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Cornish: Lulyn
Newlyn is located in Cornwall
 Newlyn shown within Cornwall
OS grid reference
Civil parish Penzance
Unitary authority Cornwall
Ceremonial county Cornwall
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town PENZANCE
Postcode district TR18
Dialling code 01736
Police Devon and Cornwall
Fire Cornwall
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament St Ives
List of places

Newlyn (Cornish: Lulyn: Lu 'fleet', Lynn/Lydn 'pool') is a seaside town and fishing port in southwest Cornwall, England.[1]

Newlyn lies on the shore of mounts bay and forms a conurbation with the neighbouring town of Penzance and is part of Penzance civil parish, and is the southernmost town on the British mainland (though not the most southerly settlement). The principal industry in Newlyn is fishing, although there are also a wide variety of yachts and pleasure boats, in the harbour, as Newlyn is becoming an increasingly popular holiday destination, with many pubs and restaurants. Although the parish is now listed under Penzance there is an electoral ward in separate existence called Newlyn and Mousehole. The population at the 2011 census was 4,432.[2]


  • Toponymy 1
  • History 2
    • Earlier history 2.1
    • Newlyn and the Cornish language 2.2
    • Modern history 2.3
    • Local government 2.4
  • Geography 3
  • Economy 4
  • Food and music festival 5
  • Notable landmarks 6
  • Local government 7
  • Notable residents 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


The settlement is recorded as Nulyn in 1279 and as Lulyn in 1290, and the name is thought to be derived from the Cornish for "pool for a fleet of boats" which is thought to refer to the shallows offshore also called Gwavas Lake, traditionally the principal mooring for the fishing fleet in the area.[3]


Before the rise of Newlyn as an important settlement the landing rights and most property within the Newlyn area were owned by the Manor of Alverton. Newlyn's history has been strongly linked to its role as a major fishing port. The natural protection afforded by the Gwavas Lake (an area of seawater in Mount's Bay) led to many local fishermen using this area as a preferred landing site.[4]

Before the 19th century, "Newlyn" referred only to the area near the old quay. The part of the village that now contains the fish market was known as "Streetanowan", this was separated at high tide from "Newlyn Town" the site of the lower part of the modern harbour being reclaimed land and formerly a beach. In fact Newlyn comprises three discrete hamlets all previously separated by bodies of water, being Tolcarne (Tal Carn: Brow of the Rocks), Street-an-Nowan (Steet-an-Awan: River Street) and Trewarveneth (Farm/Manor on the Hill).[5]

Newlyn (like Mousehole) was part of the ancient parish of Paul. It was common for villagers to climb the relatively steep route from "Newlyn Cliff" to Paul via the area which is now known as Gwavas to worship at Paul Church. Until the mid-20th century an ancient stone cross was present on this route at "Park an Grouse" (The Field of the Cross), this cross was one site of veneration of the Cornish sea deity Bucca, (others were the beaches of Newlyn and Mousehole) the name 'Bucca' has often been used as a nickname for people resident in Newlyn: the location of the cross is now unknown.[6]

In 1851 Newlyn became the separate ecclesiastical parish of Newlyn St Peter.[7]

Earlier history

The Spanish Raid of 1595 destroyed Penzance, Mousehole and Paul as well as Newlyn.

In 1620 the Mayflower stopped off at Newlyn old quay to take on water.[8] A plaque on the quay reads:

To the memory of Bill Best Harris 1914 – 1987 Historian and son of Plymouth whose researches indicated that the MAYFLOWER 16 – 8 – 1620 docked at the Old Quay Newlyn for water and supplies making it the last port of call in England  The water supply at Plymouth being the cause of fever and cholera in the city  Let debate begin[9]

In 1755, the Lisbon earthquake caused a tsunami to strike the Cornish coast more than 600 miles (970 km) away. The sea rose ten feet in ten minutes at Newlyn, and ebbed at the same rate. The 19th century French writer, Arnold Boscowitz, claimed that "great loss of life and property occurred upon the coasts of Cornwall".[10]

Newlyn and the Cornish language

Newlyn, along with nearby Henry Jenner who all collected Cornish writings or sayings, and the latter two became proficient in its use.

Modern history

In the 1880s a number of artists flocked to the town and formed an artists' colony.[13] The painters of Newlyn came to be known as the Newlyn School.

In 1896 Newlyn was the scene of the Newlyn riots following protests over the landing of fish on a Sunday by fishermen from the North of England, the local Cornish fishermen being members of the Methodist church and as such strong supporters of sabbatarianism.

A map of the town from 1946 showing the tidal observatory

In 1915, the Ordnance Survey tidal observatory was established in the harbour and for the next six years measurements of tidal height were taken every 15 minutes.[14]

In 1937, the fishing vessel Rosebud sailed to London to deliver a petition to the Minister of Health on behalf of those villagers whose homes were threatened under the government's slum clearance scheme.

During the Second World War Newlyn was a base for the Air Sea Rescue craft covering the Western Approaches. The harbour was bombed during the war, hitting the collier Greenhithe, which was beached in the harbour at the time and supplied coal to the east coast drifters, which travelled to Newlyn during the mackerel fishing season between the wars.[15] Reporting the event on the "Germany Calling" propaganda broadcast Lord Haw-Haw announced that the Luftwaffe had sunk a British cruiser in Newlyn Harbour.

In 2014 indie band the Hit Parade released Cornish Pop Songs, an album containing several songs about Newlyn including "Rainy Day in Newlyn" and "The Ghost of the Fishing Fleet".[16]

Local government

In 1894 Newlyn became part of Paul Urban District. The urban district was abolished in 1934 and Newlyn was absorbed into the municipal borough of Penzance.[17] Penzance Municipal Borough was itself abolished in 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, and Newlyn became part of the new Penwith District. The former borough was unparished until 1980. The unparished area was formed into a civil parish in 1980,[18] and the new Penzance parish council elected to call itself a town council. Penwith District was abolished in 2009, and Newlyn now falls under the unitary Cornwall Council.


Newlyn is located in southern Cornwall, just south of Penzance. It lies along the B3315 road which connects it to Land's End. Gwavas is a residential council estate on the outskirts of the village.[19] Paul and Mousehole lie to the south.

The Ordnance Survey, the United Kingdom's mapping agency, used to base all elevations including mapped contour lines and spot heights on the mean sea level at Newlyn defined by this benchmark (see Ordnance Datum Newlyn).[20] The mean sea level data was calculated from hourly readings of the sea level between 1 May 1915 and 30 April 1921.[20]


Newlyn's economy is largely dependent on its harbour and the associated fishing industry; Newlyn Harbour is the largest fishing port in England.[21] The port was a major catcher of pilchard until the 1960s. Today, a few vessels have resumed pilchard fishing and use a modern version of the ring net. The largest vessels are beam trawlers owned by W. Stevenson and Sons Ltd, one of Cornwall's largest fish producers;[22] most of the other vessels are owned by their skippers. The company based in the Old Pilchard Works today are major supplies of Cornish sardines and mixed species fish.[21]

Food and music festival

Newlyn is home to the Newlyn fish festival [23] which hosts live music, cooking demonstrations, and various marquees selling local produce.

Notable landmarks

The UK National Tidal and Sea Level Facility (NTSLF) maintains a tidal observatory at Newlyn, and the UK Fundamental Benchmark is maintained there.[24]

Newlyn was made famous in the 1880s and 1890s for its Newlyn School artists' colony, including the painters Thomas Cooper Gotch, Albert Chevallier Tayler and Henry Scott Tuke. The current largest collection of work by the Newlyn School is held by Penlee House Gallery and Museum in nearby Penzance. A collection of Newlyn Copper, produced from circa 1890 – 1920, is on view at Penlee House. Newlyn is the home of Newlyn Art Gallery [1] which houses a collection of modern art.

Local government

For the purposes of local government, Newlyn is part of the Penzance Civil Parish and returns five councillors to Penzance Town Council. The principal local authority in the area is Cornwall Council.

Notable residents

See also


  1. ^ Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 203 Land's End ISBN 978-0-319-23148-7
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Morrab Library Archives
  6. ^
  7. ^ Genuki website: Paul
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Ellis, P. Berresford (1974) The Cornish Language and its Literature. London: Routledge; pp. 92, 108–11
  12. ^ See Dolly Pentreath's memorial at Paul.
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Vision of Britain website: Paul UD
  18. ^
  19. ^ [2] Cornwall Council online mapping. Retrieved June 2010
  20. ^ a b
  21. ^ a b
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ [3] National Tidal and Sea Level Facility website. Retrieved June 2010

External links

  • Information on the regeneration of Newlyn Harbour and connected organisations
  • Information on the contemporary Newlyn School of Art an Arts Council funded not for profit organisation
  • Newlyn at DMOZ
  • NTSLF page about the Newlyn Tidal Observatory and the Fundamental Benchmark
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