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.

The Tolcarne Inn c1912

The painting by Alec Walker shows Jessie Bray and Grace Thomas behind the bar of the Tolcarne Inn. Jessie Bray owned the Tolcarne in the late 1800's. Her daughter Grace Thomas took over from her until the St Austell Brewery bought the Inn  in the 1960's.  During the early years, many Newlyn artists drank there, including Alec Walker, who first came to Newlyn in 1912. Grace Thomas was a good friend of Derek Tangye and is mentioned in his books. Thanks to Grace’s granddaughter Lizzie for the information.



This painting was done by Alec Walker c1912 and shows the landlady and her daughter behind the bar of a famous Newlyn Inn. The Inn is very ancient and situated next to the sea.

Cliffside Stores

Mary Hitchens stands in the doorway of the grocery and vegetable shop, Cliffside c1940. 'Cliffside Stores, Groceries, Fruit, Sweets, Cigarettes and Tobacco' is written on the sign.

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 Hitchens. A census lists Hannah as the shop manageress with her husband ‘Jack’ Hitchens as bus owner and driver of what was the original brown and cream Penzance-Mousehole bus. However, Claire Murton says that the lady in the photograph was her mother, Mary Uren (néé Hitchens), daughter of Hannah and Jack, the photo probably taken before she married Charles Uren.

The shop was at Cliffside in Fore Street, Newlyn, on the corner of Boase Street. Cath Langman (nee Richards) who used to live in Church Street emailed to say that the shop had two entrances, one in Fore St and one in Boase St. The house next door at 16 Fore Street was called Westcliff, and was occupied by Michael Hitchens’ uncle, carpenter John Wroath, and his wife Olive. John was a keen rugby fan and Michael Hitchens and his father occasionally went to matches with him.

Cliffside is now double fronted with two bow windows with central access door and is one dwelling. The doors between Cliffside and Westcliff were originally an access to what would have been a small ope of properties and sail loft, which subsequently have been incorporated and extended into both the adjoining houses. Some years ago Westward TV aired a programme called Walking Westward with Clive Gunnell. He interviewed Granny Hitchens, at the time being the oldest female resident in Newlyn

Please add any information to this account. So far we have had one correction. The next quiz will be posted soon..


Here at Newlyn Archive, we are finding new ways to keep our friends involved. Below, we have displayed  part of a photo from our digital archive. Can you identify this image? We will publish the whole photo at our next posting. Do let us know what you think!

Here are some clues. The photo was taken in Newlyn Town. The woman is standing outside a shop. Can you name the shop and its location? Who was the woman?

A Vaccination for Smallpox

Photo of Linhay at Vaccination Court
Photo of Linhay at Vaccination Court (M Gendall)

Vaccination Court was one of the small courtyard complexes off South Fore Street, Newlyn Town. In local folklore, it was linked with the cholera outbreak of 1832, but it was more likely to have been associated with smallpox.

Smallpox was endemic in the eighteenth century. When Newlyn St Peter’s was formed in 1848, its parish surgeons used a vaccination, based on cowpox to combat smallpox. The smallpox vaccine was the first vaccine to be developed against a contagious disease. In 1796, the British doctor Edward Jenner demonstrated that an infection with the relatively mild cowpox virus conferred immunity against the deadly smallpox virus. He had observed that milkmaids who previously had caught cowpox did not catch smallpox.

By 1848, vaccination was freely provided to all. The 1840 Vaccination Extension Act extended free vaccination to rich and poor alike. The Act required Boards of Guardians to contract doctors to vaccinate all persons. Annual returns had to be submitted to the Poor Law Commission to ensure that the duty was carried out in all areas of the Country. Most likely, Vaccination Court was the centre where the vaccinations at Newlyn Town were performed.

Epidemics in the Past: Cholera

Newlyn, like other places in Cornwall suffered during the great cholera epidemics of the nineteenth century; the disease spread quickly because of overcrowding and lack of sanitation. In 1832, the year of a cholera epidemic, the West Briton described Newlyn Town as, 'A very narrow street between the cottages and the edge of the precipice. Down this precipice the filth from the houses and fish offal flows, but instead of being allowed to flow into the sea, which washes the cliff, it is intercepted in its descent and received into open pits, from which such effluvium arises that it is a matter of surprise how the inhabitants can continue to live in the midst of it.'

That year, William Williams recorded in his diary for August, September and October 1832:
‘Our village of Newlyn was visited with a dreadful distemper called the cholera morbis, which carried off above 100 souls; on Paul Feast Day no less than six were interred.’
This was one third of the 300 cholera deaths recorded for the whole of Cornwall. The Paul Church burial records listed over ninety victims in Newlyn Town and Street-an-Nowan but this excluded people living in Tolcarne, which was part of the Parish of Madron.

According to a report in the 1832 Lancet, the British medical magazine, Henry Penneck, a Penzance doctor, treated many of the cholera victims. His treatments included ‘bleeding from the head, mercurial fumigations and bandaging of the abdomen’. In the same report, Mary Wilkins, the only nurse in Newlyn (whose pay was 3s per week,) was commended as ‘highly deserving of a public re¬ward’. But in 1832, cholera was a completely new disease. Its onset was sudden with muscle cramps, vomiting and intense diarrhoea. The disease was usually fatal and killed the victim by dehydration.

Unfortunately, contemporary doctors like Henry Penneck, knew little about the disease, and none of his remedies cured the cholera. The victims were buried at Paul, at a cemetery known as the cholera field. The overseer of Paul cemetery at that time was Mr Charles Downing, a brewer and spirit merchant. According to Humphrys, ‘many were the barrels of brandy used among the cholera victims, and one story goes, that a person in a deep coma who had already been measured for her coffin, was revived by a brisk rubbing in the spirit’.
At that time, the main route to Paul was through Mousehole, but the citizens of Mousehole, fearing contagion, would not allow the Newlyn people to enter their village. The burial carts had to make their way over Carn Gwavas (which later became known as the coffin route) and along the old churchway. The burials were done at night lit only by candles and pilchard oil lamps.

When the cholera epidemic ended, the Mousehole folk opened their doors as if nothing had happened and expected the Newlyners to reciprocate. Were they surprised ‘when some persons from Mousehole were attacked in the streets of Newlyn and were compelled to fly, in consequence of being assailed by missiles?’

The epidemic had passed by November so that a thanksgiving sermon was preached by the Revd Mr Gurney at Paul Church on November 21, 1832, a sentiment that was repeated the following year in an anniversary sermon by the same curate.

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

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November 2017

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February 2017

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March 2016 News

The photos were taken at the last Open Day ‘The Great Storms’ on Saturday February 13, 2016, when we had a record 272 people visiting

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Archive Open Day

The picture above shows high tide at Newlyn Harbour’s North Pier, October 27 2004. Courtesy of Roger Clemence. The first Newlyn Archive Open Day of

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November News 2015

The amazing picture of St Mary’s Church photographed by Vaughan T Paul after the thunderstorm of 4/8/1899 shows work in progress to replace over 100

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