WEST Cornwall has some of the most famous landmarks in Britain, never mind Cornwall.
It is home to the iconic St Michael’s Mount, the clifftop engine houses of the St Just mining district, the extraordinary Minack Theatre and its backdrop of the sparkling Atlantic – and more.
The A30 takes you west to the mining towns of Redruth, Camborne and Hayle, each well worth a visit in its own right.
Redruth is home to one of the jewels of Cornwall – the Cornish Studies Centre. Here there’s a massive archive of Cornish history and it’s an essential visit for anybody with Cornish roots.
The former Redruth Brewery site, a massive industrial complex, is in the middle of being transformed into Kresen Kernow, a new heritage centre for the county which will combine the Studies Centre and the huge archives of the Cornwall Record Office in Truro.
The general visitor will find the landmark statue of a Cornish miner welcoming them to a place of artisans and antiques: the Krowji centre houses a collective of skilled Cornish craftsmen and women working in a variety of disciplines.
Camborne was just a village until transformed by the mining boom which began in the late 18th century and saw the Camborne and Redruth district become the richest mining area in the world. Although a considerable number of ruinous stacks and engine houses remain, they cannot begin to convey the scenes of 150 years ago when scores of mines transfigured the landscape.
The last working tin mine in Europe, South Crofty, which closed in 1998 is nearby and can be visited.
Camborne was home to the world’s first self-propelled passenger carrying vehicle, which ran up and down Camborne Hill on Christmas Eve 1801 – the steam-
GALLERY & MUSEUM Morrab Road, Penzance TR18 4HE
powered creation, known as the Puffing Devil, was the creation of the town’s engineer Richard Trevithick, in whose honour a special day of steam power is held each April.
Hayle, dominated by its stunning railway viaduct, is another town with a fascinating industrial past. Among the Towans, or sand dunes, the National Explosives works employed more than 1,500 people during the First World War.
Now the dunes are home to three miles of golden sandy beaches, and there’s plenty of holiday accommodation nearby to help people enjoy the sands.
Nearby Gwithian beach, near Godrevy, is not only picturesque but is also a watersports centre for surfing, windsurfing and body- boarding.
The mood changes as you head further west.
St Ives, perhaps Cornwall’s most famous seaside town, is also the county’s artistic capital, home to
Tate St Ives and its unrivalled collection of modern art. The town’s historic, winding streets contain many galleries and studios, all supported by a vibrant restaurant culture.
The Tate oversees the Barbara Hepworth Museum and sculpture garden in tribute to one of the most famous members of the St Ives artists’ colony which sprang up between the wars. You can also find Bernard Leach’s pottery in the town.
St Ives is served by the third of the marvellous railway branch lines you can enjoy in Cornwall, winding along the cliffs and coast from St Erth, where it joins the main line.
You’ll find four beaches, including the surfers’ favourite, Porthmeor.
On the wild West Penwith Moors to the west of St Ives are scattered mysterious and atmospheric remnants of prehistoric life in Cornwall. It’s no surprise that this area is rich in myth and legend – tales such as that of the Mermaid of Zennor.
*Free entry for local residents with a Penzance Pass www.cornish-visitor.co.uk
Art Gallery / Local History / Café / Shop / Residents’ Pass* Open Mondays to Saturdays / www.penleehouse.org.uk
Penlee House is owned and operated by Penzance Town Council
Land’s End Cornish Visitor Guide - Spring 2017 31
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