Gwenver Cottage - Newlyn - Cornwall

Newlyn fishing boatNewlyn is a small town situated around a big harbour. It is in fact home to one of the largest fishing fleets in the country, with nearly 50 acres of harbour. A wide variety of fishing vessels can be seen in the harbour from the big beam trawlers down to small open boats used for hand-lining for mackerel out in Mount's Bay.

Much of the town was rebuilt in the 16th century after it was was sacked and torched by a Spanish raiding party but little of the old town remains. What is more in the 1930s the residents had to fight tooth and nail to save many Newlyn's cottages which make up the narrow alleys clinging to the hillside. They were pencilled in for demolition to allow the building of 'modern housing' which would have amounted to the town being turned into one big council estate. It was only the outbreak of the Second World War that saved them. At the time of writing many feel the town is under threat again from a proposed luxury marina complex a few miles down the Mousehole road and a large fish processing plant in the Coombe. Many locals feel the unsavoury aspects of the town are being moved out to make way for gentrification.

Old quayOne of the few remaining really old parts of Newlyn is the Old Quay which is now dwarfed by the walls of the North and South Piers.

Newlyn's is well known for its artistic heritage - The Newlyn School of Painting started by artists such Stanhope Forbes and Walter Langley who were inspired by the 'plein air' style of painting. Other painters in the group included Elizabeth Stanhope Forbes, Norman Garstin, T.C.Gotch, and Henry Scott Tuke. In 1899, Stanhope Forbes and his wife Elizabeth founded a School of Art at Newlyn and from here was spawned a second generation of Newlyn artists including A.J.Munnings, Lamorna Birch and Laura Knight. Some of these artists went on to form the less influential Lamorna school.

Art in Newlyn is still alive and kicking with two excellent galleries and a few quality artists dotted around

Newlyn streetThe high street in Newlyn supports a supermarket, some fish shops, one or two small cafés, a couple of pubs and Waghorn Stores which is the kind of hardware store that has disappeared from most other towns - I don't know if anyone has ever taken a complete inventory of Waghorns but you can get most things there!

It is worth trying to get up early enough to catch Fish Market and to see the fish being sold. The fish is displayed in coloured baskets and ticketed awaiting auction. Some of the fish are destined for local consumption, but most are sold to buyers from various other European countries, especially to France, Spain and Portugal.

The Pilchard Works is a working Museum, where Cornish Salt Pilchards are pressed using screw presses and then packed into wooden barrels for export to Europe, much as they have done for the last hundred years or so.

On August Bank Holiday Monday the Newlyn Fish Festival takes place, when stalls and cafés take over the quays for the day. There are coastguard demonstrations, tours of working boats, more fish than you can shake a stick at and then the day degenerates into heavy drinking at the Swordfish!