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From the Blog

Newlyn: a Cornish town steeped in history

Posted by Rebecca Jackson on Updated on

© Rosie Gibson via Rosie Gibson Creative

Discover the true Cornish way of life on your next holiday

Steeped in history and tradition, the small fishing town of Newlyn in south west Cornwall offers a unique glimpse into the Cornish way of life. Now a charming harbour-side destination, Newlyn’s rich past is evident in every corner of the fascinating town.

The town’s vibrant history, coupled with first-class restaurants and boutique shops, makes this the perfect location for your next seaside escape. What’s more, with Mousehole and St Michael’s Mount on your doorstep, Newlyn makes the ideal base for exploring the west coast of Cornwall.

Newlyn is also home to Blue Elvin, our award-winning, contemporary holiday home overlooking the stunning Mount’s Bay. With a breathtaking sea view balcony, gorgeous interiors and a heavenly private garden, there’s no better place to make your home-from-home in Newlyn.

To help you plan your west Cornwall staycation, we’ve put together a historical and cultural guide to Newlyn, complete with insider tips, so you can experience and understand traditional Cornish life like a local.

Shipwrecks, fishing and lifeboats


Blue Elvin, Newlyn

Now one of the largest dedicated fishing ports in the UK, Newlyn’s unique character is derived from a long and often tumultuous relationship with the sea. Unfortunately seafaring and fishing can be a perilous business, and Newlyn has experienced local shipwrecks and disasters over the years. After the dreadful loss of the Solomon Browne lifeboat in 1981, the modern Penlee lifeboat now operates from Newlyn harbour. If you go down to the harbour today, you’ll spot all sorts of fishing vessels – from beam trawlers to long liners and crabbers.

Insider tip: for the best fresh fish, straight from the morning’s catch, head down to the Trelawney Fish and Deli, just a stone’s throw from Newlyn Fish Market.

From Newlyn to Westminster, a political story



Newlyn also boasts strong links to the dizzying heights of Westminster. The activist and politician, William Lovett, was born in Newlyn in 1800. A staunch advocate of sobriety and non-violence, he endured imprisonment for challenging those in power. Additionally, in 1937, further protests were made against Westminster. The local boat, the Rosebud, was sailed up the Thames to deliver a petition against the clearance of Newlyn properties directly to the Houses of Parliament.

Insider tip: if you’re a history enthusiast, take a walk down to the eastern end of Lower Green Street – you can still see part of the Rosebud there today.

Newlyn under threat: violence, riots and uprisings


Newlyn has had it’s fair share of unrest over the years; the most significant upset came at the beginning of the 20th century, with the occurrence of the Newlyn riots. Tensions and disagreements increased between the local fishermen and northern fishing crews over fishing on the Sabbath. This provoked violent unrest and clashes between the two groups. Peace wasn’t restored until soldiers were sent to Newlyn by the authorities.

Insider tip: if you’re interested in discovering more about local history and politics, the brilliant Penlee House Museum in Penzance is just a five minute drive away.

For the art-lovers


A unified artistic movement, called the Newlyn School of art, was active from the 1800s until the early 20th century. Due to the fantastic natural light, the colourful locals and the beautiful views, Newlyn has always made a perfect base for artists. In fact, the area remains a vibrant art colony to this day, so don’t forget your sketchbook!

Insider tip: for contemporary art lovers, the Newlyn Art Gallery makes a brilliant rainy day out.

Newlyn, the popular modern holiday destination


In recent years, Newlyn has started to grow into a popular holiday destination, and it’s easy to see why. With its eclectic mix of boutique shops, its range of fantastic restaurants and a modern cinema, there’s so much to do come rain or shine. What’s more, it’s in the perfect location for exploring the west coast of Cornwall; with Mousehole, Penzance and St Michael’s Mount all within a fifteen minute drive, you won’t have to venture far to experience some real Cornish gems.

Insider tip: for a delicious local dining experience, we recommend the historic Newlyn maritime pub, Tolcarne Inn, run by Ben Tunnicliffe. The fresh catch of the day is served alongside local produce, so you’re guaranteed to experience a true taste of Cornwall.

Whether you’re a history-buff, an art-lover, a shopaholic or a foodie, there’s something for everyone in Newlyn. What’s more, if you’d like to experience Newlyn like a local, what better place to stay than right in the heart of the town, overlooking the breathtaking coastal views? Our stunning property, Blue Elvin, is perfect for a family retreat or a gathering of friends.


Posted by Rebecca Jackson

Rebecca loves everything to do with food, beautiful interiors and travel. When she’s not booking her next cookery masterclass, she’s discovering incredible new destinations, restaurants and spas across the UK and beyond.  

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