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Newquay ( /Towan Blystra) is a town, civil parish, seaside resort and fishing port on the north Atlanticmarker coast of Cornwallmarker, Great Britainmarker. It is bounded to the west by the River Gannelmarker and its associated salt marsh, and in the east by the Porth Valley. The town has been expanding inland (south) since it was founded. In 2001 the census recorded a permanent population of 19,423.


Prehistoric period

There are some pre-historic burial mounds and an embankment on the area now known as The Barrowfields. There were once up to fifteen barrows, but now only a few remain. Excavations here have revealed charred cooking pots and a coarse pottery burial urn containing remains of a Bronze Age chieftain, who was buried here up to 3500 years ago.In 1987 evidence of a Bronze Age village was found at Trethellan Farm, a site that overlooks the River Gannel.The first signs of settlement in the Newquay area consist of a late Iron Age hill fort/industrial centre which exploited the nearby abundant resources (including deposits of iron) and the superior natural defences provided by Trevelgue Head. It is claimed that occupation of the site was continuous from the 3rd century BC to the 5th or 6th century AD (a Dark Ages house was later built on the head).

Medieval period

The curve of the headland around what is now Newquay Harbour provided natural protection from bad weather and a small fishing village grew up in the area. When the village was first occupied is unknown but it is not mentioned in the Domesday Book although a local house (now a bar known as "Trenninick Tavern") is included. By the 15th century the village was called "Towan Blystra" — "Towan" means sand hill/dune in Cornish — but the anchorage was exposed to winds from the north east and in 1439 the local burgesses applied to Edmund Lacey, Bishop of Exeter for leave and funds to build a "New quay" from which the town derives its current name.

Modern period

The first national British census of 1801 recorded around 1300 inhabitants in the settlement (enumerated as a village under St Columb Minormarker parish). Newquay parish was created in 1882

After the arrival of passenger trains in 1876, the former fishing village started to grow. Several major hotels were built around the turn of the 19th century, including the Victoria (in East Street), the Atlantic and the Headlandmarker.

Growth of the town eastwards soon reached the area around the railway station: Station Road became Cliff Road around 1930, and the houses beyond, along Narrowcliff, were also converted into hotels. Narrowcliff was first known as Narrowcliff Promenade, and then Narrowcliff Road. On some pre-war maps it is spelt Narrowcliffe.

At the time of the First World War the last house at the edge of the town was a little further along present-day Narrowcliff, and in more recent times this building became the Garth Hotel. Post-war development saw new houses and streets built in the Chester Road area, accompanied by ribbon development along the country lane which led to St Columb Minor, some 3 km away. This thoroughfare was modernised and named Henver Road, also some time in the 1930s. Development continued in this direction until World War 2, by which time much of Henver Road had houses on both sides, with considerably infilling also taking place between there and the sea.

It was not until the early 1950s that the last houses were built along Henver Road itself: after that, there was a virtually continuous building line on both sides of the main road from the other side of St Columb Minor right into the town centre. The Doublestiles estate to the north of Henver Road was also built in the early 1950s, as the name of Coronation Way indicates, and further development continued beyond, becoming the Lewarne Estate and extending the built up area to the edges of Porth.

Other areas also developed in the period between the wars were Pentire (known for a time as West Newquay) and the Trenance Valley. Other streets dating from the 1920s included St Thomas Road, which provided the approach to the town's new Cottage Hospital at its far end, to be followed by others in the same area near the station, such as Pargolla Road.

Up to the early 20th century, the small fishing port was famous for pilchards and there is a "Huer's Hut" above the harbour from which a lookout would cry "Heva!" to call out the fishing fleet when pilchard shoals were spotted. The town's present insignia is two pilchards. The real pilchards have long gone, but a small number of boats still catch the local edible crabs and lobsters.

More recent development has been on a larger scale: until the late 1960s a passenger arriving by train would not have seen a building by the line (with the exception of Trencreek village) until the Trenance Viaduct was reached. Today, the urban area starts a good 2 km inland from the viaduct. Other growth areas have been on the fringes of St Columb Minor and also towards the Gannel. More development beyond Treninnick, south of the Trenance Valley. has taken the urban area out as far as Lane, where more building is proposed. The Trennnick/Treloggan development, mainly in the 1970s and 1980s, included not merely housing but also an industrial estate and several large commercial outlets, including a major supermarket and a cash and carry warehouse.

New plans include further substantial development inland, which if allowed would extend the urban area towards Chapel. Places like Trencreek, Porth and St Columb Minor have long since become suburbs of Newquay: it is possible that by the 2030s, should present development trends continue, the edges of the town could be approaching and perhaps encompass Quintrell Downs, 5 km from the town centre. The development plan for Newquay Cornwall International Airport includes substantial additions around the airport, including a proposed business park as well as industry related to aviation.


Newquay St. Michael's, a large church in the Cornish style designed by Sir Ninian Comper, was built in 1911. It was destroyed by an arson attack on 29 June 1993 but has since been reopened.Most of Newquay was in earlier times part of the parish of St Columb Minormarker.


Newquay has been a major tourist destination for more than a century now, principally on account of its beautiful coastline and ten long and accessible sandy beaches. These include the famous Fistral, which could claim to the best-known surfing beach in the British Isles. Perhaps 22,000 people live in Newquay, but the population can increase to 100,000 or more in the summer because Newquay has a large stock of holiday accommodation. The town is rather larger, therefore, than the size of its resident population might suggest.

Newquay has even been referred to as the "Blackpool of the West Country", but although it is undoubtedly an entertainment town some substantial differences remain between Lancashire and Cornwall.
An easterly view over Newquay Harbour with some of the surfing beaches in the background

Established in sections throughout the 20th century, Trenance Leisure Gardens are sited in a wooded, formerly marshy valley on the quieter edge of Newquay, stretching down to the Gannel Estuary. From the Edwardian era it provided recreation for tourists with walks, tennis courts and a bowling green, all still popular today. In the gardens, which are spanned by the arches of the stone railway viaduct, visitors have long been able to enjoy a stroll through the beautiful Trenance Gardens with their mature trees and heritage cottages, leading to the Boating lake. This was dug during the depression of the 1930s as a work creation scheme. In the late 1960s, further enterprises were established by the council, including mini-golf, a swimming pool, the "Little Western" miniature railway and Newquay Zoomarker, which opened in 1969.

An interactive map of Newquay launched in 2009 features a self guided walking tour, focusing on local history, heritage, wildlife and public transport links - available in print form and online: see external links.

Newquay is also known for the "Run to the Sun" event, which always takes place during the public holiday on the last weekend in May at Trevelgue Holiday Park. Multitudes of people descend on the town in Volkswagen camper vans, Beetles and other custom cars.

The 1013 km (630miles) South West Coast Path runs through the town.


Fistal Beach north
The resort styles itself "The Surfing Capital of Britain". Newquay is firmly established as the centre of the surf industry in Britain with many surf stores, board manufacturers and hire shops in the town.

At the centre of Newquay's surfing status is Fistral Beachmarker which has a reputation as one of the best beach breaks in Cornwall. Fistral is capable of producing powerful, hollow waves and holding a good sized swell. It even has the bonus of being sheltered enough and sufficiently north-facing in places that it can get away with a south westerly wind.Fistral Beach has been host to international surfing competitions for around 20 years now, most recently the Rip Curl Boardmasters..

Newquay is also home to the legendary big wave sport, The Cribbarmarker. Breaking at up to 20 ft, the Cribbar was until recently rarely surfed as it requires no wind and huge swell to break. It was first surfed in 1967 by Jack Lydgate, Bob Head and Rod Sumpter. The recent explosion in interest in surfing large waves has seen it surfed more frequently, most notably by South African born Chris Bertish who during a succession of huge clean swells in 2004 surfed the biggest wave ever seen there..

Towan, Great Western and Tolcarne beaches nearer the town and nearby Crantockmarker and Watergate Baymarker also provide high quality breaks. Towan Beach is also the location for the proposed Newquay Surfing Reef, a controversial project which has caused a fierce local debate.

Night life

Newquay is well known for its lively nightlife. Nightclubs such as Berties, Sailor's and the newly opened Pure attract well known DJs. The influx of summer party-goers has regularly caused controversy in recent years, often because of the frequency of Stag and Hen parties.

Hospital and emergency services

Devon and Cornwall Constabulary maintains a substantial police station in Tolcarne Road, and the Major Crime Investigation Team for Cornwall works from there. The modern day-staffed fire station in Tregunnel Hill is run by Cornwall County Fire Brigade, and is the home of one of the two aerial ladder platforms based in Cornwall. Ambulance cover is provided by the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust from an Ambulance Station in St Thomas Road. Newquay Hospital is also at the end of St Thomas Road, and is a local hospital catering for both in- and outpatients. The nearest General Hospital is in Truro. Proposals in recent years for the Newquay Growth Area, east of the present town, have included a new and larger hospital.



Newquay railway stationmarker is the terminus of the Atlantic Coast Line from Parmarker. The railway was originally built as a mineral line in the 1840s to provide a link with the harbour. A passenger service followed on 20 June 1876, and from then on the town developed quickly as a resort. The station is close to the beaches on the east side of the town centre.

Newquay handles intercity trains throughout the summer, which include a daily service to and from London in July and August and also further through trains to London, the Midlands and North on Saturdays and Sundays between May and September. It is the only branch line terminus in Britain still handling scheduled intercity trains.

Two of the three former platforms were taken out of use in 1987, but Network Rail had planned to restore one of the disused platforms to improve capacity. However, the latest draft Route Utilisation Study for the Great Western routes, published in September 2009 , makes no mention of this. Instead it favours a restored crossing place (a short section of double track where trains can pass) at St Columb Road. This will depend on the progress with developing a proposed eco-town in the China Clay area, much of which lies near the line.

An active local user group is campaigning for the line to be upgraded, not merely with at least one additional platform to be provided at Newquay, but also for passenger trains to run from St Dennis Junction (near St Columb Road) to Burngullow, on the Cornish Main Line west of St Austell. This would require the restoration of several kilometres of track, and also the improvement of a china clay line which still operates between Parkandillack and Burngullow. This route was proposed in 1987 as a possible replacement for the line to Par, much of which could then have been closed. However, although the British Railways Board obtained the necessary legal powers, the plan was not carried out.


The goods line which developed into the Newquay and Cornwall Junction Railway was opened in 1846 from inland clay mines to the harbour, worked by horses. Parts of the old line from the present station to the harbour are still in existence: the most obvious section is a broad footpath from opposite the station in Cliff Road to East Street, known locally as the "tram track", and complete with a very railway-style overbridge. From East Street, the line continued towards the harbour along the present-day Manor Road.

The last trains ran through to Newquay Harbour in about 1924, but general goods traffic continued to reach Newquay station until 1964. The goods yard then closed as part of much wider changes on British Railways. However, the passenger station and its approaches were enlarged more than once, with additional carriage sidings being built at Newquay in the 1930s. The originally wooden viaduct just outside the station, which crosses the Trenance Valley, was rebuilt in 1874 to allow locomotives to run over the structure and then again after World War 2 to carry double track, which extended until 1964 for approximately 1.5 km to Tolcarn Junction. The line is now single throughout again, but the width of the viaduct is still obvious.

Tolcarn Junction itself was the point where a second passenger route diverged from the Par line between 1906 and 1963. This branch ran to Chacewater, west of Truro, via Perranporth and St Agnes, and provided through trains to Truro and Falmouth.

The surviving branch line from Par, which includes other viaducts—mainly in the Luxulyan Valley—and also numerous level crossings, still brings many visitors each year from the junction at Par (on the Cornish Main Line) to Newquay. From the 1890s until 1947 the branch was owned by the Great Western Railway, then becoming part of British Railways Western Region until the late 1980s, when it was transferred to the Provincial sector of BR. This sector was renamed Regional Railways at the start of the 1990s.

After BR passenger services were franchised in 1996 and 1997, the line was operated by Wales and West (originally South Wales and West) from October 1996. W&W was a franchise owned by Prism Rail, but Prism did not stay the course: it was taken over by National Express in early 2001 and the W&W franchise was then divided, its south west of England area becoming Wessex Trains. This situation lasted until April 2006, when the Wessex franchise was absorbed by the new Greater Western contract, which is owned by FirstGroup and branded First Great Western. Thus, the wheel has largely come full circle since 1948: Newquay is now a Great Western station once again.


Newquay airport terminal
Newquay Cornwall Airportmarker provides links to many other parts of the United Kingdom. It is an HM Customs port, because it also handles increasing numbers of foreign flights, both scheduled and chartered. Newquay (NQY) is the principal airport for Cornwall, although there are several minor airfields elsewhere in the county and a Heliport at Penzancemarker for Isles of Scilly traffic.

Until 2008, Newquay Civil Airport (as it was formerly known) used the runway and other facilities of RAF St Mawganmarker, but in December 2008 the Ministry of Defence handed over most of the site to the recently formed Cornwall Airport Limited. The first stage of the conversion into a fully commercial airport is now complete, although further substantial development is planned.The handover, which should have taken place at the start of December 2008, was delayed for almost three weeks because of problems in obtaining the essential Civil Aviation Authority licence, which was withheld until further work had been carried out. The airport was forced to close for the first three weeks of December, as the RAF declined to stay any longer. It reopened on 20 December, but airline Ryanair protested at the problems and did not restore its flights to Newquay until 2009. Altogether, Newquay Cornwall Airport now offers more than twenty routes.

Private jets, charters and helicopters operate at nearby Perranporthmarker Airfield.


National Express runs coaches from various parts of Great Britain to Newquay. Newquay has a good local bus network: the principal operator is Western Greyhound [10277], but some services are provided by FirstGroup and Summercourt Travel. The bus station is in Manor Road, which runs parallel to the main shopping area of Bank Street.


Newquay has one higher education campus, Cornwall College Newquay, which is a member of the Combined Universities in Cornwall Partnership. [10278]. It offers foundation degree courses in Zoological Conservation, Marine Aquaculture, Animal Science and Wildlife Education and Media. Appropriately, the campus is close to Newquay Zoo in the Trenance Valley. There are also two secondary schools: Newquay Tretherras Schoolmarker [10279] is a state-funded specialist technology college and Treviglas Collegemarker[10280] is a specialist business college not far from St Columb Minor.

World War II

Among many schools evacuated to Cornwall (notably Benendenmarker girls school), 240 boys and 20 masters of Gresham's Schoolmarker were evacuated to the town from Holtmarker, Norfolk, during the Second World War, between June 1940 and March 1944.

Well-known people associated with Newquay

Newquay in films


See also


External links

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