St Ive: riding the rollercoaster

Outside Cornwall the east Cornish parish of St Ive is liable to be confused with the better-known St Ives in the west. But St Ive experienced a much more dramatic change in the Victorian period than did the stereotypically picturesque St Ives. Within the space of one generation St Ive had been transformed from an … Continue reading St Ive: riding the rollercoaster

St Columb Minor: full circle at Newquay

Newquay, in the parish of St Columb Minor, is now one of Cornwall’s largest towns. With its surfing and music festivals, reputation for drunken partying and crowds of tourists, it’s not the most obviously ‘Cornish’ place in Cornwall. Mediterranean-style seafront developments and massive housing projects, with a lot more to come, that steadily encroach on … Continue reading St Columb Minor: full circle at Newquay

Hayle: powerhouse of Cornish engineering

In 1779, John Harvey, a blacksmith in the parish of Gwinear, moved to Hayle and established a small foundry there. His son Henry worked to transform this into Cornwall’s major engineering works, by the nineteenth century employing hundreds of men. To the east of Harvey’s foundry was Copperhouse Foundry, originally a copper smelting works begun … Continue reading Hayle: powerhouse of Cornish engineering

Perranarworthal: fitting engines and feeding boarders

We arrive at the three parishes named after Perran, who has become Cornwall’s patron saint. Perranarworthal (Perran at the manor of Arworthal, meaning by the marsh), on the western bank of the Fal estuary upriver from Penryn, was one of Cornwall’s more industrial parishes in Victorian times. It was here that the Foxes had financed … Continue reading Perranarworthal: fitting engines and feeding boarders

Liskeard: Victorian Cornwall’s boom town

In the 1830s copper ore reserves were discovered on Caradon Hill on the southern edge of Bodmin Moor near Liskeard. Soon after, in 1843, rich lead deposits were noted to the south east at Menheniot and to the south of the town. In consequence Liskeard became Cornwall’s boom town in the 1840s as several mines … Continue reading Liskeard: Victorian Cornwall’s boom town

Portreath: Illogan’s industrial port

The parish of Illogan is in the heart of what was once called Cornwall’s Central Mining District, serving as a useful barrier between the towns of Camborne and Redruth. It is the location of South Crofty, the last working Cornish tin mine, which closed in the early 1990s. On the coast we find Portreath, formerly … Continue reading Portreath: Illogan’s industrial port

Grade: the cycle of life – in and out of farming

The parish of Grade on the Lizard peninsula is now combined with its equally small neighbours of Ruan Major and Ruan Minor. In Victorian times however, it still glorified in its independence. The 327 souls in the parish in 1861 got their living principally from farming. As many as 48, or two thirds, of the … Continue reading Grade: the cycle of life – in and out of farming

Feock’s hidden past

Feock is now one of Cornwall’s posher parishes, with more than its fair share of upmarket housing, retirees and Truro commuters. It wasn’t always so. In 1861 a range of more proletarian occupations were represented in the parish. These included the familiar farmers, agricultural labourers, miners, mariners and shipwrights - with none of these groups … Continue reading Feock’s hidden past