By Mark McConville
INCREDIBLE images revealing the beauty of Cornwall in the Victorian Era have been featured in a new book.
The stunning pictures show a couple sitting on steps outside their house in St Ives, the famous King Harry Ferry in Truro and a man called Billy Renfree and a fishwife filling up his basket on his donkey.
Other striking shots show Carnon Viaduct which carries the railway from Truro to Falmouth, Breage miners in full working gear and hats and Launceston Castle which is thought to have been built by Robert the Count of Mortain after 1068.
The remarkable photographs are showcased in Malcolm McCarthy’s new book, Victorian Cornwall: A Look at Cornwall Through the Eyes of our Forefathers, published by Fonthill Media.
“In 1977, I left my beloved Padstow for the big smoke as a nineteen-year-old who had been mollycoddled at home,” writes McCarthy.
“To fight my homesickness and also fuel my love of local history, I started collecting postcards of my native town and district; these were readily available at regular postcard fairs.
“I collected for nearly forty years, then after reading Professor Charles Thomas’s scholarly work on early Cornish photography, Views and Likenesses, I was inspired to expand my collection; my passion now began encompassing early Cornish photos.
“I marvel at the atmosphere of these images, but I also like to ponder on the lives of those long dead souls.”
Cornwall is famous for its beautiful coastal scenery, beaches, and the rock formations of the Land’s End district; consequently the majority of alfresco early Cornish photographs produced by these entrepreneurial photographic artists tended to be of cliffs and rocks.
McCarthy has included mainly views of Victorian Cornwall rather than portraits of people, although he makes a few exceptions.
“I have concentrated where possible on the earlier images as I believe that they need recording; these early images are precious and are treasures to be looked after and preserved for future generations,” he adds.
“In this throwaway society, so much of our history is being destroyed without a thought for the future, so every effort must be made to preserve what survives.
“I hope that this small selection of images brings you some enjoyment and a little education, but please spare a thought for the hard times that our Cornish ancestors had to endure in their day to day lives just to survive and raise our forefathers; without them, we would not be here.
Victorian Cornwall: A Look at Cornwall Through the Eyes of our Forefathers, by Malcolm McCarthy and published by Fonthill Media is available now.