Above: Members of the Laura Knight Society on the Cliff, Newlyn The Newlyn Archive hosted a group of 32 members of Dame Laura Knight Society from Malvern, on Thursday 16/5/2019. The Society wanted to visit the houses of artists associated with Laura Knight and three stalwart Friends of the Archive (Ron Hogg, Andrew Gordon and Richard Cockram) led three walks that took off at 15 minute intervals from Wheal Betsy. Wheal Betsy was an appropriate place to start. Built by Thomas and Caroline Gotch in 1910 the Knights had moved into the Gotches’ previous home at Trewarveneth when the latter moved to Wheal Betsy. Both families had come to Newlyn in 1906 and Phyllis Gotch and Laura Knight became close friends, being of a similar age. Pam Lomax made the introductions and was able to wet appetites by reading a letter written by Phyllis Gotch to Laura Knight in July 1906, which described a dinner that was held at Penzer House where Mrs Beer was landlady. Left: Two groups cross on their walk to the Artists' houses Fortunately it was a down-hill walk. 13 Artists Houses were identified: Wheal Betsy, La Pietra, Malt House, Orchard Cottage, Mount Vernon, Boase Castle, Penzer House, Myrtle Cottage, Meadow Studios, North Corner, Rue de Beaux Arts, Joel and Keel Alley. From there, the groups walked to the Boathouse. Ron, Andrew and Richard shared some of the knowledge we have in the West Cornwall Art Archive about artists’ houses. Richard reported ‘my group asked plenty of questions, some of which I could answer thanks to Ron’s notes’. Ron said that he had recounted Laura Knight’s story of coming home to Penzer and finding Alfred Munnings comfortably settled in one of the armchairs. Munnings had said, ‘Mrs Beer has let me a bedroom and says I can share your sitting room and have meals with you’. Apparently, Harold Knight was not amused! In the Meadow all the groups were invited into the studio of artist Virginia ‘Ginnie’ Bounds, who is currently resident in Stanhope Forbes Anchor Studio, which once house the Forbes School of painting and is said to have the original anchor from Forbes famous painting outside. The walk ended at the Admiralty Boathouse where Sean Perrott and Helen Burnham and their team of Friends were waiting. Brian Newton had made a short film with extracts from different films about Laura Knight held in the archive. Sean and Helen said that ‘the Boathouse became alive with the arrival of the first group of the Laura Knight Society members. More arrived later, some a little tired after their walk, but all interested in looking through the folders or enjoying the excellent film show. There were plenty of questions, not only relating to the collections, but also to the restoration of the Boathouse. A great many signed our Boathouse Diary. It was a very enjoyable morning.’
On the first sunny day of Spring 60 Friends of the Archive and invited guests, varying in age from eight to eighty, enjoyed a rare visit to the Tidal Observatory on the South Pier. Four visits took place on the day, with only three or four people allowed inside at any one time, since this Grade II listed building is still fulfilling a vital scientific purpose after nearly 100 years of operation.
Originally built in 1915, and equipped to establish Mean Sea Level, the Observatory now provides one of the longest continuous records of sea levels in the world, essential for studies of climate change.
For much of its existence the Observatory was run and maintained by local people, though nowadays it is automatic. For the visitors, seeing the Observatory for themselves was a perfect complement to reading about it in the book published last year. An added bonus was that the tour guides were Richard Cockram and Ron Hogg, two of the authors of the book.
Before the South Pier was built the area around Green Slip was used by the local boatbuilders and shipwrights such as Francis Hitchen. The two buildings at the bottom of the slip were known as the upper boathouse and the lower boathouse. In due course the upper and lower boathouse were used by the renowned sail maker JH Francis.
Figure: 34 PZ in front of old boathouse on the Green Slip before the South Pier was built
The following letter to the editor of the Cornishman says it all.
Sir, − Reading your paper I see a lot of old Cornish words and amongst them the ‘timmy noggy’ of a Mount’s Bay boat; a piece of wood with notches in it, for the ‘vargouard’ to rest on. This vargouard has been done without in some boats these 33 years. The boat New Tar, of Newlyn belonging to Mr Trahair of Newlyn, was the first boat that had a sail cut by JH Francis, sail-maker. Mr JH Francis was the sail-maker who cut the first lug-sail, to set without a vargouard, in Mount’s Bay. Cornishmsn, June 5, 1879.
It was with great sadness that Patrons of St Peters Players learned that the motion ‘The St Peter's Players, Newlyn be formally disbanded’ was carried at the Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, 15 August 2018. The Newlyn Archive contains the papers, programmes and photos that document the history of this remarkable group which has entertained us for over 50 years. The players' very generous donation of almost £500 to the Archive will go to editing a book about the Players.
We asked Diane Tredinnick to remember a particularly remarkable play and she chose ‘My Three Angels’ in which Goff Johns made his directorial debut.
The numbers 4707, 6817 and 3011 were not attached to heavenly angels but to three likeable Rogues (Adam Bowkett, David Tredinnick, and Peter Byrne) incarcerated in a French penal colony in the early 1900s!
The Archive has re-published with some corrections and minor alterations its very successful first publication, Newlyn at War. The price has risen since the first edition, but it is still only £8 and would make a wonderful Christmas present in this year devoted to remembering the horrors of war.
A new picture in the book shows Sid and Bert Perrott with Mary and Amy Hichens on Newlyn Green Beach with the barbed wire fence of wartime clearly visible behind. Seymour Cooke who joined the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry and helped construct the beach defences, claimed that the longest run of barbed wire was from Newlyn Harbour to Marazion.
On Saturday 24 November 2018 the Community Fund Team from our local Co-op invited members of the Archive to join them to celebrate receiving the final payment raised for the Archive. This amount is the Archive's share of the fund sponsored by the Co-op. The money is raised by the Co-op giving 1% of the amount their members spend.
The Archive very much appreciates having been chosen as a beneficiary of the fund. The final amount is a remarkable £9,639.80. The money is being used to enable us to share our resources with the local community.
On Wednesday 21st November 2018, the Newlyn Archive hosted a group of students from Cape Cornwall School along with their teachers and the author JR Carpenter. They came as part of the Dark Sky Bright Stars project organized by Joanna Mays to learn about researching topics, such as navigation, and to experience the workings of an Archive
After lunch at Trinity and a short film about the Mystery projected by Brian Newton, the students walked down the hill to the Boathouse where Ron Hogg showed them ‘the anchor fouled’, the Admiralty symbol carved in stone at the corner of the Boathouse. Inside the Boathouse, Sue Newton pointed out different aspects of the building and briefly explained how an archive operates. Pam Lomax had prepared two displays of archive material, one to show the role of the Boathouse when it housed the rocket wagon and the other to illustrate the route the Mystery took via Cape Town to Melbourne.
After the introduction, the students were divided into two groups. Ron Hogg explained how the rocket system had worked and Peter Morgan explained about navigation and how the Mystery had made its journey navigating by the stars. The students seemed totally engaged and were fascinated by some of the old documents they were shown. They surprised their tutors by the detailed knowledge they had about some of the events, such as shipwrecks.
‘Having been married to a primary school teacher for over 40 years’, Peter Morgan said, ‘I feel well qualified to judge the behaviour of primary school children, and the children from Cape Cornwall must be amongst the best behaved that I have ever met. Well ordered, well dressed, well behaved and with sensible questions and interested attention to their subject. I was impressed, and their teachers and families can be very proud of them.’
On October 15, 2018 Richard Cockram, Ron Hogg and Brian Newton visited the new location to which the Cornwall Record Office will be transferring in 2019. The photo on the left shows the team with the building in the background
Kresen Kernow - or Cornwall Centre - will be an amazing new base for the Cornwall Archive, the Studies Library and the Cornwall and Scilly Historic Environment Record when they are brought together for the first time in April next year. The historic Redruth Brewery building at the heart of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site is being converted to house the world's largest collection of manuscripts, books and documents related to Cornwall. When we visited in mid-October, we were confidently informed that building works would be completed by Christmas and the miles of shelves would be filled and ready to be accessed by April 2019 - it was hard to believe! Filling any gaps in our own Archive will be far quicker and easier. There will also be a cafe on site for weary researchers. Ron Hogg
The site is that of the disused brewery at the lower end of Redruth and quite near the Tesco store. A high standard has been adopted for external finishes and materials used to compliment and blend in with the existing old buildings. Work inside continues apace and there are miles of cable and wiring looms hanging in great loops waiting to be run along their cable trays and connected up. There has been extensive thought given to the future requirements regarding storage capacity and two very large rooms arranged with high capacity travelling shelving installed. Extremely sensitive smoke alarms will be fitted, and the rooms have only one entrance and no windows; temperature and humidity control of a high standard is included. There is much to say but suffice to say here that we can be well assured that design and planning to a very high level has been applied throughout by the CRO team.