Media Events

Back in 1916, the tide gauge in the Tidal Observatory on the South Pier began to send readings of the tide levels in Newlyn to the Ordnance Survey in Southampton. Five years later, in 1921, these were averaged to determine Mean Sea Level - this remains the basis for all height measurements around mainland Great Britain after 100 years.

The Centenary of MSL this year has caught the attention of the Ordnance Survey and the national media. Rick Stein's Cornwall filmed in and around the Observatory recently for a broadcast next January, while Countryfile will be filming in Newlyn in early October. Later in the year, the Ordnance Survey will visit us to make a presentation to commemorate the role of Newlyn in their work over the past century.

All this is excellent publicity for Newlyn in general and our Archive in particular. Our contact at the Ordnance Survey has said that he learned more about the history of the OS from reading our book 'Newlyn Tidal Observatory' than he did in his previous ten years of employment there.

Stormy Weather

Photo of the lifeboat returning after the rescue of the shipwrecked saluto in 1911. Fishermen watch from their boats in Newlyn Harbour and a policeman and spectators crowd the Pier. Source K Mildren

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the tragedy of the Solomon Browne Lifeboat with a flotilla of lifeboats in a procession of sail to Penlee Point on Monday 30th August. This was one of many occasions when the lifeboat and its men risked everything to save a boat in distress.

On the morning of December 11 1911, during one of the worst storms on record, a Norwegian barge, the Saluto, was blown ashore near Porthleven. By this time, the lifeboat was stationed at Newlyn. William Kliskey was one of the crew of the lifeboat. On that Monday in December he was working on the old coal hulk Crete moored in the middle of Newlyn harbour. When the rocket went up to call the lifeboat crew, he was unable to leave the coal hulk. His son William, knowing that his dad was stuck on the coal hulk and that many of the Newlyn fishing boats were at sea, ran to the lifeboat house to offer his help. William was only 17 but he had worked on Captain Blewett's fishing boat for several years and was an able sailor.

Desperation made the coxswain accept young William’s offer and one of the crew helped to strap on his lifejacket. After four or five trips all the ship's crew were taken off the Saluto. When the lifeboat returned, a great welcome awaited them at Newlyn, with the Salvation Army Band playing music. No doubt the shipwrecked sailors also received a warm welcome at the new Ship Institute.

William’s story is told in some detail by his brother in a new book by Pam Lomax ‘Newlyn when the Artists Came’. You can purchase a copy using the attached order form.

A Special Portrait

The portrait is of Richard Nicholls who was a Newlyn fisherman. He had two fishing boats,  PZ 486 Auld Lang Syne which was built for him in 1891 and PZ 663 Speedwell, which was built in 1908 and had a steam engine. The old sailing lugger PZ 486 was one of the boats that went to Whitby every year. His granddaughter has sent a wonderful story of how this portrait came about. Richard was in Whitby and got into conversation with the artist Charles H Thompson (1870-1946) who was painting  on the quay. He invited Thompson down to Newlyn and the artist repaid him by painting his portrait. Sadly, we are told that the artist outlived the fisherman who died two or three years after his portrait was painted.

New to the Archive

Rachel Scott  has kindly donated her great grandmother’s postcard book to the Archive. Her great grandmother Bertha Winterbon was a trained nurse and a member of the Friends Ambulance Unit  and served at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Dunkirk during the First World War. She must have worked  alongside Ernest Procter who was a Quaker and therefore a Conscientious Objector. The postcard book contains copies of some of Ernest Procter’s war sketches as well as photos of hospital personnel and postcards. An account of Ernest Procter’s War by David Tovey can be found in  The Flagstaff Issue No 44 Winter 2019

.Figure1 Ernest Procter, The Entrance Hall. From Bertha Winterbon's Postcard book

The Brothers

A Newlyn resident, Jonathan Banks, has rescued an historic Penlee lifeboat from a boatyard in Kent and returned her to Cornwall.  She now lies in the Gweek Classic Boatyard and awaits restoration.  In 1919 three sisters in Torquay funded the lifeboat and named it ‘The Brothers’ after their nephews who had drowned in an accident in Cambridge.  The Brothers was built in 1922, was first called out in January 1923 and was in service at Penlee for eight years until 1931, saving 62 lives.  She later began a new life as a dive support boat in Dover before ending up in a boatyard in Rochester.  Her owner was unable to restore her due to failing health and she was rescued at the eleventh hour by Jonathan and returned to Cornwall in September.  His intention is to get her back into the water as a working boat.

A fundraising page at has been set up for anyone wishing to donate to help fund the restoration work.  The hull is largely original, but there is a daunting amount of work to be done, much of it expensive.


Henry Martin's painting is reproduced in a new book that the Archive has published. The book, Walk Newlyn, costs £5. Order Forms for the new book are available on the Website.

Picture: Henry Martin, Breakneck Alley, private collection.

We were surprised at how much has changed in Newlyn since earlier walk books were published and we were keen to showcase this alongside the important historical landmarks recognised in earlier books. The new book makes ‘walking Newlyn’ accessible to more people by splitting it into three separate walks round each of the historic districts of Old Newlyn – Newlyn Town, Street-an-Nowan and Tolcarne. We have been able to illustrate the book with images from old Newlyn so that visitors can imagine more easily how the village has developed. We have also reproduced some paintings of the Newlyn Colony Artists by kind permission of Penlee House Gallery where the original paintings may be seen.

Walk Newlyn, published by Newlyn Archive, August 2020. ISBN 978-0-9567528-5-7. Price £5.

Artists at Gwavas Terrace

The Tonkins cottage was on the southern corner of Gwavas Terrace which consisted of a number of dwellings. There was a small strip of garden at the front and two front doors; one led to the Tonkins cottage and the other to that of their nearest neighbour. The other dwellings of Gwavas Terrace were accessed at the side and back of the Terrace. On the landside there were orchards.
The Tonkins’ cottage was rather larger than the other cottages in the Terrace, being roomy enough for two visitors. However, as with all cottages in Newlyn in the 1880s, there was no running water and sanitation relied on the night soil cart, and the only light was from a paraffin lamp or candles and there was no light in the streets at all.
The front door of the Tonkins cottage opened into a hallway. There were doors on either side to the parlour and front room, and a kitchen at the far end. A staircase rose to the three bedrooms on the floor above. At the far end of the kitchen, there was a window and a door into the linhay. The linhay was a paved yard surrounded by neighbouring cottages, whose upper storeys projected over it, so that only its centre was open to the sky. The sheltered portion served as a store-place. The linhay at Gwavas Terrace could be accessed directly from the street by means of a covered ope, which was a dark passage or tunnel running down the side of the house. This was part of the Tonkins’ cottage, although the flying freehold above formed part of the cottage, next door.
There was an upper room above the covered part of the linhay at the Tonkins’ cottage, called the sail loft, which smelled of cutch, tanned nets, tar, and creosote and contained the nets that were out of season or being repaired. This is where Thomas Cooper Gotch made a rough studio in the early 1880s and was used by artists Stanhope Forbes (who stayed at the cottage when he first came to Newlyn in 1884) and Walter Langley. Thomas Cooper Gotch painted some of his most significant early work while staying at the cottage, including Hiding from Granny, 1883 and The Sailor’s Farewell, 1886, both painted in the linhay of the cottage.

The doorway and window shown in this picture is painted from the linhay at Gwavas Terrace. Walter Langley used this as the background for two of his well-known paintings, A Cousin from Town, 1898 and A Chip off the Old Block, 1905.


In 1879 Gwavas Terrace was the home of the childless William (a fisherman) and Annie Tonkin. They rented rooms to some of the first artists of the Newlyn Colony. NAME THE ARTISTS AND THEIR PAINTINGS.


Henry Martin’s painting is reproduced in a new book that the Archive has published. The book, Walk Newlyn, costs £5. Order Forms for the new

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Cliffside Stores

Michael Hitchens, currently in lockdown in Spain, thought the woman in the doorway of the grocery and vegetable shop looked like his grandmother Hannah Deeble

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Open Day 16 June 2018

There were 138 visitors to this open day, ‘Getting There and Getting Back’, and it was very enthusiastically received. Many conversations could be heard of

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Happy New Year 2018

The collage above celebrates the final opening of the Boathouse in 2017, when Friends of the Archive provided light refreshments for visitors and there was

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November 2017

Above: David Tredinnick, Chairman of the Newlyn Archive with film-maker Shauna Osborne-Dowle at the launch of the film ‘Boathouse Diary’ at the recent Open Day.

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Report on the Open Day

Christopher Laughton took this wonderful photo of the Archive Open day at Trinity on Saturday 6th September. 114 visitors visited the exhibition which was about

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February 2017

We would like to share the first letter addressed to the archive at its new home in the Admiralty Boathouse, which appropriately was a Friend’s

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News for May 2016

We had another very successful open day last month. The Building of Newlyn Harbour was held at Trinity Centre on April 4 2016 and was

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