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Coordinates: 50°07′08″N 5°32′13″W / 50.119°N 5.537°W / 50.119; -5.537

Cornish: Pensans
A panorama of Penzance
Penzance is located in Cornwall

 Penzance shown within Cornwall
Population 21,168 (2001)
OS grid reference SW462269
Parish Penzance
Unitary authority Cornwall
Ceremonial county Cornwall
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town PENZANCE
Postcode district TR18
Dialling code 01736
Police Devon and Cornwall
Fire Cornwall
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament St Ives
List of places: UK • England • Cornwall

Penzance (Cornish: Pensans, also Penzans, pronounced /pɛnˈzæns/) is a town, civil parish, and port in Cornwall, England, in the United Kingdom.

Granted various Royal Charters from 1512 onwards and incorporated in 1614,[1] it has a population of 21,168.[2]

Situated in the shelter of Mount's Bay, the town faces south-east onto the English Channel, is bordered to the west by the fishing port of Newlyn and to the east by the civil parish of Ludgvan. The town's location gives it a temperate climate, warmer than most of the rest of Britain.



Penzance (Pensans), or "holy headland" in the Cornish language, is a reference to the location of the chapel of St. Anthony that stood over a thousand years ago on the headland to the west of what became Penzance Harbour. Until the 1930s this history was also reflected in the choice of symbol for the town, the severed 'holy head' of St. John the Baptist. It can still be seen on the civic regalia of the Mayor of Penzance and on several important landmarks in the town. The only remaining object from this chapel is a carved figure which is now largely eroded known as 'St. Raffidy' which can be found in the churchyard of the parish church of Penzance, St. Mary's near the original site of the chapel.


Bronze and Iron Ages

Evidence of Iron Age settlement can be found in Penzance in a number of sites including Lescudjack Castle, an Iron Age settlement within the current Penzance parish boundaries.

Middle Ages

Evidence of historical settlement from this period can be found in the St Clare area of the town, where a chapel not unlike St Anthony's existed dedicated to St. Clare or Cleer. Throughout the period prior to Penzance gaining borough status in 1614 the village and surrounding areas fell within the control of the Manor of Alverton and was subject to the taxation regime of that manor.

Although the first historical mention of Penzance (as a place for landing fish) was in 1322 in local manorial records,[3] the town was, until the 17th century, overshadowed by its near-neighbour Marazion. (Marazion was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1088 and is the oldest chartered town in Britain, having been granted this status by King Henry III in 1257.) In medieval times and later, Penzance was subject to frequent raiding by "Turkish pirates", in fact Barbary Corsairs.[4] The name of one of Penzance's oldest buildings 'The Turk's Head' pub is said to be a reference to these incidents. There is however, no written evidence to this effect.

Tudor and Stuart period


In the summer of 1578 Penzance was visited by the plague. The burial registers of Madron (where all Penzance births, deaths and marriages were recorded) shows a massive increase in deaths for 1578, from 12 the previous year to 155. This is estimated to be about 10% of the population of the village at the time. The plague also returned in 1647 and the registers again show an increase of from 22 burials to 217 in one year.[5]

Spanish raids

Being at the far west of Cornwall, Penzance and the surrounding villages have been sacked many times by foreign fleets. On July 23rd 1595,[6] several years after the Spanish Armada of 1588, a Spanish force under Don Carlos de Amesquita, which had been patrolling the Channel, landed troops in Cornwall. Amesquita's force seized supplies, raided and burned Penzance and surrounding villages, held a mass, and sailed away before it could be confronted.[7]

Penzance as a town since 1614

The reason for Penzance's relative success probably stems from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries when Henry IV of England granted the town a Royal Market.[8] Henry VIII later granted the right to charge harbour dues,[9] and King James I granted it the status of a borough.

During the English Civil War Penzance was sacked by the forces of Sir Thomas Fairfax apparently for the kindness shown to Lord Goring and Lord Hopton's troops during the conflict.[10]

Penzance borough council undertook several major projects, including the building of the Market House (which was the home of the Corn Exchange and the then Guildhall), and the harbour, the first pier of which was built in 1512.[11] The southern arm of the pier was built in 1766 and extended in 1785.[12]

Civic improvements in this period included the construction in 1759 of a reservoir which supplied water to public pumps in the streets.[13]

Penzance has a long-standing association with the local parish of Madron. Madron Church was in fact the centre of most religious activity in the town until 1871,[14] when St. Mary's Church (prior to this period a Chapel of ease) was granted parish status by church authorities.

1755 tsunami

On 1st November 1755 the Lisbon earthquake caused a tsunami to strike the Cornish coast, over 1,000 miles away from the epicentre. At around 14:00 in the afternoon, the sea rose eight feet in Penzance, came in at great speed, and ebbed at the same rate. Little damage was recorded. [15]

19th century

At the start of the 19th century (1801), the town had a population of 2,248. The census, which is taken every ten years, recorded a peak population in 1861 of 3,843, but it then declined, as in most of Cornwall, through the remainder of the century, being just 3,088 in 1901.[16]

By the time Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837, Penzance had established itself as an important regional centre. The Royal Geological Society of Cornwall was founded in the town in 1814[17] and about 1817 was responsible for introducing a miner's safety tamping bar, which attracted the Prince Regent to become its patron.

The pier had been extended again in 1812 and John Matthews opened a small dry dock in 1814, the first in the South West. In 1840 Nicholas Holman of St Just opened a branch of his foundry business on the quayside.[18] These facilities proved valuable in supporting the steamships that were soon calling at the harbour in increasing numbers.

Gas lighting was introduced in 1830 and the old Market House was demolished in 1836. Its replacement, designed by W. Harris of Bristol, was completed at the top of Market Jew Street in 1838. St Mary's Church, another prominent feature of the Penzance skyline, was completed in 1836, while a Roman Catholic church was built in 1843. Another familiar building from this period is the eccentric Egyptian House in Chapel Street, built in 1830. The first part of the Promenade along the sea front dates from 1844.

After the passing of the Public Health Act (1848), Penzance was one of the first towns to petition to form a local board of health, doing so in September that year. Following a report by a government inspector in February, the Board was established in 1849 which led to many facilities to enhance public health. The report[19] shows that most streets were Macadamised or sometimes paved, and the town was lit by 121 gas lamps from October to March each year, although they were not lit when there was a full moon. Water was supplied from 6 public pumps, and there were a further 53 private wells. There were no sewage pipes at the time, waste being collected from the main streets by a refuse cart.

Penzance railway station, the terminus of the West Cornwall Railway, opened on 11 March 1852[20] on the eastern side of the harbour, although trains only ran to Redruth at first. From 25 August 1852 the line was extended to Truro, but the Cornwall Railway linking that place with Plymouth was not opened until 4 May 1859. Passengers and goods had to change trains at Truro as the West Cornwall had been built using the 4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge, but the Cornwall Railway was built to the 7 ft 0+14 in (2,140 mm) broad gauge. The West Cornwall Railway Act included a clause that it would be converted to broad gauge once it had been connected to another broad gauge line, but the company could not raise the funds to do so.

The line was sold to the Great Western Railway and its "Associated Companies" (the Bristol and Exeter Railway and South Devon Railway) on 1 January 1866. The new owners quickly converted the line to mixed gauge using three rails so that both broad and "narrow" trains could operate. Broad gauge goods trains started running in November that year, with through passenger trains running to London from 1 March 1867.[21] The last broad gauge train arrived at 8.49pm on 20 May 1892, having left London Paddington station at 10.15 that morning. The two locomotives, numbers 1256 and 3557, took the carriages away to Swindon railway works at 9.57, and all trains since have been standard gauge.[22]

The ability of the railway to carry fresh produce to distant markets such as Bristol, London and Manchester enabled local farmers and fishermen to sell more produce and at better prices. The special "perishable" train soon became a feature of the railway, these being fast extra goods trains carrying potatoes, broccoli or fish depending on the season. In August 1861 1,787 tons of potatoes, 867 tons of broccoli, and 1,063 tons of fish were dispatched from the station.[23] Fruit and flowers were also carried; the mild climate around Penzance and on the Scilly Isles meant that they were ready for market earlier and could command high prices.

The completion of the railway through Cornwall made it easier for tourists and invalids to enjoy the mild climate of Penzance. Bathing machines had been advertised for hire on the beach as early as 1823,[24] and the town was already "noted for the pleasantness of its situation, the salubrity of its air, and the beauty of its natives".[25] The town's first official guide book was published in 1860 and the Queen's Hotel opened on the sea front the following year. It was so successful that it was extended in 1871 and 1908.

At the same time as the railway was being built more improvements were being made to the harbour, with a second pier on the eastern side of the harbour, the Albert Pier, completed in 1853 to provide even better shelter for shipping,[26] and a lighthouse built on the Old Pier in 1855. The Scilly Isles Steam Navigation Company was founded in 1858 and placed in service the first steam ship on the route, SS Little Western. In 1870 the new West Cornwall Steam Ship Company joined the route, taking over the Scilly Isles Company the following year.[27]

Penzance, with its dry dock and engineering facilities, was chosen as the western depot for Trinity House that serviced all the lighthouses and lightships from Start Point to Trevose Head. It was opened in 1866 adjacent to the harbour and the Buoy Store became the Trinity House National Lighthouse Museum until 2005 when Trinity House closed the museum.

Inside the new station.
Penzance Harbour.

In 1875 a local newspaper described the railway station as a large dog's house of the nastiest and draughtiest kind[23] but a series of works improved this part of the town during the 1880s. The original station was rebuilt with the present buildings and train shed over the platforms (1880). The lower end of Market Jew Street was widened and a new road was built to link the station with the harbour over the Ross Swing Bridge (1881), allowing the construction of proper sewers beneath. A larger dry dock replaced Matthews' original facility (1880), and a floating harbour was made (1884) with lock gates to keep in the water at low tide.

Around the headland, public baths were opened on the Promenade in 1887 and the Morrab Gardens with its sub-tropical plants was opened two years later. A bandstand was added to the gardens in 1897.[23]

20th century

In 1901 the town had a population of 3,088. The decennial census recorded a continuing decline in population until 1921, when just 2,616 people were recorded. The population then climbed to 4,888 (1931) then 5,545 (1951) - thus more than doubling in 30 years. It was now larger than at any time in the past.[28] (The census boundaries changed in 1981 so these figures do not directly compare with those stated for the current population)

A proposed electric tramway along the Promenade to Newlyn, which would have continued as a light railway to St Just, failed to gain authorisation in 1898. Instead motor buses were put into service on 31 October 1903.[29] These linked Penzance with Marazion and were operated by the Great Western Railway, being introduced only 11 weeks after the railway's pioneering service between Helston and The Lizard. They were considered a success, carrying 16,091 passengers by the end of the year, so were followed the next spring by further routes to Land's End and St Just. These services developed into the First Devon and Cornwall bus network that currently serves the area and is still centred on a terminus alongside Penzance railway station.

The dry dock was sold on 25 August 1904 to N. Holman and Sons Limited, the engineering business that had been trading in Penzance since 1840. New workshops were built during the 1930s and the facility continued to be used by the Scilly ferries and other merchant ships, as well as Trinity House, the Royal Navy and Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service. In 1951 a new vessel for the King Harry Ferry on the River Fal was launched, built on the keel of an old landing craft. A steam tug, the Primrose, was built in 1963.[30]

Land was reclaimed beside the Albert Pier in the 1930s to allow the railway station to be enlarged at a cost of £134,000.[23] The 1880 building was retained, but extra platforms and sidings were provided to handle more perishable goods, as well as the increasing numbers of tourists.

In 1905 a new bandstand was built on the Promenade opposite the Queen's Hotel, and the Pavilion Theatre opened nearby in 1911, complete with a roof garden and cafe.[31] Travel to Penzance was easier than ever, with the Great Western Railway introducing the Cornish Riviera Express on 1 July 1904, which left London Paddington at 10:10 and arrived in Penzance just 7 hours later, two hours faster than the previous quickest service.[32] (In 2007 it leaves Paddington at 10:05 and takes 5 hours and 5 minutes.) The railway promoted local tourism with postcards that were sold at its stations, and an annual guide book, The Cornish Riviera, in which SPB Mais described the town as "a suburb of Covent Garden, and a great fishing centre ... there is always something going on in its harbour".[33]

1923 saw a new road link the harbour area and the Promenade, and in 1933 the St. Anthony Gardens were built, followed two years later by the Jubilee Bathing Pool opposite. Tourists could now make full use of the whole seafront between Penzance and Newlyn harbours.


Penzance is approximately 5 miles (8 kilometres) from the end of the A30 road and 286 miles (460 km) or 5 hours[34] by car from London.

Penzance railway station is at the bottom of Market Jew Street and close to the harbour. It is the western terminus of the Cornish Main Line which runs above the beach to Marazion, affording passengers good views of St. Michael's Mount and Mount's Bay. Most services[35] are operated by First Great Western, both local services to St Erth, St Ives, Hayle, Camborne, Redruth, and Truro, and direct trains linking Penzance with Plymouth, Exeter St Davids, Bristol Temple Meads, Reading and London Paddington. The Night Riviera train offers an overnight sleeping car service to and from Reading and London. Journey time to Plymouth is typically under 2 hours; to Bristol around 4 hours, and London less than 5½ hours.

CrossCountry run a small number of services (departing in the morning, returning in the evening) to Glasgow Central via Bristol, Birmingham New Street, Preston and Carlisle, also to Dundee via Bristol, Birmingham, Leeds, York, Newcastle and Edinburgh Waverley. The journey time is just under 5½ hours to Birmingham, and nearly 10 hours to Glasgow.

The bus and coach station is next to the railway station from where National Express operates coach services to London Victoria (taking around 9 hours) via Heathrow Airport. Local bus services run by First Devon and Cornwall connect Penzance with most major settlements in Cornwall, including Truro, St. Ives, St Just, St Buryan, Land's End, and also Plymouth in Devon.

Sikorsky S-61N Echo Bravo departing Penzance Heliport for the Isles of Scilly during August 2006

A ferry service is operated between Penzance Harbour and the Isles of Scilly by The Scillonian III, carrying both foot-passengers and cargo. Sailing time is approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes. An helicopter service operates from Penzance Heliport to the Isles of Scilly[36] run by British International Helicopters. Flying time is approximately 20 minutes. A bus service run by the Skybus Airline Service connects with Land's End Airport for fixed wing flights (15 minutes) to the Isles of Scilly. The buses leave from the railway station, near the taxi rank, rather than the bus station. In December, the Heliport also offers short evening flights over Mousehole and Newlyn to view the Christmas lights. The Heliport is one of only eleven heliports in the UK.[37]

Newquay Airport[38] is 41 miles (66 km) away and offers flights to Gatwick, Stansted, Dublin, Cork and many other places, including an increasing number of foreign destinations. Plymouth Airport,[39] 77 miles (124 km) away, has services to Gatwick, Bristol, Dublin and Manchester.


The coat of arms granted to Penzance Municipal Borough Council in 1934

Common seal of the Borough of Penzance, used in lieu of a coat of arms 1614 - 1934 (now the Mayoral Seal)

Until 1934 the Borough of Penzance referred only to the town, but has since been extended to include the nearby settlements of Newlyn, Mousehole, Gulval and Heamoor. The Civil Parish of Penzance was further extended in 2004 under District of Penwith (Electoral Changes) Order 2002[40] to include Eastern Green, formerly part of the Ludgvan civil parish area.

In 1974 the Penzance Borough was abolished and replaced, first by the Penzance Charter Trustees and then from 1980 by Penzance Town Council. The principal local authority in the area is now Cornwall Council. For the purposes of election to Cornwall Council the civil parish of Penzance returns 6 members representing the Penzance East Division, Penzance Central Division, Penzance Promenade Division, Heamoor and Gulval and Newlyn and Mousehole Division.

Penzance Town Council does not have in place a system of political registration so councillors do not form groups of any kind and technically act independently, however the current political composition of the council (as of 22 August 2009) is as follows: Independent 10, Liberal Democrats 8, Mebyon Kernow 1 with one vacancy.

Penzance also elects a mayor every year in May from the members of Penzance town council. Although mayors have a political affiliation, this position is largely ceremonial.

The current mayor is Roy Mann an Independent and the Deputy Mayor is Jan Ruhrmund, of the Liberal Democrats


Penzance Harbour and surrounding area as seen from the air

The economy of Penzance has, like those of many Cornish communities, suffered from the decline of the traditional industries of fishing, mining and agriculture. Penzance now has a mixed economy consisting of light industrial, tourism and retail businesses. However, like the rest of Cornwall, housing remains comparatively expensive, wages low and unemployment high. House prices have risen 274% in 10 years, the fastest rise in the UK.[41] The fishing port of Newlyn, which falls within the parish boundaries, provides some employment in the area, but has also been greatly affected by the decline in the fishing industry over the last 30 years. In the 2004 index of deprivation Penzance is listed as having 3 wards within the top 10% for employment deprivation, Penzance East (125th most deprived in England) Penzance West (200th most deprived in England), and Penzance Central (712th most deprived in England).[42] 18-31% of households in the parish are described as "poor households".[43] The Penzance East Ward also has one the highest unemployment rates in Cornwall, stated as 15.4%.[43]


Following Sir Humphry Davy’s contribution to the mining industry, The Miners' Association began mining classes in Penzance. As mining in the area became more complex, the Penzance Mining and Science School was founded in 1890. The school continued to teach mining until 1910, when it was amalgamated with Camborne and Redruth Mining School forming the School of Metalliferous Mining in Camborne, which is now known as the Camborne School of Mines. This institution has now moved to the Combined Universities in Cornwall campus at Tremough, Falmouth. From 1663, Penzance [44] was a coinage town, responsible for the collection of tin taxation on behalf of the Duchy of Cornwall; it held this status for 176 years.[45] According to William Pryce in his 1778 book Mineralogia Cornubiensis, Penzance coined more tin than the towns of Liskeard, Lostwithiel, and Helston put together. Penzance also had its own submarine mine situated off the coast of the town next to the area known as Wherrytown. The mine, known as Wheal Wherry, was worked from 1778 to 1798 and again from 1836 to 1840.[46] Founded by "a poor 57 year old miner" named Thomas Curtis, the mine was said to be "very rich at depth" and was connected to the shore by a wooden bridge; the ore was transported by Wherry boat. The mine suffered considerable damage in 1798 when an American ship broke anchor off nearby Newlyn and smashed into the bridge and head gear. Later attempts at mining were not as profitable.[47] During the 19th century and until 1912, Penzance had the largest tin smelting house in Cornwall, operated by the Bolitho family. The smelting works were situated at Chyandour.[48] As a consequence of this concentration of mining wealth, Penzance became a centre for commercial banking. The Bolitho Bank (now part of Barclays Bank)[49] and the Penzance Bank were two of the largest, although the latter collapsed in 1896.

Main sights

Church in Penzance.
The Humphry Davy Statue and the Penzance Market House.

Large sections of the Penzance Parish are classified as conservation areas under the Penwith local plan[50] and are subject to special planning laws. The current conservation area forms most of the core of the town of Penzance and the historic harbour areas of Newlyn and Mousehole.[51] A number of Georgian and Regency buildings are present in the town. However, the majority of developments in the town centre itself are of mixed date, including several 20th century buildings - one of which, the former Pearl Assurance building (now the Tremenheere Wetherspoons pub), was subject to comment by Sir John Betjeman[52] who wrote, in 1963:

Penzance has done much to destroy its attractive character. The older houses in the narrow centre round the market hall have been pulled down and third-rate commercial 'contemporary', of which the Pearl Assurance building is a nasty example, are turning it into Slough.

There are three large residential council estates in Penzance: Penalverne, Treneere (both built in the 1930s) and the Princess Royal estate at Alverton (built in the early 1950s). Much of the housing with this area is owned and operated by Penwith Housing Association. The sub-tropical Morrab Gardens, has a large collection of tender trees and shrubs, many of which cannot be grown outdoors anywhere else in the UK. Penzance Regency and Georgian terraces and houses are common in some parts of the town.

Penzance's former main street Chapel Street has a number of interesting features including the Egyptian House, The Union Hotel (including a Georgian theatre which is no longer in use) and The Branwell House, where the mother and aunt of the famous Brontë sisters once lived.

Jubilee Pool, Penzance

Also of interest is the seafront with its promenade and the open-air seawater Jubilee Bathing Pool (one of the oldest surviving Art Deco swimming baths in the country), built at the beginning of the 20th century during Penzance's heyday as a fashionable seaside resort. The pool was designed by Captain F. Latham, the Penzance Borough Engineer and opened in 1935, the year of King George V's Silver Jubilee.[53] Penzance promenade itself has been destroyed in parts several times by storms. The most recent example was on 7 March 1962 (Ash Wednesday), when large parts of the western end of the promenade, the nearby Beford Bolitho Gardens (now a play park) and the village of Wherrytown suffered severe damage.[54]


Penlee Quarry which is within the boundaries of the Penzance parish is a geological SSSI.


Penzance is home to two state run comprehensive schools (Mount's Bay and Humphry Davy School) and one Church of England independent school (Bolitho School). Bolitho School was founded in the early 1990s following the financial collapse of the former School of St. Clare. Post 16 education is catered for by Penwith College, founded in 1981 from the sixth form departments of the former Penzance Girls' Grammar School and the Humphry Davy Grammar School.[55] Throughout the Penzance parish there are 8 primary schools including the newly created Pensans Primary School which was formed in 2006 from the former Penzance Junior School and the Lescudjack Infants School. There is also a special educational needs school within the parish boundary named Nancealverne.



Every June since 1991, the Golowan Festival (which includes Mazey Day) has been held in the town. Before the 1930s Penzance was the scene of large May Day celebrations, which saw local children making and using tin 'May horns' and 'May whistles'a small revival of these traditions will take place on May 4th 2008. The Feast Day of Corpus Christi was also celebrated in Penzance. The Corpus Christi fair has been a long standing event in the town, and is currently undergoing attempts to revive it in a more traditional format.

Mayor and Mock Mayor speeches at the Golowan Festival 2005.

Allantide, a Cornish version of Halloween, was also a popular activity in the town. Many of these customs were recorded by local antiquarian M. A. Courtney and have influenced historical views of traditional Cornish cultural activities.

Every December Penzance holds the Montol Festival a community arts event reviving many of the Cornish customs of Christmas including Guise dancing.

Music and theatre

Penzance is the home of the pirates in Gilbert and Sullivan's opera The Pirates of Penzance. At the time the libretto was written, 1879, Penzance had become popular as a peaceful resort town, so the very idea of it being overrun by pirates was amusing.

Penzance is home to the Acorn Theatre sited within a former Methodist chapel. The theatre provides a mixture of theatre, film, dance music and cabaret and is partially public funded. The Savoy is an independent cinema located in the town which opened in 1912 and was originally named the Victoria Hall Music Hall, The Savoy is one of the locations of performances sponsored by the Penwith Film Society (an arts cinema society based in the Penwith area). It is reputedly the oldest continuously used cinema in Britain. Prior to World War II, Penzance was also home to a further 3 cinemas and at least 2 theatres, one of which, the Pavilion Theatre, is now home to an amusement arcade.

Art galleries

Penzance is home to the new Newlyn Art Gallery establishment "The Exchange" which opened in 2007. Penzance is also the home of Penlee House, an art gallery and museum notable for its collection of paintings by members of the Newlyn School. Within Penzance town centre there are a growing number of commercial art galleries.


Like other Cornish towns Methodism is the predominant Christian denomination. Prior to the 1980s Penzance had six Methodist churches, but this number has now been reduced to three, one of these being Newlyn Trinity Methodist Church. Penzance is also home to a Salvation Army citadel, a Roman Catholic church, two Church of England parish churches (formerly three), a Christadelphian meeting hall,[56] two Evangelical independent churches, the Penwith pagan moot, an independent Baptist church and a Buddhist meditation group.

St Mary's Church was built in 1832-35, St Paul's (now closed) in 1843 and St John's in 1881. Penzance was formerly in the parish of Madron St Mary's parish was established in 1871 and St Paul's in 1869. Two medieval chapels are known to have existed before the Reformation.[57]


Penzance was, until recently, the home of Cornwall's most successful rugby team, the Penzance Pirates (Penzance and Newlyn RFC). The National Division 1 side relocated to Truro in 2005 in a bid to reach the Premiership and was renamed as the Cornish Pirates. In 2006 the side relocated again this time to the home ground of Camborne Rugby Club. Penzance was also home to Mount's Bay RFC a rugby club founded in 1999. This club folded in 2009 due to financial problems.

Penzance A.F.C. play in the Carlsberg South West Peninsula League Premier Division and are currently managed by Trevor Mewton. The Reserve team play in the Jolly's Cornwall Combination League and are managed by Rob Flack. Penzance was one of the original clubs of the Cornwall County Football Association, the others being Porthcurno, Truro, Probus School, Torpoint, Liskeard, Dunheved College and Millbrook.

Former England and Surrey cricketer Jack Richards (born Clifton James Richards) was born in Penzance. Although he only played 8 test matches, Richards was the wicket keeper during England's Ashes win in 1986.

The Mini Transat 6.50 (now the Transit 6.50) transatlantic yacht race started from Penzance (hosted by Penzance Sailing Club) from its conception in 1977 to the fourth edition of the race in 1983.


The local newspaper is The Cornishman, published weekly. Both ITV television (Westcountry Television) and BBC Radio Cornwall have small news studios in the town. The ILR station for Cornwall, Pirate FM, can be received in Penzance on 102.8 MHz FM

Notable residents past and present

The celebrated scientist Sir Humphry Davy

Penzance has been home to numerous persons of note over the years including actress Thandie Newton, model Jean Shrimpton and cricketer Jack Richards (For a full list see List of notable residents of Penzance). Arguably Penzance's most famous son, though, was Sir Humphry Davy.

Sir Humphry Davy

Penzance was the birthplace of the famous chemist Sir Humphry Davy. Davy was President of the Royal Society and invented the process of electrolysis, was the first person to isolate sodium, was the first person to discover laughing gas, as well as proving (with Michael Faraday) that diamonds are made of pure carbon. Today he is possibly best known as the inventor of the Miner's Safety Lamp, or Davy Lamp. There is a statue of Davy at the top of Market Jew Street, near the house in which he was born. One of Penzance's secondary schools is also named after the scientist, and runs as a music and maths community college. [9]


Penzance is twinned with the following towns:[58] Concarneau in Brittany, France, Bendigo in Australia, and Nevada City, California in the USA. From 1967 to 1974 and again since 1 April 2009, Penzance has been twinned with Cuxhaven in Germany. Between 1974 and 2009 this twinning arrangement was passed to the now defunct Penwith District Council.

See also


  1. ^ Penzance Charter of Incorporation dated 9 May 1614, held by Penzance Town Council
  2. ^ Office for National Statistics : Census 2001 : Parish Headcounts : Penwith Retrieved 2009-12-23
  3. ^ Extent of the property held by the Manor of Alverton and accounts transcribed by Mr Paul Brand from the original held in the National Archives
  4. ^ Canon Diggens Archive 1910
  5. ^ Notes on the Madron Parish Registers -Canon Jennings
  6. ^ A History of the Church in Paul Parish by G. M. Trelease
  7. ^ A detailed description of the Spanish raid of 1595 can be found here
  8. ^ Grant of Market to Thomas Lord Berkley 8 April 1404
  9. ^ Grant of harbour dues Henry VIII 16 March 1512
  10. ^ Lewis (1831) Topographical Dictionary of England
  11. ^ Guthrie, A. (1994). Cornwall in the Age of Steam. Padstow: Tabb House. ISBN 1-873951-16-7.  
  12. ^ Kittridge, Alan (1989). Cornwall's Maritime Heritage. Truro: Twelveheads Press. ISBN 0-906294-15-0.  
  13. ^ Bennett, Alan (1987). Cornwall Through the Mid 19th Century. Southampton: Kingfisher Railway Publications. ISBN 0-946184-26-7.  
  14. ^ The online parish clerk
  15. ^ [1] Sources of Cornish History - The Lisbon Earthquake
  16. ^ UK & Ireland Genealogogy - Penzance
  17. ^ Murray's Handbook of Devon and Cornwall. London: John Murray. 1859.  
  18. ^ Carter, Clive. "If it's metal take it to Holman's". Archive (Lightmoor Press) 3: 49–64.  
  19. ^ Bennett, Alan (1987). Cornwall Through the Mid Nineteenth Century. Southampton: Kingfisher Railway Publications. ISBN 0-946184-26-7.  
  20. ^ Langley, RC (2002). The West Cornwall Railway. Usk: Oakwood Press. ISBN 0-85361-589-6.  
  21. ^ MacDermot, ET (1931). History of the Great Western Railway, Vol. 2 1863 - 1921. London: Great Western Railway.  
  22. ^ Sheppard, Geof (2002). "The Last Broad Gauge Train". Broadsheet (Broad Gauge Society) 47: 26–34.  
  23. ^ a b c d Bennett, Alan (1988). The Great Western Railway in West Cornwall. Cheltenham: Runpast Publishing. doi:1990. ISBN 1-870754-12-3.  
  24. ^ Guthrie, A (1994). Cornwall in the Age of Steam. Padstow: Tabb House. ISBN 1-873951-16-7.  
  25. ^ Stockdale, FWL (1824). Excursions in the County of Cornwall. London: Simpkin and Marshall.   (Reprinted by D Bradford Barton, Truro, 1972)
  26. ^ Kittridge, Alan (1989). Cornwall's Maritime Heritage. Truro: Twelveheads Press. ISBN 0-906294-15-0.  
  27. ^ Duckworth, CLD; Langmuir, GE (1948). Railway and other Steamers. Preston: T Stephenson. doi:1968.  
  28. ^ UK & Ireland Genealogogy - Penzance
  29. ^ Kelley, Philip J (1973). Road Vehicles of the Great Western Railway. Headington: Oxford Publishing. ISBN 090288-12-9.  
  30. ^ Carter, Clive. "If it's metal take it to Holman's". Archive (Lightmoor Press) 3: 49–64.  
  31. ^ Bennett, Alan (1988). The Great Western Railway in West Cornwall. Cheltenham: Runpast Publishing. doi:1990. ISBN 1-870754-12-3.  
  32. ^ Langley, RC (2002). The West Cornwall Railway. Usk: Oakwood Press. ISBN 0-85361-589-6.  
  33. ^ Mais, SPB (1928). The Cornish Riviera. London: Great Western Railway. doi:Third edition, 1934.  
  34. ^ Market Jew Street to Trafalgar Square, calculated using The AA Route Planner
  35. ^ Penzance railway station live departure information
  36. ^ [2] Isles of Scilly helicopter homepage
  37. ^ [3]CIA World Factbook
  38. ^ [4] Newquay Airport
  39. ^ [5] Plymouth Airport
  40. ^ The District of Penwith (Electoral Changes) Order 2002
  41. ^ BBC article 27 October 2007, House price report
  42. ^ 2004 indices of deprivation - Employment deprivation index
  43. ^ a b Bristol University regional poverty files - West Cornwall
  44. ^ Coinage charter granted by Charles II 18 August 1663
  45. ^ PAS Pool History of the Borough and Town of Penzance 1974 page 74
  46. ^ Mines and Miners Of Cornwall Vol 4. pages 17-21
  47. ^ mine information [6]
  48. ^ PAS Pool history of the town and Borough of Penzance 1974
  49. ^ Company History Barclays PLC Website
  50. ^ Penwith District Council - Sustainable Development Policy (Planning Policy)
  51. ^ List of Penwith conservation areas from PenwitH Council Website [7]
  52. ^ The History of the Town and Borough of Penzance 1974 PAS Pool - Review of Architecture
  53. ^ Janet Smith Liquid Assets - the lidos and open air swimming pools of Britain ISBN 0954744500
  54. ^ History of the town and Borough of Penzance
  55. ^ West Penwith Resources Schools [8]
  56. ^ "Find your Local Christadelphians: Penzance". Retrieved 2007-02-14.  
  57. ^ Cornish Church Guide (1925) Truro: Blackford; pp. 177-178
  58. ^ Information supplied by Penzance Concarneau Twinning Assocciation Chair Mrs D Cotton and The Penzance, Bendigo and Nevada City Twinning Association

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Penzance is in Cornwall. It is a market town and port with a varied and interesting history, famous for its association with the Gilbert and Sullivan opera The Pirates of Penzance. Penzance is an ideal base for exploring the Penwith area of Cornwall and is increasingly attracting those interested in 'Cultural Tourism' because of its long association with the arts.

The Market House Penzance.
The Market House Penzance.
Penzance is also the home of the major links to and from the Isles of Scilly via Helicopter service and ferry.
  • By road: 5-6 hour drive from London via the M4, M5 and A30 (including the new piece of dual carriageway by the Newquay turn which should alleviate traffic jams in the summer)
  • By train: Trains run daily from London Paddington (8 daily, 5 hours) and Plymouth (15 daily, 2 hours), also via Bristol (4 hours), Birmingham (5 hours) and onwards to the North of the UK (Crewe, York, Newcastle, Edinburgh (1 daily, 16 hours) and Glasgow (2 daily, 16 hours)). There is also a overnight sleeper train "The Night Riviera", this excellent service is arguably the most relaxing way to Penzance. It runs Sun-Fri nights to/from London Paddington. (Have a night out in the West End of London, before jumping in a taxi to Paddington, get the 23.50 hours sleeper train to Penzance, wake up at 8am as the train pulls into Penzance and the sea air will quickly get rid of any hangover from late night boozing in the train bar!)
  • By coach: National Express Coach Services from London Victoria (9 hours). Tedious, but can be a cheap option (buy a funfare London to Plymouth for £1, then a return Plymouth to Penzance for £6, as long as your funfare is on a Penzance bound coach you won't need to change at Plymouth).

Get around

Penzance and the surrounding area are well served by local bus services. More information is available from the First Bus Cornwall . Note that Sunday services can be quite limited. Routes catering tourists will often only run in the summer months.

  • See entry on Newlyn/Mousehole - villages 2-4 miles away on Mount's Bay
  • The Western Greyhound (formally Sunset) Bus route to St Ives is very picturesque and stops at Zennor on the way. Grand coastal and moorland scenery all the way!
  • Trips to the Isles of Scilly via ship (The Scillonian III), helicopter (the heliport is near Tescos) and fixed-wing aircraft (from Land's End Airport). Mini buses run from Penzance station to the heliport and airport.
  • Fishing and sailing trips from the harbour.
  • Bus service to Land's End.
  • Fishermen's Memorial statue - Newlyn Promenade.
  • First's 300 service is an open-topped double-decker tourist bus that travels around Penwith, from Penzance to Land's End via Mousehole and Newlyn and then back to Penzance via Cape Cornwall, Pendeen and Zennor.
The Egyptian House
The Egyptian House

Throughout the town there are numerous examples of Regency and Georgian Architecture. Penzance is also home to a lengthy promenade built in the 1840's. Admire the cool white art deco Jubilee Pool and see the "ballet of the waves" as they crash into the sea wall (particularly spectacular opposite the handsome Queen's Hotel which is worth visiting for its splendid paintings from Newlyn School artists.) Morrab Gardens situated in the centre of the town is a fine example of a 'sub-tropical' public garden. Penzance has an array of interesting buildings including 'The Egyptian House' built in an 'Egyptian' Style, The Market House -described as one of the finest examples of regional architecture in the UK, and many other examples. The walk down Chapel Street towards St Mary's Church and the harbour is a delight! Look out for the quaint Turk's Head Inn and the pirate on the roof of the Admiral Benbow pub! The 'Union Hotel' in Chapel Street was allegedly the first place in Britain where the death of Admiral Lord Nelson was announced. At the rear of this hotel were the remains of a Georgian Theatre but they have not been preserved. St Johns Hall (Penzance's Town Hall) is one of the largest purely granite structures in the world.

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Penzance is the home of Penlee House museum and gallery which is home to a wide selection of paintings from the 'Newlyn School' of painters including Stanhope Forbes. Penlee House

Penzance is home to the Golowan Festival which occurs ever year at the end of June. This festival is part revival of ancient midsummer customs practiced in the Penzance area (and throughout Cornwall) and part arts festival.Golowan Festival Mazey Eve, Mazey Day and Quay Fair Day form the core of the festival and attract many thousands of people. From December 2007 Penzance will be also home to the new Montol Festival Festival website a celebration of the Cornish traditions of Christmas and midwinter, culminating on December the 21st each year with Montol Eve.

Look out for concerts by local choirs including Newlyn Male Choir, Penzance Choral Society, Mounts Bay Singers, Ladies Orpheus Choir.

Looking for action? Visit a state-of-the-art outdoor lazertag (lazer combat) site called Covert Combat. Cinema - visit the Savoy in Causewayhead. Built in 1912, one of the earliest in the country! There's plenty for the young (and young at heart!) to do in Penzance.

Guided walks with Western Discoveries. Historical and folklore based tours of Penwith's ancient monuments. See for further details

Penzance has a good selection of sports facilities including the Penwith Leisure Centre Penwith Leisure Centre. Excellent Tennis facilities are also available at the Penzance Tennis Club site which has been recently revamped .Penzance Tennis.

Penzance is also home to a large open air art deco style swimming pool called the Jubilee Pool Jubilee Pool Pictures

Tate Gallery has opened at The Exchange. Installation art and smart cafe.

Nearby Newlyn is host to the Newlyn Fish Festival which is held on the last monday of August every year Newlyn Fish Festival

Mousehole and Newlyn are famous for their Christmas Lights.

The Penzance, Newlyn and Mousehole town trails are available from the Penzance Town Council offices [1] and local outlets these planned walks are an excellent way to see the unique history of these areas.

For those interested in all things book related Penzance has excellent private library - The Morrab Library [2] includes a Celtic Studies section.


Penzance has a reasonable selection of shops including national retail chains and small independent outlets.

  • Good secondhand bookshops in Causeway Head and Chapel Street. New books from shops in Market Jew Street and Chapel Street.
  • Art galleries (shops) in Causewayhead, Market Jew Street and Chapel Street.
  • Market Plaice Fish Bar Serving the community with Fish & Chips for 50 years
  • Admiral Benbow, 46 Chapel St, phone 01736-363448. offers traditional British food, has a maritime feel.
  • The Meadery There are several meaderies in Penzance. These restaurants started as medieval theme eating places but have evolved into almost a Cornish tradition. Recommended is the Waterside meadery situated next to Penzance Harbour.
  • Abbey Restaurant, near Chapel Street Area. Expensive but good food.
  • The Ganges, Chapel Street area. Good value and Good Quality Indian Restaurant.
  • Muffins, Bread Street. Excellent range of healthily-made home-cooked meals, cakes and refreshments. Art gallery also!
  • Green Bean Coffee Co. Penzance's best coffee served with a smile, and the food isn't to bad either!!
  • The Sea Palace is Cornwall's No.1 destination for traditional Cantonese and Peking Cuisine, offering an excellent dining experience in a truly unique atmosphere. Reservations recommended to avoid disappointment.
  • Poolside Indulgence Situated next to the open air pool, this is the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon. The home made cake is a must!!!
  • The Lime Tree Lounge/Bar and Restaurant with a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere, serving delicious locally sourced food
  • Taj Mahal Indian Restaurant The Tah Mahal serves the finest Tandoori and Indian cuisine in Penzance. Great food in a modern setting, just a stones throw from the sea front.

For those seeking to eat a Cornish Pasty while in Penzance - The best in town are served in Lavenders, Alverton Street. (Tip - it is correct to eat pasties from the END, not in the middle!)

As an alternative, Pellows up Causewayhead do the biggest pasty in town - its humungus, and cheap at 250p. But there are plenty of others on offer, Rowes, Warrens. If you can seek out Philps of Hayle!


Penzance and the surrounding area have a large number of pubs. Particularly good is the Turk's Head in Chapel Street.

  • The Dolphin, right by the harbour wall is full of character and has a great jukebox!

Late night drinking is normally confined to the towns 2 night clubs which are normally open until 3-4am at the weekend:

  • Club 2000 - near the train station, sometimes live music and big name DJs, lots catering for the Ecstasy culture.
  • The Barn Club - 1 mile out of town near the Tesco supermarket - free buses run on Friday & Saturday nights from most pubs in town - just follow the drunk people. Cheesy music and fat girls. Worth visiting once in your life, but get it whilst it remains hot; there are plans to turn this popular dancing venue into a strip club.

Live music sometimes happens at the Acorn Theatre, and theres an excellent monthly comedy night there as well.

  • Various B&Bs all over the town, lots along Alexandra Road. Penzance Tourist Information Centre (TIC) 01736 362207 can check availability for you.
  • Queens Hotel - on the promenade - victorian style, but a bit run down in recent years.
  • Blueseas Guest House, 13 Regent Terrace, 01736 364 744, [3]. Guest house overlooking the Promenade .
  • Youth Hostel - located about 2 miles from the town centre.
  • Penzance backpackers - a more central youth hostel.
  • Shoreline Guesthouse 17 Marine Terrace, The Promenade, Penzance. Tel: 01736 366 821. Directly on the seafront with amazing sea views. [4]

Get out

Good base for trips to Hayle, St Ives, Marazion, Porthleven, Helston, Truro, Redruth and Camborne.

  • Isles of Scilly - day trips or longer stays available via Helicopter, ferry or fixed-wing aircraft.
  • Sennen beach - about 9 miles from Penzance - lovelly beach, although busy in summer.
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PENZANCE, a municipal borough, market town and seaport in the St Ives parliamentary division of Cornwall, England, the terminus of the Great Western railway, 3251 m. W.S.W. of London. Pop. (1901), 13,136. It is finely situated on the western shore of Mount's Bay, opposite St Michael's Mount, being the westernmost port in England. The site of the old town slopes sharply upward from the harbour, to the west of which there extends an esplanade and modern residential quarter; for Penzance, with its mild climate, is in considerable favour as a health resort. The town has no buildings of great antiquity, but the public buildings (1867), in Italian style, are handsome. By the market house is a statue of Sir Humphry Davy, who was born here in 1778. Among institutions there are a specially fine public library, museums of geology and natural history and antiquities, mining and science schools, the West Cornwall Infirmary and a meteorological station. The harbour, enclosed within a breakwater, has an area of 24 acres, with 12 to 16 ft. depth of water, and floating and graving docks. There is a large export trade in fish, including that of pilchards to Italy. Other exports are tin and copper, granite, serpentine, vegetables and china clay. Imports are principally coal, iron and timber. Great quantities of early potatoes and vegetables, together with flowers and fish, are sent to London and elsewhere. The borough is under a mayor, 6 aldermen and 18 councillors. Area, 355 acres.

Nearly two miles inland to the north-west is Madron (an urban district with a population of 3486). The church of St Maddern is principally Perpendicular, with earlier portions and a Norman front. Near the village a "wishing well" of ancient fame is seen, and close to it the ruins of a baptistery of extreme antiquity. Monoliths and cromlechs are not uncommon in the neighbourhood. Three miles north-east is the urban district of Ludgvan (pop. 2274), and to the south is Paul (6332), which includes the village of Newlyn.

Penzance (Pensans) was not recognized as a port until the days of the Tudors, but its importance as a fishing village dates from the 14th century. In 1327 thirty burgesses in Penzance and thirteen boats paying 13s. yearly are found among the possessions of the lords of Alverton, of which manor it formed a portion of the demesne lands. The year 1512 marks the beginning of a new era. Until then St Michael's Mount had been regarded as the port of Mounts Bay; but in that year Henry VIII. granted the tenants of Penzance whatever profits might accrue from the "ankerage, kylage and busselage" of ships resorting thither, so long as they should repair and maintain the quay and bulwarks for the safeguard of the ships and town. Nevertheless thirty years later it is described by Leland as the westernmost market town in Cornwall "with no socur for Botes or shippes but a forsed Pere or Key." During the war with Spain the town was devastated in 1595. The charter of incorporation granted in 1614 states that by the invasion of the Spaniards it had been treacherously spoiled and burnt but that its strength, prosperity and usefulness for navigation, and the acceptable and laudable services of the inhabitants in rebuilding and fortifying it, and their enterprise in erecting a pier, have moved the king to grant the petition for its incorporation. This charter provides for a mayor, eight aldermen and twelve assistants to constitute the common council, the mayor to be chosen by the council from the aldermen, the aldermen to be chosen from the assistants, and the assistants from the most sufficient and discreet of the inhabitants. It also ratified Henry's grant of anchorage, keelage and busselage. In 1663 Ienzance was constituted a coinage town for tin. It has never enjoyed independent parliamentary representation. In 1332 a market on Wednesdays and a fair at the Feast of St Peter ad Vincula were granted to Alice de Lisle and in 1405 this market was ratified and three additional fairs added, viz. at the feasts of St Peter in Cathedra and the Conception and Nativity of the Blessed Virgin. The charter of 1614 substituted markets on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the Wednesday market and added two fairs one at Corpus Christi and the other on the Thursday before St Andrew. Of the fairs only Corpus Christi remains; markets are now held on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Apart from fishing and shipping, Penzance has never been an industrial centre.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Wikipedia has an article on:


Proper noun


  1. A coastal town and port in Cornwall, England

Simple English

Penzance (Pennsans in Cornish) is a town in Cornwall, England. It is near Land's End. Many people live and work in Penzance.

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