Last week I wrote a post titled “Penzance down in the dumps” and followed that up with another called “End of the line?”. Both posts may have given readers that there was only negative things to say about Penzance and also that I didn’t like it here. To rectify both of those negative posts I thought I would write something which would be an attempt to put across the other side of the coin and redress the negative imbalance.
There are loads of positive things to be said for Penzance and I am hoping that after reading this post readers will leave comments emphasising the positives.
Anyway here goes . . . . . . .
Located in one of the world’s most beautiful bays, Mounts Bay, Penzance enjoys its reputation for excellent restaurants and cafes and is reputed to have more restaurants and eating houses per capita then New York! It also has an enviable reputation as one of the friendliest towns in Cornwall with a warm welcome to visitors from all over the globe. As the business centre of West Cornwall and the focus of commercial activity for the whole Lands End Peninsula, you would be right to expect a bustling, thriving town. Yet Penzance still manages to be true to its heritage and always maintains its olde worlde atmosphere, the town successfully retaining its charm while simultaneously keeping pace with the specific demands of the 21st century.
Now a little bit of history. The town of Penzance can be traced back to the thirteenth century. Originally called Pen Sans, meaning ‘holy headland’ in the native Cornish language. By the 18th century, Penzance Harbour had become a bustling port and a centre of local commerce, mainly related to the tin mining industry. Penzance Railway Station opened in March 1852, linking the town with Bristol, London and the north of England. By the 19th century, the mining industry in Penzance was at its peak. Its most famous resident, Sir Humphry Davy, invented the miners safety lamp here in 1801. It was to revolutionise working conditions for those toiling away in Britain’s mines. The town also boasted its own mining school, founded in 1890.
I moved to Cornwall from West London in 1996, that’s 17 years ago (so not considered a local yet!) and I still haven’t got bored of seeing the beautiful Cornish Coast every single day. Every time I am away from the town and come over a hill on the way home and I catch a glimpse of the town and the sea I am uplifted. It still happens every single time.
Apart from the sea, which never looks the same twice, I love the people of Penzance. I have always found them to be friendly and welcoming. I have never felt afraid to walk the streets at night for fear of being attacked or mugged unlike London where there were lots of areas where even I as a streetwise local would not venture after dark. Of course in any town you are going to get bad people but I have been working directly with people for a very long time here and I can say with certainty that there are very few.
Lots of people who live locally complain about Penzance and Cornwall in general. This seems mainly to be the people, particularly youngsters, who have never really been anywhere else. They say that there are two bad council estates locally. One at Treneere and the other at Gwavas. Those are NOT bad estates. The people that live there are very much normal families bringing up children and making a living. The estates are safe to walk around at night time and are generally clean and tidy. I would certainly rather live on either of those two estates than Chalk Farm or somewhere similar in London.
Before people start to criticise the lovely and safe town of Penzance they should perhaps see a bit more of the world.
Of course Penzance has its problems made worse by the current economic situation. Penzance people have to deal with low wages and high rents which make living comfortably difficult but at least we have the beautiful sea, and surrounds. The countryside is on our doorstep.
Quite a few shops have closed in the town over the last couple of years but that is not a reflection on Penzance people it is a sad sign of the difficult times we live in. There are still plenty of shops here and as well as the national chains there are loads of independent and interesting businesses still trading in Market Jew Street, Chapel Street and Causewayhead. Even though a few pubs have closed down recently there is still a wide range of different types of pub available dependent on what you are looking for.