Address: Newquay, Cornwall

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Newquay History

Newquay was originally known as ‘Towan Blystra’ with ‘Towan’ being Cornish for ‘sand dune’ and ‘Blystra’ meaning ‘blown’. In historic times, it was an important burial ground.

Due to its coastline, which gives natural shelter against bad weather, Newquay developed in the early days as a fishing port. Like many fishing ports at the time, the only place for the boats to dock was on the beach. But this changed in the 15th century when Edmund Lacey, who was Bishop of Exeter at the time, obtained funds to build a wooden harbour. This made it more popular and a community developed.

This served the town well for 400 years until 1832 when the building of the stone harbour began. This was built in stages and gradually developed into the harbour we see today.

There was a major development in 1876 which, looking back, might be seen as the start of Newquay’s place as a holiday destination. This was when the rail line was built and from this time on, tourism became the main local industry. Large hotels began to spring up and family holidays became the trend.

Over the years, cheaper accommodation also came onto the market, and in the 1930’s the Tourist Information Centre opened.

In the 1960s, surfing came over from USA and Newquay, due to its layout and tidal conditions, became the most popular surfing place in Britain. The coastline has a reef called the ‘Cribbar’ and this can produce natural waves of 20 feet high. The conditions for surfing are so good that Newquay forms part of the World Series of surfing events, with many international events having taken place here. The main beach for events is Fistral Beach.

The influx of people in the summer is enormous and this is the time when the town, with a population of 22,000, can expand to over 100,000 people.

For ease of travel, the town is home to Cornwall Airport and this was built in 1933.

Apart from the beach, other attractions include Newquay Zoo, Blue Reef Aquarium, Dairyland Fun Park, Japanese Gardens, Trenance Leisure Gardens, Holywell Bay Fun Park, Waterworld, Lappa Valley Steam Railway, South West Coast Path walks, golf, theatres, spas, extreme sports, watersports, horse riding, sightseeing tours, museums and health clubs.

 

Newquay Visit

They really do seem to have got the formula right. The place revolves around surfing and the focal point is Fistral Beach. It’s not just the jewel in the crown – it seems to be the whole crown!. It’s a fairly long beach forming a cove with a golf course backing on to it on the inland side. It would have been so easy to build a promenade and fill it with kiosks, amusement arcades etc and fully take advantage of the commercial potential, but you could see that harming the charm of the place.

As it is, less is more and almost like protecting a world heritage site, the place retains its natural look with a minimum number of well designed buildings. There’s a large wooden cabin on the north side, housing the surfer’s needs of food, toilets and a couple of surf clothing shops There’s a two-tiered lifeguard control cabin nearby and a small cafe/lifeguard cabin in the south corner. Other than that, the nearest shop is a good walk away, leaving this to be the haven it should be. The nearby buildings are B&B’s, hotels and apartments, with the large Headland Hotel on the north side of the bay.

For parking, there’s a car park next to the main beachside cabin and some roadside parking on the south side, but there’s plenty of other parking in the town. This is a five minute walk away, with one car park being at the end of a path that cuts through the golf course and onto the beach.

The commercial area of the town has the perfect composition. Being a large enough town to have an airport, there are going to be the usual high street shops, but there’s a type of ‘buffer’ zone of shops at the beach end of the town. These are pretty much all surf type shops and they gradually lead into the town with the perfect atmospheric balance.

There’s a central bar with its large outdoor area giving an almost panoramic view of the high street – this seems to be the focal point of the town’s nightlife – but there are plenty of bars and nightclubs around. 

The surfer’s needs are provided by nature and the town’s needs are provided by the surfers. All in all it’s a great spectacle!