Newlyn

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Newlyn (Cornish: Lulynn) is a town and fishing port in southwest Cornwall, England, United Kingdom.

Newlyn forms a conurbation with the neighbouring town of Penzance and is part of Penzance civil parish, and is the southernmost town on the British mainland (though not the most southerly settlement). The principal industry in Newlyn is fishing.

The settlement is recorded as Nulyn in 1279 and as Lulyn in 1290, and the name is thought to be derived from the Cornish for “pool for a fleet of boats” which is thought to refer to the shallows offshore also called Gwavas Lake, traditionally the principal mooring for the fishing fleet in the area.

Before the rise of Newlyn as an important settlement the landing rights and most property within the Newlyn area were owned by the Manor of Alverton. Newlyn’s history has been strongly linked to its role as a major fishing port. The natural protection afforded by the Gwavas Lake (an area of seawater in Mount’s Bay) led to many local fishermen using this area as a preferred landing site. Newlyn Harbour is first recorded in 1435 by the Bishop of Exeter; later large-scale improvements to the harbour led to Newlyn becoming the predominant fishing port in Mount’s Bay.

Before the 19th century, “Newlyn” referred only to the area near the old quay. The part of the village which now contains the fish market was known as “Streetanowan”, this was separated at high tide from “Newlyn Town” the site of the lower part of the modern harbour being reclaimed land and formerly a beach. In fact Newlyn comprises three discrete hamlets all previously separated by bodies of water, being Tolcarne, Street-an-Nowan and Trewarveneth.

Before the 1890s, Newlyn (like Mousehole) had strong connections with the nearby parish of Paul. It was common for villagers to climb the relatively steep route from “Newlyn Cliff” to Paul via the area which is now known as Gwavas to worship at Paul Church. Until the mid-20th century an ancient stone cross was present on this route at “Park an Grouse” (The Field of the Cross), this cross was one site of veneration of the Cornish sea deity Bucca, (others were the beaches of Newlyn and Mousehole) the name ‘Bucca’ has often been used as a nickname for people resident in Newlyn: the location of the cross is now unknown.

The Spanish Raid of 1595 destroyed Penzance, Mousehole and Paul as well as Newlyn.

In 1620 the Mayflower stopped off at Newlyn old quay to take on water. A plaque on the quay reads:-

In memory of Bill Best-Harris, historian who through rigorous research found that the Mayflower docked in Newlyn Harbour for fresh water as the water supplied in Plymouth was contaminated. Therefore Newlyn was the last port of call in UK for the Mayflower.

In 1755, the Lisbon earthquake caused a tsunami to strike the Cornish coast over 600 miles away. The sea rose ten feet in ten minutes at Newlyn, and ebbed at the same rate. The 19th century French writer, Arnold Boscowitz, claimed that “great loss of life and property occurred upon the coasts of Cornwall”.

Newlyn was the home of William Lovett a leader of the Chartist movement.

In the 1880s a number of artists flocked to the town and formed an artists’ colony. The painters of Newlyn came to be known as the Newlyn School.

In 1896 Newlyn was the scene of the Newlyn riots following protests over the landing of fish on a Sunday by fishermen from the North of England, the local Cornish fishermen being members of the Methodist church and as such strong supporters of sabbatarianism.

In 1915, the Ordnance Survey tidal observatory was established in the harbour and for the next six years measurements of tidal height were taken every 15 minutes.

In 1937, the fishing vessel Rosebud sailed to London to deliver a petition to the Minister of Health on behalf of those villagers whose homes were threatened under the government’s slum clearance scheme.

During World War II, Newlyn was a base for the Air Sea Rescue craft covering the Western Approaches. The harbour was bombed during the war, hitting the collier ‘Greenhithe’, which was beached in the harbour at the time and supplied coal to the east coast drifters, which travelled to Newlyn during the mackerel fishing season between the wars. Reporting the event on the “Germany Calling” propaganda broadcast Lord Haw-Haw announced that the Luftwaffe had sunk a British cruiser in Newlyn Harbour.

Newlyn is located in southern Cornwall, just south of Penzance. It lies along the B3315 road which connects it to Land’s End.

The Ordnance Survey, the United Kingdom’s mapping agency, used to base all elevations including mapped contour lines and spot heights on the mean sea level at Newlyn defined by this benchmark (see Ordnance Datum Newlyn). The mean sea level data was calculated from hourly readings of the sea level between 1 May 1915 and 30 April 1921.

Newlyn’s economy is largely dependent on its harbour and the associated fishing industry; Newlyn harbour is the largest fishing port in England. The port was a major catcher of pilchard until the 1960s. Today, a few vessels have resumed pilchard fishing and use a modern version of the ring net. The largest vessels are beam trawlers owned by W. Stevenson and Sons Ltd, one of Cornwall’s largest fish producers; most of the other vessels are owned by their skippers. The company based in the Old Pilchard Works today are major supplies of Cornish sardines and mixed species fish.

Because of Newlyn’s association with the creative arts there are also a number of artists and art galleries that are established in the area. In September 2011, a contemporary Newlyn School of Art was formed with Arts Council funding which offers short courses taught by some of the most well known artists working in Cornwall today in disciplines such as painting, drawing, printmaking, stone carving and art history.

The UK National Tidal and Sea Level Facility (NTSLF) maintains a tidal observatory at Newlyn, and the UK Fundamental Benchmark is maintained there.

Newlyn was made famous in the 1880s and 1890s for its Newlyn School artists’ colony, including the painters Thomas Cooper Gotch, Albert Chevallier Tayler and Henry Scott Tuke. The current largest collection of work by the Newlyn School is held by Penlee House Gallery and Museum in nearby Penzance. A collection of Newlyn Copper, produced from circa 1890 – 1920, is on view at Penlee House. Newlyn is the home of Newlyn Art Gallery which houses a collection of modern art.

Between 1970 and 1983, Troika Pottery, an art pottery studio, was based in Newlyn.

Several inns lie along the harbour front.

For the purposes of local government, Newlyn is part of the Penzance Civil Parish and returns five councillors to Penzance Town Council. The principal local authority in the area is Cornwall Council.

Note: this page is partly based on a Wikipedia page. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Where possible, text is being updated to original, fully referenced research. ‘Our photos’ means we took the photographs. The Street View and street map visuals are courtesy of Google.

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