Newlyn A Cornish Fishing Village A short guide with pictures
Newlyn in West Cornwall
Newlyn, home of the second largest fishing fleet in the Country, contributing millions of pounds to the Cornish economy each year. Vessels of all sizes can be seen. From huge ocean going beam trawlers, long liners, crabbers, to small open boats hidden in the Old Harbour, used for handlining for mackerel in the Bay. A thriving, evocative, hard working and so busy place often overlooked by Cornwall tourists only keen to head to the nearest sunny beach.
All overlooked by white painted or stone faced granite cottages, separated by narrow alleys often too steep or narrow for a motor car. The ancient medieval harbour walls are dwarfed by the walls of the North and South Piers constructed a hundred years ago.
Wander the Quays, get up at Dawn. In summer maybe the handliners unloading their catch of gleaming silver mackerel. Hear the fish being sold, in the bustling spotlessly clean Newlyn Fish Market. The fish in rectangular baskets of many colours, neatly stacked, and ticketed waiting for a buyer in the 7am Auction. Bids are per kilo. From dovers to hand line caught tuna to monk to lemons to john dorey. Take a tip from the experts- the redder the gill the fresher the fish, do not be afraid to pick one up, and when opening the gills and checking their colour also take a deep sniff- if the smell is of the sea then the fish is fresh. Some fish is destined for restaurants in Cornwall, but most for foreign buyers. Articulated trucks being loaded for the long drive to the continent. Ice, fuel and provisions being delivered to trawlers about to put to sea, provisions being loaded for what may be a trip lasting nearly two weeks.
The smell of diesel and grease in the air. The jumble that is fishing gear- chains that are dragged along the sea bottom in front of the net, metal doors used to keep the net open, gill nets heaped in tangles of green in every spare corner. Plastic tubs containing long lines, neatly coiled ready for the next trip. Hooks stuck in rows. If you are really lucky you may even see a seal. Don't trip on the gear and nets piled high. Keep away from unfenced drops, boats landing their catch, or loading stores and ice prior to going to sea.
The Penlee Lifeboat RNLB Ivan Ellen waiting for the emergency call. Did you know that this modern class of lifeboat is designed to stay afloat, not to be launched from a slipway? The old lifeboat station (no public access) is at nearby Penlee Point on the way to Mousehole. You enter the working harbour solely at your risk.
Mention sadly must be made of the Pilchard Works now closed. Up to 2005 Cornish Salt Pilchards were pressed using screw presses before being packed into wooden barrels for export to Italy, much as they have done for the last 90 years. On a happier note see the shipwright's progress on the restoration of the Cornish Lugger 'Ripple', built in 1896 on the foreshore in nearby St Ives, and the fascinating black and white photographs displayed on the yard's walls. In October 2007 Ripple was re-launched. There are lots of places to stay in and around West Cornwall Bed and Breakfast.
Newlyn Art Gallery and The Exchange, Penzance The Gallery has recently been refurbished, both it and the eye-catching new art space The Exchange in nearby Penzance- in their words "showcase the very best of national and international contemporary art". Art lovers may also care to visit Penlee House Gallery and Museum.
Remember Newlyn is a working Port. Read about the Life of a Cornish Deep Sea Fisherman .
Christmas Lights Newlyn like Mousehole also in West Cornwall ,and only a few miles away, has its own very impressive display of Christmas Lights, Xmas illuminations festooned along the pier- a mermaid, fishing boat, robin, candle, even a castle picked out in multi coloured lights .
The Pilchard Works was a working Museum, pilchards were processed and packed into wooden boxes for export to Europe as they have been done for over a hundred years.(Though the Museum sadly closed in 2005, you can still buy Cornish Pilchards) The famous Newlyn Fish Festival is held over August Bank Holiday each year.