Autumn Talks 2020

The first Talk of this Autumn season is by Helen Doe.

 Butcher, Baker and Candlestick Maker: 19th Century Local Shipowners 

Locally built Ships travelled the World in the 19th Century. This talk looks at people in Fowey and Polruan, who waited patiently for their Ships to come home. These Ships brought wealth to some, which is reflected in many buildings in Fowey, but many more in Polruan,

Was Polruan the ‘Money side’ after all ?

Saturday 19th September at 2.30pm

Due to the current restrictions, this talk is ONLINE

and free for Members only

To join, or to renew your Membership for 2020/21 and to receive your Zoom details please contact Andrew Gardner 07769 977116 or email

Members lunch 2nd November

fhhs present 2 fhhs present 4fhhs present 1fhhs present 3








Fowey Harbour Heritage Society held their Members Lunch at the Royal Fowey Yacht Club on Nov 2nd, and as well as the lunch, there were Heritage Awards presented to Nigel Hall, who has written a fascinating book on the History of Polkerris, and also for Paul Richardsfor his ongoing contribution to local history, but especially for the recent wartime exhibitions which show the extent of Pauls research and knowledge.

There were also awards presented to some of the FHHS Guides who were retiring from this role.

It was a great social occasion, with excellent food, well served by the staff of  RFYC.

Keep a look out for the next one !!

Some insights into Golant History

Some Insights into Golant’s History

Saturday 16 November 2019


The talk was presented to a packed Fowey Parish Rooms by Sue Reardon and Ian Laughton, members of Golant’s Heritage Group. Golant is a small waterside village of around 220 people on the west bank of the river Fowey and at one time a well-used ford crossed the river nearby. Many of Golant’s residents attended the talk.
The Group had been set up seven years ago and has discovered many new and fascinating facts about Golant’s past.  Sue talked a little about its exhibitions and booklets, then presented her recent project, illustrated with slides, ‘Golant Through Time’, which was a brief history from Domesday to the mid-19th century.  Information was given about the medieval ownership of the lands of Lantyan and Golant, the villagers and their occupations over time, the church, civil war skirmishes and battles, and so much more. Ian then talked about their brand new online archive and demonstrated how to navigate the website. It was all very interesting.

Polkerris, Pilchards and Palaces

Nigel Hall gave us an extremely well researched talk about Polkerris, Pilchards and Palaces. With the excellent Rashleigh Archives held in the Cornwall Record Office, Nigel was able to put together a picture of the Pilchard Fishing from Polkerris from the late 16th Century until its demise in the 19th Century. One of the slides he showed us was a fascinating image of an old map which showed the seines ( Pilchard fishing nets) in St Austell Bay. He explained the process of curing and storing the Pilchards so they could then be exported mostly out of Fowey to the Catholic countries in the southern Mediterranean area. There were many questions for Nigel after his talk. Two for you now…how any Pilchards does a ‘hogshead’ hold ? ( Answer 7000 ) Why were the Pilchard cellars called ‘palaces’ ? ( Answer – unknown ) Research seems to lead to more research. Nigel’s book was available to buy afterwards.

Tywardreath Priory – The House on the Strand

There was standing room only in Fowey Parish Rooms at our January event when Roger Smith, secretary of Cornwall Archaeological Society and of the community group In Search of Tywardreath gave a talk on the history of Tywardreath Priory. There is much we do not know about this establishment, including its exact location and its original founders, but Roger managed to paint a fascinating picture of the monastery’s history, exploring why it was built in Tywardreath, what it looked like, how it operated, why and how it ended and the influence it had over Fowey. We were also treated to an insight into the latest discoveries being made by the In Search of Tywardreath project. A real treat.

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