Focus on Truro

By admin | May 12, 2007
Under: Locations

Truro (pronounced /ˈtruːrəʊ/; Cornish: Truru) is a city in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It is the administrative centre and only city in the county, and the most southerly city in Great Britain.

Truro’s name is derived from the Cornish tri-veru meaning “three rivers”. The city grew to be an important centre of trade thanks firstly to its port, but later because of its role as a stannary town for the mining industry. Today, Truro is the centre for administration, leisure and retail in Cornwall and has a population of 20,920.[1] Its residents are known as Truronians.

The city is well-known for its cathedral (completed in 1910), as well as its cobbled streets, open spaces and many examples of Georgian architecture. It is also the location of the Royal Cornwall Museum, the Hall for Cornwall, Cornwall’s Courts of Justice and Cornwall County Council’s Old County Hall, a Grade II listed building.

  The earliest records and archaeological findings of a permanent settlement in the Truro area originate from Norman times. A castle was built in the 12th century by Richard de Luci, Chief Justice of England in the reign of Henry II, who was granted land in Cornwall for his services to the court, including the area surrounding the confluence of the two rivers. He planted the town in the shadow of the castle and awarded it borough status to further economic activity. (The castle has long since disappeared).By the start of the 14th century Truro was an important port, thanks to its inland location away from invaders and its prosperity from the fishing industry, but also as its new role as one of Cornwall’s stannary towns for the official assaying and stamping of locally-produced tin and copper in Cornish mines. However, the Black Death soon arrived and with it a trade recession which resulted in a mass exodus of the population and, as such the town was left in a very neglected state.

Trade returned to Truro with help from the government and the town was very prosperous during the Tudor period. Self-governance was awarded in 1589 by the granting of a new charter by Elizabeth I, which gave Truro an elected mayor and control over the port of Falmouth.

During the Civil War in the 17th century, Truro raised a sizable force to fight for the King and a royalist mint was set up in the town. However, defeat to the Parliamentary troops came in 1646 and it was moved to Exeter. Further disheartenment came later in the century when Falmouth was awarded its own charter giving it rights to its harbour, starting a long rivalry between the two towns. The dispute was eventually settled in 1709 with control of the River Fal being divided between Truro and Falmouth.

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Truro prospered greatly during the 18th and 19th centuries. Industry flourished thanks to improved mining methods and higher prices for tin, and the town soon became the place to be for wealthy mine owners. Elegant Georgian and Victorian townhouses were built—such as those seen today on Lemon Street, named after the mining magnate and local MP Sir William Lemon—and Truro became the centre for high society in the county, being mentioned as “the London of Cornwall”.[2]

Throughout these prosporous times Truro remained a social centre and many notable people hailed from it. One of the most noteworthy residents was Richard Lander, an explorer who discovered the source of the River Niger in Africa and was awarded the first gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society. Others include Humphry Davy, educated in Truro and inventor of the miner’s safety lamp, and Samuel Foote, an actor and playwright from Boscawen Street.

Truro’s importance increased later in the 19th century and it had its own iron smelting works, potteries and tanneries. The Great Western Railway arrived in Truro in the 1860s with a direct line from London Paddington, and the Bishopric of Truro bill was passed in 1876 which gave the town a bishop, then a cathedral. The next year Queen Victoria granted Truro city status.

The start of the 20th century saw the decline of the mining industry, however the city remained prosperous as its previous role as a market town shifted to being the administrative and commercial centre of Cornwall, and saw substantial development. Today, Truro continues its role as the retail centre of Cornwall but, like many other cities, faces concerns over the disappearance of many of its renowned specialty shops for national chain stores, the eroding of its identity, and also over how to accommodate future expected growth in the 21st century.

Check out Truro drive through!

Courtesy of youtube

Courtesy of youtube

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