A Place Called Filorey Between Newquay and Mawgan

This post is to help those readers of an old book that refers to Filorey between Newquay and Mawgan. If you’re looking to find where this is, then I’ve found the answer for you. The book in question is John Murray’s 1852 book entitled A Handbook for Travellers in Devon and Cornwall.  The line says: “beneath a range of romantic cliffs, which are particularly fine at a place called Filorey between Newquay and Mawgan” and the question one asks is “where is Filorey?”

I love these old books as they’re full of old places, forgotten treats and written in a bygone age. In 1852, when the book was written, the railway didn’t even go to Newquay, in fact Newquay only gets a mention for its pubs. There were two pubs in 1852, Old Inn and the Red Lion. Murray’s short entry says:

“7 m. from St. Columb, and 2 m, W. of St. Columb Minor, is a small watering-place where the pilchard fishery is pursuyed on a considerable scale. It is situated at the W. end of Watergate Bay under the shelter of Towan Head, and its firm sandy beach runs 3 m. E. beneath a range of romantic cliffs, which are particularly fine at a place called Filorey between Newquay and Mawgan.

“Newquay is to be the northern terminus of a railroad commenced by the late Mr. Treffry, of Place House, Fowey. It is at present unfinished, but is to be completed according to the directions contained in the testament of its projector. It will run from one coast of the county to the other in a line from Par to Newquay. “

Murray revised his book several times in the coming years, with each edition there are small changes, omissions, additions to be found.

Where is Filorey?

Flory Island, Black Humphrey Rock: Filorey, Porth, Newquay, Cornwall

Flory Island, Black Humphrey Rock: Filorey

So, returning to the original question, depending on which source you believe, it’s Trevelgue Head, while others say it’s the lump of rock to be found at Whipsiderry Beach. This rock is called by a few names, depending who you are reading, including: Phillorey Island, Flory Island, Norwegian Rock and Black Humphreay. But the name Flory must be where Murray was describing. It took me some hours to find this and work it out – I hope this post has saved somebody some time.

Photo of Porth, Black Humphrey Rock 1907, ref. 59341
Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.

Francis Frith

You can see how it’s changed since this photo in 1907.  Francis Frith is a photographer who travelled extensively round the UK, taking photographs. His entire collection was nearly lost some time after his death, but it was saved, digitized and made available. The photos were taken between 1900 and 1960. I always look to see what photos Francis Frith has of anywhere. He took several photos of Filorey, or Black Humphrey Rock as he calls it – one, in 1907, is quite clear. Another photograph, from 1965 is in the Francis Frith Collection too, although that’s taken from the Porth headland viewpoint when the tide is in.

You can get also clues for this type of quest from old maps. The travelling writers might not have been tuned into the heavy Cornish accents in the 1850s, so names are often written down wrongly, or simply had their spelling changed over time, or a name change. Today, the commonly used name for this rock, or island, is Flory Island. It’s amazing just how different it looks over time; I imagine it was much larger in the 1850s!

I love seeing how places were and taking old photos to the spot where they were taken, so I can see how they’ve changed – which can be quite a lot, yet they’re still all recognisable.

Images © Derek Harper

This entry was posted in Newquay History, Rambling and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.