Newquay, on Cornwall’s North Atlantic Coast, is a popular seaside town, with some of Cornwall’s best sandy beaches. It is a major tourist destination of approximately 20,000 residents, but in the peak of the summer, this can increase to 100,000. It is a lively town with a thriving nightlife of traditional pubs, nightclubs and beachside cafes. Many venues offer live music. Obviously, the entertainment facilities attract young people to the town and it is a popular destination for celebrating, following examination results and for stag and hen nights.
Newquay can rightly be regarded as the leading surf centre in the United Kingdom. Fistral Beach is probably Britain’s best known surfing beach, but there are eight other long and accessible sandy beaches in Newquay. The good surfing facilities have made Newquay the centre of the surf industry in Britain, with many surf stores, board manufacturers and hire shops based here. The brand, “Fat Willy’s” was founded here.
Fistral Beach has been hosting international surfing competitions for over twenty years, including the Rip Curl Boardmasters Tournament, which is now known as the Relentless Boardmasters Festival. A music festival takes place at Watergate Bay. Towan Beach, Great Western Beach and Tolcarne Beach, also provide excellent surfing facilities and are close to the town. Tolcarne Beach is a sheltered bay, with soft golden sand and ideal waves for boogie boarders and surfing beginners. It is home to the award-winning Venus Café, which provides all day meals and has an “all-weather” deck.
Newquay has good communications, accessible by road, rail and unusually has its own international airport, handling both scheduled and chartered flights. Lufthansa, Bmibaby, Flybe and Skybus, all have scheduled services to Newquay (NQY) and now Newquay Cornwall Airport offers more than twenty routes. As for so many towns, the railway brought tourism and expansion. The railway was originally built as a mineral line in the 1840s to link with the harbour, but it could not cope with the volume of china clay and tin it needed to carry. On 20th June, 1876, a passenger service was opened and the town quickly developed as a holiday resort. Several major hotels were built at the end of the 19th century, including the Victoria, the Atlantic and the Headland. In the 1930s, growth spread eastwards towards the railway station. The houses along Narrowcliff were converted into hotels. In July and August, Newquay has daily intercity services to Paddington Station in London.
Newquay has few really old buildings. There is no mention of a settlement here in the Domesday Book.
The first signs of any settlement in the Newquay area are on Porth Island, Trevelgue Head. A small fishing village grew up, sheltered by the headland around what is now the location of the Harbour. It is not known when this was first established, but by 1439, the inhabitants applied to the Bishop of Exeter, to build a “New Quay”, hence its current name. Until then the village was called, “Towan Blystra”, in Cornish meaning, “blown sand dune”. The current harbour was constructed in 1832. Until the early 20th century, the port was famous for pilchards and the town’s insignia is two pilchards. In 1856, the pilchard industry was on a considerable scale. Above the harbour is a “Huer’s Hut”, from which a look-out would shout to warn the fishing fleet in the village that he had seen shoals of pilchards approaching. Stocks of pilchards are now limited, so only a small number of boats catch crabs and lobsters.