If you’re a fan of museums, heritage centres and exhibitions on local history or social history, then a museum visit can be a great way to discover local secrets, histories, curiosities and see the past brought to life.
Visiting the museums in Newquay is a great way to spend an entire day touring the local area if the weather’s not great – or, individually, you can include them when you’re passing.
As a town, Newquay is fairly new, as it sprung up mostly after the railway was built to Newquay Harbour, but there are some older artefacts, curiosities and history to discover.
So, where are the museums in Newquay that you can investigate further, without burning up any miles on the road?
Newquay Old Cornwall Society, Newquay Heritage Archive & Museum
Newquay Old Cornwall Society started in 1928 and now has a small Heritage, Archive and Museum, open to the public, located in rooms opposite the Lighthouse cinema in Newquay, the nearest car park is behind the museum on Georges Road.
The Newquay Old Cornwall Society describes itself thus:
“Building & maintaining an archive relating to the history of Newquay and district for researchers and future generations.”
The Archive and Museum is staffed entirely by volunteers.
The Archive & Museum holds a large archive of documentary material relating to Newquay; with details of the pilchard fishery, coastal shipping, railway and harbour development and the evolution of the holiday industry. For family historians, there’s also information available on the history of Newquay families and the development of hotels, shops and housing in the area. A computer database is available to assist in searches, together with an extensive digital photographic archive. Images of the Society’s collection of artefacts are also available.
The Newquay Old Cornwall Society provided assistance in 2002 for the Newquay Discovery Trail to be developed – a historical and heritage trail across Newquay that’s marked by 14 slate discs set into the ground – you might notice them if you’re around town.
The NOCS also has a permanent exhibition set up at Dairyland, Newquay – if you are at Dairyland you can see this, but to gain access you have to have paid the Dairyland Entry Fee.
- Address: Rooms 1a and 1b of Central House, 4-6 Crantock Street Newquay, TR7 1JS
- Entry Price: Possibly FREE
- Opening Hours: Wednesdays 10:00-16:00, Thursdays/Fridays
10:30-15:30, Saturdays 10:00-12:00. Closed Sunday-Tuesday.
Trenance Heritage Cottages
Located at Trenance Gardens, Newquay, Trenance Cottages were Newquay’s biggest ever community-led restoration project. 10 years after launching their fundraising and subsequent Lottery funding being obtained, the Cottages opened.
The cottages are among the oldest buildings in Newquay, now Grade II Listed, parts date back to the 1800s; the three original cottages have been restored and renovated and the lives of the families who lived in the houses has been researched, information is displayed on the walls inside. Many of their descendants still live in Newquay today. The three cottages first appeared as homes ~1850 and over 100 people lived in the cottages over the next 100 years, including lodgers, visitors and even WW2 evacuees.
Trenance Heritage Cottages are manned entirely by volunteers who have been instrumental in transforming these derelict buildings into the restored and refurbished buildings of today, so they have a real depth of knowledge about the buildings and their occupants, beyond what you’ll see on the walls – so engage them in conversation and discover more.
Two of the ‘heritage rooms’ still have the original cooking ranges in situ. Upstairs there’s a “listening post” where you can hear old stories told by past Newquay residents of their recollections growing up in the town. There’s also a bedroom laid out upstairs. Upstairs is not mobility-challenged accessible as you go up a narrow/steep old staircase.
- Address: Trenance Gardens, Edgcumbe Avenue, Newquay, TR7 2HW
- Entry Price: FREE
- Opening Hours: Monday/Tuesday/Thursday Closed. Wednesday and Friday to Sunday 10:30-16:30.
Trerice Museum and Exhibitions
The National Trust property at Trerice, a couple of miles outside of Newquay, is an accredited museum. National Trust members get free entry. Trerice is an Elizabethan Cornish Manor House in excellent condition and with vast grounds and gardens.
The collection includes 17th – 19th century furniture; a collection of clocks, paintings (including a self portrait by John Opie, the Cornish child prodigy) and a collection of 17th century embroidered pictures. You can view 1088 of their articles online on the National Trust website.
Trerice Lawnmower Museum: There used to be a small lawnmower museum at Trerice, in the grounds, but this has now closed down.
- Address: Kestle Mill, Newquay, Cornwall, England, TR8 4PG
- Entry Prices (2016): NT Members Free. Adult, £7.65; Child, £3.80.
- Opening Hours: Seasonal opening and varying times. Open Easter to the end of October daily – check the National Trust website for times when you have a date in mind.
There are other museums close by if you wish to travel a little further. The main museum in Cornwall is based at Truro, the Royal Cornwall Museum. There are plenty of other, small, local museums to be found dotted around the county though!
With the increase in interest in family history, museums are increasingly becoming the main reason for people to choose a holiday destination, as they seek to drink in the atmosphere of where their ancestors lived, or hunt down vital records, parish registers and information on the locality and even employers and neighbours their ancestors might have known. Who knows, you might even walk past the house of the man your GGG-grandfather stole a pocket handkerchief from and was sent to jail!
Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre
Based on the A3059 road to St Columb Major, at RAF Newquay, just 2 miles north of Newquay, is the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre.
With indoor and outdoor exhibits to see, you also get the chance to go inside a variety of classic aircraft parked outside. There’s also a huge Airfix model display.
Run by knowledgeable volunteers, you can book a Flight Experience too. Plenty of free parking on-site.
- Address: HAS 3, Aerohub 2, St Mawgan, Newquay, Cornwall, TR8 4JN
- Entry Prices (2016): Adults £7, Children £4, Concessions £5, Family ticket £18
- Opening Hours: Seasonal opening and varying times. Closed on Saturdays, usually open Sunday-Friday 10.30-4.30. Check website for days and times.