Author Archives: FHHS admin

HMS Polruan, HMS Express and a U-Boat

2.30pm Saturday 17 November 2018 at WI Hall, Polruan

HMS Polruan, HMS Express and a U-Boat


Geoff Pringle was an entertaining speaker and interspersed his talk with photographs and videos. Artefacts were also displayed, and he explained how he had acquired them and researched their origins. His talk was in three parts.


A ship’s bell from HMS Express was inscribed 1941, although launched in 1934, as the ship had been almost destroyed entering an uncharted minefield and had been rebuilt in 1941. It now lies as part of a breakwater in British Columbia.


A bronze treadplate from HMS Polruan was inscribed from the people of Polruan. It had been launched in 1940 with funds raised in a Warship’s Week, the National Savings Campaign, but in the end Budleigh Salterton had adopted the ship, probably because they had raised more funds than little Polruan.


Finally, the story of U17, due to the acquisition of its bell, a German submarine that had its own story to tell.

Trade and Tragedy in a West-country Seaport by Alex Lewis

Trade and Tragedy in a West-country Seaport by Alex Lewis, 27th October 2018

Alex expertly introduced us to a snapshot of a few years of the Fowey Harbour Board ledgers from the tail end of the 19th Century, where all the shipping movements were recorded, with cargoes, destinations, Captains names, and a whole lot more.

This information leads to a multitude of other tracks of investigation, and Alex followed a couple of these paths, delving into the lives of the Ship Owners, Captains, their families, and the local traders who often had a small share in the Ship.

This revealed it was often a tough life aboard, and a worrying time ashore, with tragedy never far away.

An excellent talk illustrated with many unique slides.


‘We are starting our autumn and winter series of talks on 22nd September, at Whitecross Village Hall at 2.30pm. Hear from author Charlotte MacKenzie about smugglers and merchants in eighteenth century Cornwall.

Entry to Talks  –  Members £3,  non Members £6

Saturday 22nd September 2018 at 2.30pm


Talk: ‘Smugglers and merchants in eighteenth-century Cornwallby Charlotte MacKenzie

Smuggling was integral to trade in eighteenth-century Cornwall – organised by Cornish merchants carrying cargoes from tin to tea. Based on research for a new book, this talk takes a refreshing look at some of the myths and legends about smuggling in Cornwall.


Whitecross Village Hall


Saturday 27th October 2018

at 7.30pm

Talk: ‘Trade and tragedy in a west-country seaport’

by Alex Lewis

Inspired by a study of late 19th century port records this talk looks at Fowey’s shipping industry in the twilight years of sail.


Fowey Parish Rooms


Saturday 17th November 2018

at 2.30pm

Talk: ‘HMS Polruan, HMS Express and a U Boat –

A vignette of unpublished naval stories with a twist’

by Geoff Pringle

Three naval histories lavishly illustrated by pictures and artefacts from the speaker’s own collection.

Polruan WI Hall


Saturday 8th December 2018

at 2.30pm

Talk:A star to steer her by: the uncommon tale of two 19th century mariners’ manuscripts by Steph Haxton

This talk explores two ‘navigation exercises’, more than mere trials in trigonometry or exercises in plane sailing, but evidence of some inspirational teaching and the art of navigation at the height of Napoleonic War.


Fowey Parish Rooms


Saturday 19th January 2019

at 2.30pm

Talk: ‘Tywardreath Priory : The House on the Strand’

by Roger Smith

Once dominant in the affairs of Fowey and much of Mid-Cornwall, Tywardreath Priory was closed in 1536 and disappeared from sight and memory. Daphne du Maurier was so intrigued that she based her successful novel, The House on the Strand on this intriguing medieval foundation.


Fowey Parish Rooms


Friday 22nd February 2019

at 7.30pm

Talk: ‘Graham & Graham: Fowey brothers in law’

by Eileen Scholes

For the last quarter of Victoria’s reign and most of the 20th century, the town’s principal solicitors, three generations of one family, were party to most of the important decisions taken in Fowey. But why, back in 1885, did the firm’s founder give up his successful London practice to move to Cornwall? And how did he manage so quickly to lay the foundations of a legal dynasty that would reach into almost every corner of Fowey’s business for close on 100 years?


Fowey Parish Rooms


Saturday 16th March 2019

at 7.30pm


Saturday 27th April 2019 at 2.30pm

Talk:D Day’ by Roddy de Normann

Details yet to be supplied by the speaker




AGM and Talk ‘A Stroll through Mevagissey’

by Gordon Kane followed by a cream tea.

Free to members


Fowey Town Hall




Whitecross Village Hall



Dr Helen Wilson gave a fascinating talk about the Pinwell sisters and their amazing skill and talent for woodcarving primarily in Devon  and Cornwall. We were shown some truly beautiful work in some of our local churches including some newly identified almost certainly Pinwell work in St Fimbarrus.  The skill, imagination and artistry of the ‘Pinwell’ work was amazing and it was  interesting to note that their skill was transferable to stone. I found it intriguing that it was acceptable for young ladies of a certain social status to  be encouraged by their father to take up woodcarving almost as a career and in the case of the Pinwell sisters to set up their own business and employ local men.

I am sure that most of the audience would have felt inspired to explore some of the churches that Helen highlighted, particularly Crantock, St Winnow and st Wyllow.


Members of the Society get half-price entry to all talks and events

To join e-mail

Saturday 23rd September 2017 at 7.30pm

Talk: ‘Brunel’s First Ship and her Cornish Captains’

by Dr Helen Doe

Isambard Brunel’s Great Western was the first ship to establish a transatlantic steam service. Launched in 1837 it carried the rich and the famous for 18 years. Helen’s talk, based on her new book, will tell the tales of the crew, the passengers and the two Cornishmen who were in charge for many years.

Fowey Town Hall

Saturday 21st October 2017

at 2.30pm

Talk:  ‘A Brisk Stroll through 300 years in Polperro’

by Jeremy Rowett Johns

Jeremy talks us through 300 years of Polperro’s history, beginning with a shipwreck, meeting a smuggler, a squire, a surgeon, and a pioneering photographer along the way… and ending with a fingerprint experiment.


Polruan WI Hall


Saturday 25th November 2017

at 2.30pm

Talk: ‘The Pinwell sisters – woodcarvers from Ermington and Plymouth’ by Dr Helen Wilson

Mary, Ethel and Violet Pinwill worked as woodcarvers from at least 1889, through their own company, Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co. By the time Violet died in 1957, Pinwill woodcarvings featured in over 185 churches in Devon and Cornwall, including St Winnow.


Whitecross Village Hall


Friday 8th December 2017

at 7.30pm

Talk: ‘South Coast Barges’’ by Stuart Hunkin

A talk compiled from extensive family archives and a diary dating back to 1918 which looks at the Hunkin involvement in trading along the south coast of Devon and Cornwall in sailing barges during the first part of the 20th century.


Fowey Parish Rooms

Friday 26th January 2018

at 7.30pm

Talk: ‘Sailing Forward by Looking Back’ by Thom Axon

This talk gives an insight into the modern day goings on of life aboard tall ships and explores the notion that they are tangible links to our past and that we have much to learn from the seamanship, art and politics of these incredible vessels.

Fowey Parish Rooms

Friday 23rd February 2018

at 7.30pm

Talk: ‘Fowey Consols’ by Jim Lewis

In the 1830s Fowey Consols copper mine in Tywardreath was one of the biggest mines in Cornwall employing about 1,700 people. Jim  has written a history of the mine and will give an illustrated talk and discuss the mine’s growth and decline and its economic and social impact on the local area.


Fowey Parish Rooms

Saturday 17th March 2018

at 2.30pm



Saturday 28th April 2018 at 2.00pm

Talk: ‘Boconnoc – it is the paradise of Cornwall’

by Dr Catherine Lorigan

This talk will show how the estate and house at Boconnoc have developed over time. The Cornish families who have owned it have played important roles in the immediate vicinity (including at Fowey, Bodinnick and Polruan) and in national events.


 AGM and Talk ‘Cornish Victorian Writersby Dr Alan Kent followed by a cream tea.


Whitecross Village Hall





Fowey Parish Rooms


COST of talks and films for non-members £6

All enquiries to our Hon Sec, Jane Staniland (01726) 833749


Guided walks for 2017

Fowey walks, every Tuesday from 4th April (meet on Town Quay at 11am)

Polruan Walks, every Thursday from 11th May (meet on Polruan Quay at 11am)

Guided ‘Hall Walk’ walks are only available if pre-booked, for between 6 and 20 people

Contact Ros 01726 832155 or Lynn 01726 832580

Newlyn Artists

There was a full house for John Halkes’ talk at Whitecross recently, an engaging and informative journey through the paintings and painters of the ‘Newlyn School’ reflecting on the social history and styles that influenced the artists and their art. 

Last Fowey Guided Walk 2016

Lynn Gould took the last guided tour of Fowey on Tues 25th October, taking 7 people around the town, including one group of six who turned up complete with knitted pirate hats. Sadly the ladies had left theirs at home! They gave full permission to publish their picture. They were great fun and caused quite a stir walking around the town, and had an enjoyable and informative trip around Fowey

IMG_0095aGuided walks of Fowey and Polruan will begin again next Easter

Troy Story talk

Over 40 people attended the Troy Story talk by Marcus Lewis at the Fowey Parish Hall on Saturday, and were entertained with around 80 slides detailing the History of the Troy Class Yachts that race around Fowey Harbour from the Launch of Jocelyn, Troy no 1, in 1929 to the present day. 

The next FHHS event is Fri 18th November at Whitecross Village Hall, ‘In search of the Smugglers’

Winter events

Saturday 30th September Talk: ‘The History of Marine Operations in Fowey’ by Mike Sutherland

Saturday 22nd October Talk: ‘Troy Story’ by Marcus Lewis

Saturday 21st November  Talk: ‘In Search of the Smugglers’ by Carole Vivian

Saturday 10th December  Film: ‘The World of Clay’’ with introduction by Malcolm Gould

 Saturday 28th January 2017  Talk: ‘A Breath of Sea Air: Artists of the Newlyn School 1880 –1920’ by John Halkes

Saturday 18th February 2017 Talk: ‘Merchants and Pirates, Shipmen and Smugglers: Fowey during the Hundred Years’ War’ by Sam Drake

 Friday 24th March 2107  Talk: ‘The History of St. Austell Brewery’ by Chris Knight 

Check out the Events list for more info