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 2016 on Saturday February 13, 2016 10-3.00 at Trinity Centre reminds us that there were many great storms in the past that certainly equalled the recent one of 2015. Here are two examples of many that we share at the Open Day.
The great storm of October 1880 flooded Newlyn and wrecked the fishing boats moored there, sending them to the bottom, stranding them on the shore, or wrecking them on the rocks. Even more tragically, it resulted in the loss of the Mousehole fishing boat PZ 26 Jane, a 2nd class lugger which went down just outside Penzance harbour. The crew of six men and a boy were drowned in full sight of their wives and children. The rocket apparatus was on the pier but the storm was too ferocious for it to be used. As with all disasters some good accrued later and the 1880 storm was a powerful argument in getting approval for the building of a South Pier at Newlyn; it was also key in leading to the construction of the new road on the Western Green, between Wherrytown and Newlyn.
There were many serious storms that followed. One storm was called the Blizzard in the West. Cornishman reporter Douglas Williams contributed the following account to the records of the storm that were collected and published a month after the blizzard.
‘It was on Monday March 9, back in 1891 that the giant blizzard struck the county. The fine weather of the past weeks suddenly ended, the temperature dropped quickly, and snow began to fall as the wind increased in strength. There was tremendous damage to property in the next few days, trains were de-railed, many ships wrecked around the Cornish coast, and throughout the county there were stories of lives lost in snowdrifts…
On the railways in Cornwall and Devon some passengers were snowed up in a train for 36 hours… During this week the takings on the Great Western showed a drop of £12,980… A train that left Penzance at 6.25 pm that night arrived at Plymouth at 3 pm next day. There was a drift of snow 20 ft high at Grampound… When a gang of men arrived to clear the track the cold was so intense that the snow froze on the men’s clothes, practically encasing them in ice…
Much of the damage on land could be repaired: at sea there was a different tale. During this week there were wrecks from Start Point to Falmouth resulting in the loss of over 50 lives. At Penare Point, near Helford River, the 2,282 tons Bay of Panama went aground. The captain, his wife, all but one of the six officers, four apprentices and six of the crew, were either frozen to death in the rigging or drowned… There was a serious collision, resulting in the loss of 22 lives, about 140 miles SW of the Isles of Scilly. Only two were saved of the crew of the Roxburgh Castle ‘although their piteous cries for help were plainly heard on the British Peer.’
A hawker of wild flowers, Ambrose Matthews was found dead under three feet of snow at Newquay… One woman… found buried in the snow… had mistaken the gate of the field… for that of her own home, and entering the field had fallen exhausted… her basket with the provisions she had bought in the town was found lying beside her. Mining operations in the Camborne-Redruth area were interrupted. A boy named Wallace left his work at one local mine on the afternoon of the storm to walk to his home. Ten days afterwards his body was found in a snow-drift some 30-40 yards from his home.
The Archive Exhibition touches on most of the great storms that have hit Newlyn from the 1880 and 1891 storms to the Great Ash Wednesday Storm 1962, and other subsequent storms ending with the recent events of 2015.
Also contributing to the Exhibition will be the Mousehole Archive and the Lamorna Society Archive.
Let us hope all the storms on Saturday February 13, 2016 will be inside the main hall at Trinity Centre!
Do download the poster.
Click on the PDF file below and save it to your computer.