The ink and watercolour sketch of fisherman William Henry Tonkin by an unknown artist shows him sitting on the window seat at his cottage at Gwavas Terrace reading a paper. He looks very comfortable. The Tonkins cottage would have had a good fire and William would have had his bit of ‘bacca’ each week and a nice comfortable chair to rest on. This was an important respite to compensate for his long periods at sea.
The Tonkins’ cottage was rather larger than the other cottages in the Terrace, and as William and his wife Annie were childless, there was room for lodgers. It was one of the first cottages to attract artists, despite there being no running water, sanitation that relied on the night soil cart, and light from a paraffin lamp or candles.
Caroline Burland Yates first stayed there in 1879, and when she married Thomas Cooper Gotch, it was the Gotches main lodging house up until 1887 when they rented the Malt House. Stanhope Forbes stayed there when he first came to Newlyn in 1884. Walter Langley painted at least three pictures in its linhay.
This is one of a number of houses in Newlyn and Lamorna that are explored in the next Newlyn Archive Open Day ‘Where the Artists Lived in Newlyn and Lamorna’. The Open Day is at Trinity Centre, Newlyn on Friday 2/10/2015, 2pm-7pm and Saturday 3/10/2015, 10am-3pm. It focuses on the early artist colony and their houses, their landlords and the folk whom they painted, which is now part of art history.
Do download the poster