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Newlyn historians explore shops and pubs of yesteryear

By CMJohannaCarr  |  Posted: November 14, 2012

  • Joby Morris’s shop.

  • Ina Hope and her mother at the Pixie Cabin.

  • Carter’s building.

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In the days when the town newsagent knew every customer by name and everyone was a local down the old boozer, Newlyn's commercial businesses looked very different from now.

The Newlyn Archive is asking for help to uncover the stories behind these hidden gems – the shops your grandmother used and the pubs frequented by grandad.

The archive is hosting an open day this Saturday and the group's historians have been busily searching for evidence of the shops, cafés, restaurants and inns that existed in the past.

The local volunteers have found many premises that were once shops and now need help to identify the shopkeepers and innkeepers that kept them.

Newlyn archivist Pam Lomax said very few of those old businesses still existed.

"It is the fourth and final Newlyn Archive open day of the year and it will be the most exciting," she said. "Because the archive recently inherited the West Cornwall Art Archive, it is keen to show the pictures of old shops made by the Newlyn colony of artists who first came to Newlyn in the 1880s."

The research team has already turned up some interesting tales, including the story of William Carter, a grocer, baker and confectioner at Street-An-Nowan before the turn of the 20th century.

A fire broke out in the bakery attached to the grocer's shop on the Old Bridge and the whole block was destroyed.

The fire was described by Carter's granddaughter to Ben Batten and he recorded it in Walk Newlyn With Me, published in 1981.

The young girl's mother took her to the shop after the fire.

She said: "The fire started in the bakehouse, and a fishing boat coming into the harbour saw the flames shooting and hurried in to give the alarm.

"Auntie and grandfather escaped in their night-attire and neighbours came hurrying to help, but only a few bits were saved.

"There was an unfortunate thing – the premises were only half insured. Grandfather decided to fully insure the shop and bakery and had ordered a cab to take him to Penzance to do so on the very morning that the fire happened.

"The premises were rebuilt next year as the date 1896, cut in the granite of the fine front, testifies."

From 1906 to 1910 the whole row of shops and cottages from Carter's building to Barclay's Bank was rebuilt.

One of the buildings in the middle of this row became Joby Morris's greengrocers.

Another now defunct shop was the Pixie Cabin.

Run by Ina Hope and her mother, Florence, the cafe behind Morris' greengrocers was opened in 1959 and was popular with schoolboys for its ice-cream milkshakes.The open day will take place this Saturday from 10am to 3pm at the Trinity Centre and is being sponsored by 28 of Newlyn's current shops, as well as receiving heritage lottery funding.

Entry is free and the open day will be followed by the Newlyn Archive annual meeting at 3.15pm.

From 6pm there will be evening entertainment of poetry and slides about Newlyn for Friends of the Archive in the cafe at Newlyn Art Gallery.Friends' entry is free, visitors £5 each.

For more information, call 01736 362876 or visit the archive on Friday mornings from 9.30am to noon at the Mount's Bay Room at the Trinity Centre.

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  • Lafrowda  |  November 14 2012, 3:24PM

    The Pixie Cabin was open before 1959. A Mrs Cottle ran it in 1955, my mother helped her and I cleared tables there as a boy.

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