A working harbour since the 15th century, the cliffs once resounded with the cry of ‘hevva, hevva’ as the huer, watching for shoals of pilchards, alerted the townsfolk to launch the fleet and land the catch.
Locals later built luggers to pursue pilchards with nets, which led to the arrival of fish merchants in the port.
With the emergence of the railway in the 19th century, fishermen exported mackerel throughout the country. Newlyn enjoyed great prosperity and gained renown for possessing one of the world’s finest fleets.
This century also saw the extraction of copper from Penlee Quarry. As poor weather and seasonal fluctuations brought enforced periods of inactivity, local fishermen were trained to create domestic and decorative copperware – now highly prized by collectors – as an alternative source of income.
An influential colony of artists, founded by Walter Langley and Stanhope Forbes, was drawn to the port by its quality of light and the opportunity to depict the harsh realities of its hardworking fishing community. The Newlyn School’s ‘en plein air’ style raised the port’s profile and led to the establishment of Newlyn Art Gallery.
Today, fishing, copper and art are as important to Newlyn’s future as they were to its illustrious past.
A 21st century Fish Market provides its fishing fleet with fit-for-purpose facilities; award-winning chef, Ben Tunnicliffe serves up sumptuous seafood from The Tolcarne Inn, and the Newlyn Fish Festival attracts thousands of visitors.
The UK’s finest artisan coppersmith, Michael Johnson, has re-established the production of bespoke copperware in Newlyn.
The Newlyn Filmhouse screens the latest releases and arthouse movies; Newlyn Art Gallery exhibits cutting edge contemporary art, and Newlyn School of Art offers inspiring courses and painting holidays.
With its authentic charm and ambitious spirit, Newlyn is well worth a visit.