more difficult to import enough coal to feed the growing number of steam engines, or to export the copper ore quickly and … Continue reading Portreath harbour
St Ives transformed
St Ives looks likely to find itself in the news over the next three months as a global media circus descends on west Cornwall to cover the G7 summit. It’s unlikely many of the visitors will enquire after the town’s recent history. Let’s take the opportunity to have a quick peek at it before St … Continue reading St Ives transformed
Forenames and identity
St Peran didn't just leave his name in the landscape. On occasion, the name Piran or Perran is bestowed on male babies. However, this isn't some age-old tradition, surviving from the days of the saints. On the other hand, it's not entirely novel either. The forename Perran was being used in Perranzabuloe in the 1600s … Continue reading Forenames and identity
Cornwall, the G7 Summit and stereotyping
The news that Cornwall will be hosting this year's G7 Summit (pesky viruses permitting) opens up all sorts of opportunities to ‘showcase the Cornwall brand’. Swarms of journalists will descend from across the globe eager for copy. But will all they devour be the same stale old imagery of Cornwall as just a tourist destination? … Continue reading Cornwall, the G7 Summit and stereotyping
The railway and Cornish identity
Last week I summarised an article which called for the Church of England to take account of regional identities and specifically the Cornish identity. This week I review another article which takes as its subject the Cornish identity. This one assesses the ways in which the railway has contributed to that identity. (For a more … Continue reading The railway and Cornish identity
On the morning of December 22nd, 1986, Cornwall’s best-known politician of the late twentieth century, David Penhaligon, was killed in a car crash. The death of Penhaligon, 42 years old and Liberal MP for Truro since 1974, came as a huge shock. Penhaligon was the son of a caravan park owner in Truro. Educated at … Continue reading David Penhaligon
Cornwall: England’s last refuge?
These days, it seems you can’t scan the TV schedules without being confronted by programmes set in Cornwall. Just this week we have ‘Rick Stein’s Cornish Christmas’ on BBC. On Channel 4 there’s ‘Newquay: 24/7 party people’, while Channel 5 is showing ‘Cornwall’s most scenic railway journeys’. ‘Cornwall Air 999’ can be found on Really, … Continue reading Cornwall: England’s last refuge?