1800 AD to date


William Lovett, noted Chartist, is born at Newlyn. He migrates to London in 1821 where he becomes a formidable spokesman on behalf of the deprived.

A canal from Hayle to Carwinnen bridge near Camborne via Angarrack is proposed but not built.

The Cornwall Gazette and Falmouth Packet newspaper commences publication in Truro. It becomes the Royal Cornwall Gazette in 1803 and continues until 1951. At this point it is incorporated into The West Briton.

(28th December) Richard Trevithick, born in 1771 at Illogan, runs the first road-going locomotive in Camborne.

Richard Trevithick runs his road locomotive from Leather Lane, London - to Islington and back.

Richard Trevithick invents a high pressure steam dredge.

Rev. Robert Stephen Hawker, the noted vicar of Morwenstow, is born in Plymouth. Famed as a poet, and particularly for The Song of the Western Men ("Trelawny"). He is remembered for:

  • risking his life to help shipwrecked mariners
  • supporting his impoverished parishioners, and
  • reviving harvest-time festivals

He dies in 1875. His cliff-top hut is a National Trust property.

Richard Lemon Lander (who afterwards discovered the River Niger) is born at the Fighting Cocks Inn, Truro.

(February) - Richard Trevithick runs his railway locomotive at Penydarren in Wales.

Perranzabuloe's church of St Piran, the third church of the parish, is erected in a new location at Lambourne, with material from the earlier

John Opie (1761 - 1807) of St Agnes, becomes Professor in Painting to the Royal Academy.

Glynn House, near Bodmin Parkway (formerly Bodmin Road) Station is rebuilt.

Caerhayes Castle, designed by John Nash for J B Trevanion, is erected in St. Michael Caerhays parish.

The wreck of the frigate, "HMS Anson" is witnessed by Henry Trengrouse, the Helston cabinet-maker. The terrible loss of life spurs him on to devise at his own expense a line-throwing apparatus to be propelled across any stricken vessel by a rocket. His successful experiments in 1816 pave the way for saving the lives of thousands of seamen. Like Richard Trevithick before him, he dies in poverty in 1854.

Ordnance Survey's first mapping of Cornwall. It is published at 1" scale in 1813.

The first rails are laid for the Poldice Tramway to serve the St. Day mines. These provide a horse-drawn rail link for goods and minerals to the port of Portreath. It falls into disuse in the 1850s.

The West Briton newspaper commences publication at Truro

Work is re-started at Great Wheal Vor near Tregoning Hill. By 1820 it employs over 500 men underground. In the 1860s it is described as 'probably the richest tin mine in the world' by the Mining Journal. It closes in 1877, although part of the sett sees limited working at the end of the 19th century.

Refined soap is invented by William Pears of Mevagissey.

Henry Martyn, born in Truro in 1781, dies alone in Tokat, having devoted his life to missionary work in India and Persia.

The Cornwall Central School is founded in Fairmantle Street, Truro. It is Cornwall's first Anglican elementary school. It trains men and women teachers and, with a move to Agar Road, evolves into the Truro Training College which closes in 1938.

The Royal Geological Society of Cornwall was formed in Penzance on February 14th.

Ding Dong Mine in west Penwith is restarted and continues until 1878. Tradition says it was working in Roman times.

The "Queen" transport ship is wrecked in Falmouth and 195 soldiers drown.

The miners' safety lamp is devised by Sir Humphry Davy. Born at Penzance in 1778 he is most well known in Cornwall for the invention of the aforementioned safety lamp. Davy was also a pioneering chemist. Among his many outstanding achievements was the discovery of several new elements. This was largely through his innovative use of the then novel phenomenon - electricity.

(20th October) Richard Trevithick goes to Peru - to superintend the Silver Mines on the Cerro de Pasco mountains, Lima and erect his engines. He returns on 9th Oct in 1827.

Sir Charles Hawkins commences building the harbour at Pentewan for the shipment of china-clay. It is the first china-clay port to be linked by rail - a horse tramway - to its hinterland.

The Royal Institution and Museum, situated in Pydar Street, is founded

Torpoint's chapel-of-ease, dedicated to St. James the Great, is erected. Its north and south galleries are removed in the 1930s.

Tresavean Mine, near Lanner, worked through much of the 18th century, is said to have already produced over £1,500,000-worth of copper ore. In the 1830s it is for a while the third largest copper producer in Cornwall, employing over 1300 people. By 1860 another £1,500,000-worth of ore has been sold. Working finally ends in 1927.

From 1819 to 1840 the Consolidated Mines of Gwennap are the richest of all the Cornish copper mines. For many years they were the richest of the whole world. They were previously worked as a number of smaller concerns from the 1750s.  Ores to the value of £2,250,000 are sold. By 1838 63 miles of underground workings have been driven and the mine employs 2000 persons.

The Basset Mines near Redruth become important producers of copper from now on, and later of tin. By 1879 the concern employs 550 men.

Silas E Martin of Crantock proposes a canal from Newquay to Retyn near St Enoder. This is to serve the then-prospering East Wheal Rose lead and silver mine and carry sea-sand for the land. John Edgcumbe carried out a survey but no action was then taken.

(November) Scilly Isles experience very heavy gales, which cause the loss of roofs and chimneys.

J Passmore Edwards of Blackwater near St. Agnes, journalist and philanthropist, is born. He goes on to amass his fortune as a publisher. He devotes his resources to helping the public library and cottage hospitals movements in particular. He realises his aim of establishing a library for every one of the 19 letters in his name for instance at:
  • Penzance
  • St. Ives
  • Camborne
  • Redruth
  • Truro
  • Falmouth, and
  • Bodmin

He also establishes village Institutes to help the education of the miners, for example at:

  • Blackwater
  • St Agnes and
  • Chacewater

Cottage hospitals he established include Liskeard and Perranporth. Most of his interests were in Cornwall but several were also established in London.

Porthleven Harbour is completed after fifteen years of difficulties during the construction

The Treffry Viaduct, 700 feet long and nearly 100 feet high, situated in the Luxulyan Valley, is built by J T Treffry.

Redruth and Chacewater Railway (for goods and minerals) opens, running from Wheal Buller to Devoran, with a branch to Redruth. It closes in 1915.

Penwerris St Michael's church at Falmouth is erected, and is made parochial in 1848.

Liskeard and Looe Canel opens.

St. Paul's church at Chacewater is erected, and is later repaired in 1886 following a lightning strike. Except for the tower, it is completely rebuilt in 1892 to the design of Edmund Sedding. Nearby St. Day church is built (see photo). Its original galleries are removed in 1930 and it was condemned in 1956 as unsafe and closed. A preservation scheme of the 1990s sees it reopen as stabilised ruin with a historical display.

In west Penwith, Morvah church, dedicated to St Bridget of Sweden is constructed.







The Falmouth Packet and Cornish Herald newspaper commences publication in Falmouth. Publication continues until 1848.

The St. Austell to Pentewan Railway (for goods and minerals) opens. It closes in 1918.

Sir Goldsworthy Gurney journeys from London to Bath and back in his steam carriage. Born in 1793 at Treator, near Padstow, he devises a steam jet, which is applied to boats and carriages in 1824.

The Great Migration of the Cornish begins in earnest and continues into the next century.

Richard and John Lander (born in Truro in 1804 and 1806 respectively) go out to Africa to discover the course of the Niger. They become the first to find its source in November 1830. They return home in June 1831.





St. Martin-in-Meneage church is erected, with the 15th century tower of an older building remaining.

William Bickford (born in Devonshire in 1744) who is a leather merchant in Tuckingmill (nr. Camborne) devised and patented the Safety Fuse - in doing so, he saves countless miners and quarry workers from death.


Richard Lander returns to Africa and dies of gunshot wounds at Fernando Po.

St. Anne' church at Hessenford, near Looe, is built. It is rebuilt in 1871 to a design by G E Street.

Brenton Symons AICI is born at Rosehill, Gwennap. He is educated at Truro Grammar School and becomes a:

  • noted lithographer
  • assayer
  • draughtsman and
  • mineralogist

He is Civil Engineer of the Chontales Mining Co., Central America, 1866-68. He becomes Managing Director of the Servian Copper Mining and Smelting Co, 1871. He publishes maps of Falmouth, the Redruth Mining District and the Bodmin and Liskeard District.

Since 1823 Gwennap has produced 30.1% of the total production of Great Britain's copper, and 37.7% of the Cornwall total.

(22nd April) Richard Trevithick dies.

The Cornish Polytechnic Society in Falmouth is founded by 'the exertions of some ladies, among the most active of whom were the Misses Fox . . ' (reports RCPS, 1864). It was the first society to describe itself as 'polytechnic' and Miss Caroline Fox, (1820-1871), then aged 13, is credited with the idea.

Webb's Hotel, one of the finest in Cornwall, is built in the Parade at Liskeard.

Scilly becomes the first place in Britain to have compulsory education.

Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway opens to carry sea-sand to farming districts for soil improvement.

St Mary's church at Hugh Town, Isles of Scilly, is begun at the instigation of William IV. Penzance's church of St Mary-the-Virgin is designed by Charles Hutchins. It is built on the site of the ancient chapel on the headland which gives the town its name. It is made parochial in 1871. Severely damaged by an arson attack on 23rd March 1985 it is restored.

The church of St Michael, Bude Haven, is built to the designs of architect, George Wightwick.

The West Briton joins the campaign against "oppressive" royal taxation in Cornwall and miners rally in London to protest.

90ft high monument is erected on Carn Brea to the memory of Francis Lord de Dunstanville and Basset of Tehidy






St. Mary's Church in Penzance is built to the design of Charles Hutchins of St Buryan, who also designed St. Day church (1828), now a preserved ruin.







The Hayle Railway opens primarily as a mineral transport route for the Camborne and Redruth mines to the ports of Hayle and Portreath. It is the first passenger-carrying line in West Cornwall.


The earliest known published reference to the Cornish Banner - the Cross of St. Piran.

The Redruth Union Workhouse at Barncoose, Illogan is constructed to the design of George Gilbert Scott. Its remaining buildings now form part of the Camborne-Redruth Community Hospital.

China-clay production increases to around 13,000 tons a year from approximately 2,000 tons in the 1820s

The Penzance Gazette newspaper commences publication. It becomes the Penzance and Cornwall Gazette in 1855. Publication continues until 1858.

The Liskeard Union Workhouse is constructed, designed by John Foulston of Plymouth. It later becomes the Lamellion Hospital.

A chapel-of-ease for Liskeard parish is erected at Dobwalls.

Since 1823 Great Britain has produced 231,163 tons of copper, of which 198,200 tons, or 82.6%, have come from Cornwall

Significant emigration to Mexico and the Real del Monte silver mines. Also to the iron mines of Lake Huron in Canada. In the 1840's and 1850's emigration to the Wisconsin lead mines in America and to Australia. This followed the discovery of copper at Kapunda and Burra Burra and later Wallaroo and Moonta.

Treslothan church, near Camborne is erected to a design by George Wightwick. It serves as the chapel to Pendarves House and is dedicated to St John the Evangelist.

Children's Employment Commission publishes a report by Dr. Charles Barham (of Truro). The report examines the employment of children and young persons in the mines of Cornwall and Devon.

Completion at Luxulyan of the 100 feet high viaduct-cum-aquaduct. It serves Joseph Thomas Treffry's mineral tramway from the china clay area around Bugle to the port of Par.

St Peter's church at Flushing, near Falmouth, is erected in a mock-Norman style. Porthleven's St Bartholomew's is also built.

All Saints Church at Tuckingmill is erected to designs by J Hayward of Exeter.

Holy Trinity church at Penponds, near Camborne, is erected.

Liskeard and Caradon Railway opens with horse power until 1862, transporting goods and minerals

John Couch Adams, born at Laneast in 1819, reported on his 1841-5 calculations re Neptune. His submission to the Astronomer Royal was put aside until 1846. At this time, calculations by the French scientist Le Verrier were verified.

(9th July) East Wheal Rose (Newlyn East) mine disaster, 39 lives lost in flooding.

Christ Church, Lanner, (a former Chapel of Ease) is consecrated as the church of the newly formed parish of Lanner. A south aisle is added in 1883. St Luke's, Tideford, near Saltash, is also erected.

The first pan-kilns for the artificial drying of Cornish china-clay are introduced at Greensplat and Parkandillick. By 1858 annual production increases to 65,600 tons from 89 active china-clay works.

A new church is built at Illogan on a new site. The 14th century tower of the old one with a ring of six bells remains nearby.

Truro St Paul's church is built as a chapel-of-ease for St. Clement. It becomes parochial in 1865.

Railway from Plymouth to Falmouth is begun

The Penzance Journal newspaper commences publication and continues until 1850.

The Church of St. Michael, designed by the architect William White, is built at Baldhu. The revivalist preacher Billy Bray is buried in the graveyard in 1868. Baldhu church is now closed - Billy Bray's memorial is left of centre.

St. Agnes Church, formerly a chapelry of Perranzabuloe, is rebuilt to the design of J P St. Aubyn.

Holy Trinity Church at Bolventor, on Bodmin Moor, is erected.


St. Paul's church, Charlestown, designed by Christopher Eales is built and consecrated in 1851. A fibreglass spire is added to the completed tower in 1971, and a peal of six bells by Taylor of Loughborough in 1972. In the same year St Mary's church at Par is erected to the design of G E Street, his first complete church.

Rhododendron arboreum specimen at Carclew, planted about now by Sir. Charles Lemon, becomes one of the most famous in Cornwall. By 1928 it is about 35 feet high.

Holy Trinity church at Carnmenellis is erected to serve the thriving mining community. In the same year Herodsfoot All Saints is constructed for similar reasons. G E Street's church at Treverbyn, St Austell, dedicated to St Peter, is also built. Eventually the church is demolished in 1970. This is due to declining population around Carnmenellis in the twentieth century.

Period of greatest mining prosperity

1850's - The greatest influx of Cornish miners to South Africa, to mine in the Namaqualand copper mines in the northern Cape.

The Census on Religious Worship showed that in Cornwall 27% are Anglicans. 60% are Methodists and the remaining are mostly non-conformists of other denominations.

The Cornish Telegraph newspaper commences publication in Penzance and continues until 1915.

Mary Kelynack, a Madron fishwife born in 1777 at Newlyn, walks alone from Cornwall to London to see the Great Exhibition.

J P St. Aubyn's design for the church of St John Baptist at Godolphin is realised. The Rev Robert Aitken's Church of St John Baptist at Pendeen is also erected by the villagers to his designs.

West Wheal Basset near Redruth is re-started and yields good quantities of copper. By the 1860s it employs over 400 men. The adjacent South Wheal Frances is successfully worked at the same time.

Wheal Sophia becomes the first Cornish mine to detonate a blasting charge with electricity. It was located near Greystone Bridge on the River Tamar 

The Newlyn 40 foot fishing boat called Mystery, sails to Australia.

St George's church in Truro, designed by Rev William Haslam, vicar of Baldhu, is erected.

Legal arguments of the Duchy of Cornwall defeat the Crown's aspirations of sovereignty of the Cornish foreshore. The Duchy argues that the Duke has sovereignty of Cornwall and not the Crown. During the same case, Parliament defines the Cornish as "aborigines".

Also on behalf of the Duchy, the following submission was made.

  1. That Cornwall, like Wales, was at the time of the Conquest, and was subsequently treated in many respects as distinct from England.
  2. That it was held by the Earls of Cornwall with the rights and prerogative of a County Palatine, as far as regarded the Seignory or territorial dominion.
  3. That the Dukes of Cornwall have from the creation of the Duchy enjoyed the rights and prerogatives of a County Palatine, as far as regarded seignory or territorial dominion, and that to a great extent by Earls.
  4. That when the Earldom was augmented into a Duchy, the circumstances attending to it's creation, as well as the language of the Duchy Charter, not only support and confirm natural presumption, that the new and higher title was to be accompanied with at least as great dignity, power, and prerogative as the Earls enjoyed, but also afforded evidence that the Duchy was to be invested with still more extensive rights and privileges.
  5. The Duchy Charters have always been construed and treated, not merley by the Courts of Judicature, but also by the Legislature of the Country, as having vested in the Dukes of Cornwall the whole territorial interest and dominion of the Crown in and over the entire County of Cornwall.

Thenceforth mineral rights above the Low Water Mark belonged to the Duchy and below it to the Crown.

The Launceston Weekly News commences publication. It continues until 1931 when it is incorporated into the Cornish and Devon Post

John Verran, who becomes Premier of South Australia in 1910, is born at Cusgarne, Gwennap. Working in the Australian mines he becomes a strong trades unionist. He is elected for Parliament in 1901, achieving leadership of the Labour Party in 1908. He dies in 1932.

The 144 feet high obelisk commemorating Lt-Gen. Sir W R Gilbert is erected at Bodmin.

The Cornish Times newspaper commences publication at Liskeard.

Lake's Falmouth Packet Newspaper commences its publication in Falmouth.

(May) The Royal Albert Bridge, Saltash is Isambard Kingdom Brunel's spectacular solution to bridging the Tamar. This is to allow the connection of the railway through Cornwall with the rest of the GWR system. 2,200 feet long and 100 feet above the water, it is officially opened on 2nd May 1859 by Prince Albert. It cost £225,000 and is opened to the public on 4th May 1859.

(Oct) Storm, said to be the worst since 1823, with numerous shipwrecks off Cornish coasts.

The East Cornwall Times newspaper commences publication in Launceston. It continues until 1877 when it is incorporated into the Cornish and Devon Post.

The St. Day Brick Works is begun at about this time by a Mr. Hawke. A large kiln is erected in 1874 and daily output is eventually 20,000 bricks per day. It closes down in 1912.

The Falmouth and Penryn Weekly Times newspaper commences publication, and continues until 1952 after a change of title in 1896 to the Cornish Echo.

Marazion's All Saints church, designed by J P St Aubyn, is built, replacing an old chapel-of-ease, which had become ruinous by 1735 and was rebuilt. In the same year St Peter's Church, Mithian is erected to a design by William White. Its spire is taken down in 1898 and a new three-stage tower is built in 1928.


"Cornwall Works" in Birmingham is built by the Tangye's, tool-makers of Illogan. The growth of their business follows success in moving Brunel's "Great Eastern" ship from its stocks when all else had failed.

Cornwall's first Mining Exchange is established in November in Camborne by Charles Carkeek. It is opened in the former premises of the Miners' Bank. Here, mining men could gather and transact business.  It closes around 1865. The Redruth Mining Exchange is established at the end of 1863 and its later premises in Alma Place still stand.

John Tabois Tregellas, "the Cornish Mathews", a gifted lecturer and story-teller, dies. He is buried at Llantysilio in Wales. He was born at St. Agnes in 1792. Tregellas was a merchant and mine purser by trade. He is best known for his dialect stories. These include:

  • Specimens of Cornish provincial dialect (1846)
  • Peeps into the haunts and homes of the rural population of Cornwall (1879)

The Duchy of Cornwall Management Act confirms that the Duke possesses seignory and territorial rights befitting a king.

John Harris, the poet (1820-) of Bolenowe, Camborne, wins the Shakespeare tercentenary first prize.

St Stephens' Church at Treleigh, Redruth commences construction to a design by J Piers St.Aubyn.

Newlyn St Peter's church is built in the 14th century style. A north aisle is added in 1888.

Collapse of copper prices begins the de-industrialisation of Cornwall and increases Cornish emigration.

Halsetown church, dedicated to St John Evangelist, and designed by J P St Aubyn is built.

The Redruth Times and Camborne Advertiser newspaper commences publication. The title is changed in 1879 to The Cornubian. It is again retitled the Cornwall County Times in 1924. Publication continues until 1925.

The High Sheriff appeals for aid to prevent "severe distress and great destitution" in Cornwall. Between 1860 and 1870 700 people die of poverty-related diseases in Truro alone.

The Wolf Rock Lighthouse is completed at a cost of £62,726.

The Duke of Cornwall sails down the River Nile accompanied by six blue and gold steamers towing supply barges. One carried 3,000 bottles of champagne, 4,000 bottles of claret, 10,000 pints of beer and four French chefs.

(17th Aug) Act creates the Bishopric of Truro.

The Cornish and Devon Post newspaper commences publication at Launceston.

(1st May) Bishop Benson is enthroned at St. Mary's Church, Truro as the first Bishop of Truro

(17th Aug) City status granted to Truro.

The first use of a high-pressure hose in the extraction of Cornish china-clay is introduced by the West Of England Company. It is sabotaged by the workers

St Nicholas' church, Tresco, Isles of Scilly, is erected. Mount Hawke church, by the architect Charles Hancock, is also built in 1878.

The Cornishman newspaper commences publication in Penzance.

The Redruth Independent newspaper commences publication and continues until 1895.

(25th May) HRH Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, lays foundation stone of Truro Cathedral (St. Mary's Church is demolished except for the South Aisle)

Tresmere Church is wholly rebuilt except for the tower, and reconsecrated in 1881.

St Andrew's church, Pencoys is built, as is Penzance's St John Baptist church.

Walter Langley settles in Newlyn, the first of those who become known as artists of the Newlyn School to reside there.

St Peter's church at Port Isaac, is built, and St Mary's church at Looe begins construction on the site of an old chapel. Its 13th century tower remains.

St Catherine's church is built at Temple on Bodmin Moor to a design by Sylvanus Trevail. This is on the site of a 12th century Knights Templar commandery. It was the location of an earlier church which had become ruinous by the 18th century.

St Andrew's at Redruth, daughter church to St. Euny's, is erected and completed in 1938.







The church of St John and St Petroc designed by J L Pearson (architect of Truro Cathedral) is built at Devoran.







Cornwall's first free public library service was founded by the creation of the Truro Free Public Library at the Public Rooms, Truro

J D Sedding's St Elwyn's church at Hayle is erected, and is considered to be one of the architect's best works.

The Newquay Guardian newspaper commences publication. It continues until 1911 when it is incorporated into the Newquay Express.

All Saints Church is built is Falmouth to the designs of J D Sedding. It becomes parochial in 1924.

The Cambornian newspaper commences publication in Camborne. The title changes to The Western Star in 1890. Publication continues until 1896.

(1st April) Cornwall County Council is created by the Local Government Act of 1888. Committees include:

  • County Rate Basis
  • Finance
  • Highways and Bridges
  • Lunatic Asylum
  • Contagious Diseases of Animals
  • General Purposes and Parliamentary
  • Standing Joint and
  • Sea Fisheries

The Cornish Post and Mining News newspaper commences publication in Camborne. Publication continues until 1944 when it is incorporated into The Cornishman. The St. Austell Star newspaper commences publication and continues until 1915. The Western Echo newspaper commences publication in St. Ives and continues until 1957 when it is incorporated in the St. Ives Times.

Bob Fitzsimmons of Helston is the first native Briton heavy-weight boxing champion. He also wins three world titles at different weights at an age when most of today's boxers would have retired.

(9th March) A blizzard swept through Cornwall bringing snowdrifts up to 20 feet deep. But it is the hurricane force wind that causes most damage: over 200 lives are lost, the majority at sea where 63 ships founder. Upwards of 6,000 sheep and lambs die, and half a million trees are brought down.

(6th June ) J. Passmore Edwards is made the first Freeman of the City of Truro for his generous gifts to the City and the County.

The St. Ives Weekly Summary newspaper commences publication and continues until 1918. From 1910 it becomes a local edition of The Cornishman.

(10th Jan) Wheal Owles (St. Just) mine disaster, 20 lives lost in flooding.

The first free public library building in Cornwall is provided when Penzance's Public Library is opened in Morrab Road. It is established with a bequest of £1,947 from Octavius Allen Ferris of Highgate, London. He gives similar amounts to Truro, Falmouth, Camborne and Redruth. Thomas Bedford Bolitho and J. Passmore Edwards each present 1,000 volumes. Passmore Edwards finances the building of these libraries too, as well as those at St. Ives, Bodmin, Liskeard and Launceston.

All Saints Church, Millbrook, is built echoing the 15th century style.

The Victoria Gardens in Truro are laid out and opened for public use in commemoration of the 60th year of the reign of Queen Victoria



Annual production of Cornish china-clay is over 550,000 tons

Marconi sends first transatlantic signal from Cornwall - details of archaeological surveys at the site

The Cornish Guardian newspaper commences publication in Bodmin

Camborne and Redruth Tramway opens. It is Cornwall's only electric street tramway. It is unique in Britain in providing for the transport of minerals too

Publication of Jenner's 'Handbook of the Cornish language', prompts the revival of Cornish.

The Newquay Express newspaper commences publication. It continues until 1945, when it becomes the Newquay Guardian and Cornwall County Chronicle. In 1955 it is incorporated as a local edition of the Cornish Guardian.

Geevor Mine is the name given to the former North Levant Mine which has worked from about 1810. It survives as a working mine until August 1986. It re-opens as a mining heritage centre in August 1993.

Thomas Merritt, composer of famous carols was born at Broad Lane, Illogan on October 26th 1863, the son of a copper miner. He attended Pool School until his father died when Thomas was age 11.
For a time Thomas then worked at Carn Brea mine and later Tolvaddon Tin Streams.

Mr Humphrey Broad taught him music for about 6 months at Redruth when he was about 18 or 19, but apart from that he appears to have had no formal training

He was organist at Chili Road Chapel and Illogan Highway Chapel.

In addition to his carols, Merritt also composed:

  • The Christian Solider, an Oratorio and
  • Shepherd of Israel, a Sacred Cantata.

Merritt died on April 17th 1908, aged 46.

Truro's three-spired cathedral is completed.

Newquay St. Michael's, a large church in the Cornish style designed by Sir Ninian Comper, is erected. It is destroyed by an arson attack on 29th June 1993 but reopens following complete restoration.

75% of Cornish china-clay production is for shipment overseas

The St. Ives Times newspaper commences publication. It continues from 1957 as the St. Ives Times and Echo (incorporating the Western Echo).

A wooden mission church is constructed at Carbis Bay. Foundations for a new church are laid in 1927, the tower is finished in 1959 and the nave is completed in 1964-8.

A major strike occurs in support of a minimum wage of £1 5s 0d (equal to approx £82.00 in 2005)

159 china-clay works are in operation in Cornwall

(20th Oct) Levant Mine (St. Just) disaster, 31 lives lost when main rod of man-engine broke.

Royal Institution of Cornwall occupies its present building in River Street, Truro.

The amalgamation takes place of three large china-clay companies:

  • Martin Brothers
  • the west of England and Great Beam Company, and
  • the North Cornwall China Clay Company

It becomes English China Clays Ltd or ECC. It controls 50% of china clay production

Donald Healey transmits an air-to-ground radio message over Perranporth. It is the first in Cornwall and possibly the country.

First Old Cornwall Society founded at St. Ives

Cornwall's deepest mine, the 3,500ft Dolcoath, closes


The County Library Service begins. In January 1925 Cornwall County Council adopts the Public Libraries Acts. By 1926 48 villages have boxes of up to 30 volumes sent out by bus and rail. In 1928 the first 'exhibition library van' is purchased. It is to carry about 2,000 books. Visiting each village regularly, it permits the public to select books for their village centre.

First Cornish Gorseth at Boscawen-un (instituted by Henry Jenner). It symbolises the resurgent interest in Cornwall's cultural and linguistic heritage. It is conducted by Pedrog, Archdruid of Britain.

Cornwall College is the first college of further education in the county

The Council for the Preservation of Rural England publishes Cornwall: a survey of its coast, moors and valleys, with suggestions for the preservation of amenities. Its preface is contributed by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch.

The Roman Villa at Magor Farm, Camborne, is discovered.

Miss Rowena Cade and her gardener begin to carve out the amphitheatre on the cliffs at Porthcurno. This becomes the remarkable Minack Theatre.

The process of the amalgamation of Cornish china-clay companies begun in 1919 continues with the formation of English Clays, Lovering, Pochin and Co (ECLP). ECLP controls 75% of the industry

Cornish author Silas K. Hocking becomes the first author to sell 1 million books in his lifetime.








A large coal-fired power station is built by ECLP at Drinnick to serve the whole Hensbarrow area

(23rd January) The St. Ives Lifeboat was called to aid a vessel in danger to the North West of Cape Cornwall. The lifeboat was launched in an exceptionally violent storm and capsized three times during the rescue attempt. Sadly, the coxswain, Thomas Cocking, and six of the crew died including his son, John. The only survivor was William Freeman, who had never sailed with the lifeboat before and volunteered at the last moment as the eighth man. After the lifeboat crashed against rocks, he succeeded in getting up the cliff and raising the alarm at Godrevy Farm. All the men were awarded Bronze medals and a plaque to commemorate their bravery is at St. Ives. William Freeman died 39 years later on the exact anniversary of the tragedy

Capt Dick Yelland retires in January after 60 years work at the same china-clay works



Royal Institution of Cornwall suggests to the County Council the establishment of a County Record Office

Mebyon Kernow (The Sons of Cornwall) is formed. It is initially a pressure group working within existing political parties. It canvasses for Cornwall to have greater control of its own destiny.

Charles Causley's first volume of poetry is published - Farewell Aggie Weston.

(June 3rd) Serious flooding occurs at Boscastle. Local Bandmaster Mr Charlie Berryman loses his life by drowning. Miss Rachel Beadon is trapped in a telephone box and has to be rescued by fishermen.

The Greensplat Cornish beam engine in the china-clay district ceases working, the last such engine to work in Cornwall

Mount Edgcumbe House, originally erected in 1547-54, is rebuilt following its destruction in the Second World War.

Counter-urbanisation results in major inward migration to Cornwall.

Tamar Road Bridge opens.

St. Austell Public Library is built to the design of F K Hicklin, County Architect. It is now a listed building.

(July) Goonhilly Earth Satellite Station's first aerial ready for the launch of Telstar. This was the first satellite communication between the UK and the rest of the world.

Sir James Smith Comprehensive School at Camelford, designed by F K Hicklin, is built.

Newquay County Branch Library is built to the design of F K Hicklin, County Architect.

A pedestrian precinct is begun in the centre of St. Austell. It contains

  • a supermarket and shops
  • flats
  • offices
  • a restaurant and
  • a multi-storey car park

It is designed by Alister MacDonald and Partners.

Penzance to Scilly helicopter service is launched. This is the first scheduled passenger helicopter service in Europe.

Cornwall's new County Hall , now a listed building, is completed to the design of the County Architect's Department under Alan J Groves.

MV Darlwyne was lost with all 31 people on board at during the evening of July 31st 1966 somewhere near Dodman Point. Changes were made to maritime law following this wreck.

(18th March) The Torrey Canyon goes aground on the Seven Stones. It contained a cargo of 119,328 tons of crude oil. It was en route from Mena al Ahmadi in the Persian Gulf to the BP Refinery in Milford Haven. Salvage preparations are begun, but by 21st March the oil slick was 35 by 20 miles in extent. The ship is abandoned. The entire Cornish coastline, north and south, is polluted by the end of the month.

Kilbrandon Report into the British constitution suggests/recommends that, when referring to Cornwall - official sources should, where appropriate, cite the Duchy not the County.

Institute of Cornish Studies set up at Trevenson House, Pool, with Prof. Charles Thomas as its first Director.

Peninsula West, Cornwall's first modern-day free newspaper, commences publication and continues until 1974.

Reform of Cornish Stannary Parliament

(1st April) Local Government Reorganisation establishes six new districts:

  • Penwith
  • Kerrier
  • Carrick
  • Restormel
  • Caradon and
  • North Cornwall

Creation of the Cornish Studies Library in Redruth.

The North Cornwall Courier newspaper commences publication in Bodmin. It continues as the Cornwall Courier, published in Falmouth until 1986. It is succeeded by the Newquay Packet and the St. Austell Packet. These are local editions of the Falmouth Packet.

(September) 80 properties in Polperro are seriously flooded

The Stannators right to veto Westminster legislation is confirmed by Parliament.

Peter Mitchell of Cornwall receives the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. The prize is awarded for his contribution to the understanding of biological energy transfer through the formulation of the chemiosmotic theory

(20th Dec) Penlee Lifeboat Disaster. 8 lifeboatmen, all unpaid volunteers, perished today off Lands End with 4 shipwrecked sailors they had rescued. The lifeboat was launched from the fishing village of Mousehole into hurricane-lashed seas. It was crushed against the 1,400ton coaster, Union Star by 60ft. waves. A project pack is available at the County Reference Library

The BBC's first purpose-built radio station opens in Truro

The Gazette: Launceston and Bude newspaper commences publication in Launceston. In 1987 it becomes The Launceston and Bude Gazette. In 1989 it is retitled the Launceston, Bude and Holsworthy Gazette. The title changes againin 1991 to the Journal Gazette.

Geo-thermal experiments using hot-rock energy are successful at Rosemanowes, Longdowns.

(22nd Dec) Popular Cornish MP, the member for Truro, David Penhaligon, killed in car accident, aged 42.

Creation of the new Courts of Justice at Truro, designed by Evans and Shalev, begins.

(1st April) Britain's first Air Ambulance service is launched in Cornwall.

The Duke of Cornwall suggests the formation of a Devon and Cornwall Development Corporation. This promotes closer administrative links. Concerned Cornish label this concept 'Devonwall'.

(6th July) Pollution of Lowermoor Water Treatment Works, Camelford. Cornwall produces over 3.25 million tons of refined china-clay

Newquay's Martin Potter was World Surfing Champion.

(24th - 25th Jan) Storm winds of 177 mph are recorded in Falmouth. The Polurian Hotel at Mullion loses its roof. 400,000 South West residents are left without power for 2 hours. 50,000 Cornish residents lose power for over 24 hrs.

Cornwall's unemployment has increased by 300% since 1961 (20,000 cf. 5,000) while its population has increased by 39% (473,000 cf. 339,000).

(17th Nov) Thousands of gallons of heavily polluted water overflow into the Carnon River from the recently closed Wheal Jane.

(Dec) Cornwall's first commercial wind-farm in service at Delabole.

Prince Charles opens the Tate Gallery at St. Ives.

First commercial radio station, Pirate FM102, begins broadcasting on 3rd April.

The joint Cornwall and Devon bid for Objective One funds fails because of Devon's high GDP.

(30th December) Polperro suffers extensive flooding and 99 properties are deluged

The Queen handed out maundy money during a visit to Truro

(Dec) Launch of new campaign for a University for Cornwall by Sir Geoffrey Holland, Vice-Chancellor of University of Exeter.

Statistics reveal that out of 56 deprived communities in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset, 51 are in Cornwall.

(24th May) Keskerdh Kernow marchers set off from St. Keverne in remembrance of 1497 events.

(6th March) Closure of South Crofty mine is widely believed to mark an end to 4000 years of metal mining in Cornwall.

(February) Cornwall County Council vote in support of the campaign to include Cornish as a minority ethnic group. This is for the purposes of the forthcoming 2001 Census. The Government's Office of National Statistics subsequently agrees the inclusion. English China Clays International (ECCI) is acquired by the French company Imetal. ECCI changes its name in the same year to Imerys

(25th March) Cornwall is awarded Objective 1 status

(22nd May) Cornwall beat Gloucestershire at Twickenham in the Rugby Union County Championship

(August) The Government's Compliance Report to the Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities declines to recognise the term 'national minority' as applicable. It applies the Council of Europe principles to ethnic groups and visible minorities, using the Race Relations Act 1976 to define racial groups. The Scots, Welsh and Irish, although not 'national minorities' as defined by the Government, are included as racial groups, implying that the Cornish are neither.

(11th Aug) On the morning of Wednesday 11th August, a total eclipse of the Sun occurs over the south-western part of the UK mainland.

(March) The Eden Project opens its doors to the public for the first time.

(October 22nd) The Cornwall Centre opens at Alma Place, Redruth. This is a significant town centre regeneration project at a cost of £2.6million. It incorporates the much-enlarged Cornish Studies Library with a visitor centre. 12 shop units and a market stall area are also included. Cornwall's first 'Forum' scheme for housing and training homeless young people is also incorporated.

The Cornish are allocated the ethnic code ‘06’ on the 2001 census.

(March) The Council of Europe request the Government to consult the Cornish. This had a view to incorporating Cornish language, history and culture into the education curriculum.

(5th Nov) UK Government confirms that Cornish will be included in the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. This joins Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Irish, Scots and Ulster Scots as a protected and promoted language within the United Kingdom.

Saving Grace, filmed in Cornwall is released, as is the James Bond blockbuster Die Another Day, which was partly filmed in the county.

(April 13th) Baseresult claims a new era of mining has begun at South Crofty mine, which it acquired in 2001, with the blasting of a new tunnel to link the Tuckingmill Decline with New Cook's Kitchen shaft. The company estimates an 80-year life for the mine.

(16th August) Boscastle and Crackington are inundated with devastating floods, which result in extensive damage and loss of property but no loss of life.

Cornwall merged into the South West England constituency of the European Parliament.

(November 25th)  More than 1,000 people are stranded in their vehicles on the A30 over Bodmin Moor due to heavy snowfall.

(July 5th) A report is released documenting concerns regarding the abuse of people with learning disabilities at Budock Hospital, Falmouth, and 46 community homes. The hospital is closed by December, and in April 2009 is gutted by a fire.

(July 13th) Selected mining sites in Cornwall and West Devon become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

(July) The proposal for a single council for Cornwall (Unitary Authority) is approved by the Government.


(May) The Standard Written Form of the Cornish language is formally agreed.

(June) The first election for Cornwall’s new unitary authority is held. There are now 123 councillors.

The Wave Hub is successfully installed offshore at Hayle.

(June 29th) A mini tsunami, caused by an underwater landslide, sweeps up the south west coast. It causes some rivers to briefly appear to change direction, and fish to jump out of the water.

(May) The Olympic torch arrives at Land’s End, for the final leg of the relay to the opening ceremony in London.

(February 15th) A devastating storm sees widespread flooding across the South West Region of England. The rail link at Dawlish is severed by a landslide. Flooding is reported at:

  • Newlyn
  • St Mawes
  • Perranporth (where the Blue Bar is almost washed away)
  • Looe
  • Kingsand (where the iconic clock tower is undermined by waves, almost crumbling into the sea) and
  • Cawsand.

The outer wall of Porthleven harbour is washed away, causing 6 boats to sink. Homes in Kingsand are evacuated. The rail link is not repaired and reopened until April 4th.

(April) The Cornish are recognised as a national minority group by the UK Government.