Helston Museum

Helston Museum

Market Place, Helston, TR13 8TH
Tel: (01326) 564027
Email: info@museumofcornishlife.co.uk
Web: www.museumofcornishlife.co.uk


History of a town

The museum is housed in the former Market House in Charter Street. The Market House was built in 1837 and was comprised of two buildings, one selling butter and eggs and the other meat. The Museum was formally opened in 1949 in the Butter and Egg Market, and it has now grown to such an extent that it expanded into the meat market in the early 1980's, then into the adjoining Drill Hall in 1999. A suspended gallery, the Loft, was also added at this time that in turn allowed the creation of the mezzanine art gallery whish is used for regular art exhibitions and workshops, and the museum shop that provides a fine range of silver and local jewellery, cards, local books and minerals. The museum contains five display halls on three floors - much bigger than it looks from the outside!

A notable feature in front of the building is a cannon salvaged from the wreck of the frigate HMS 'Anson' which foundered off Loe Bar in 1807. Around 100 sailors’ lives were lost in the disaster which led to the pioneering work of Henry Trengrouse, featured in the Museum’s Drill Hall.

The Collection

The Museum's emphasis is on the former crafts and industries which flourished in and around Helston during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

ARCHAEOLOGY AND MINERALS - Various specimens including Bronze Age, found on The Lizard.

OLD HELSTON - Many photographs and engravings, etc., showing the growth of the town, and many buildings since demolished.

CIVIC - Exhibits dealing with the Borough of Helston, including the Imperial Weights and Measures.

MINING, QUARRYING & FISHING - Tools of the trades, and other fine examples including local bank-notes and rare old photographs.

LAW AND ORDER - Interesting items to be found include thumb-screws, and anti-poaching trip gun. Military uniforms, badges etc., and two fine early fire-engines.

CRAFTS AND TRADES - Included are Saddlery and Wheelwright workshops, a recent reconstruction of a blacksmith's forge incorporating a fine example of a circular bellows, cooper's tools, etc.
Amongst the vehicles are a horse-drawn butcher's cart, a fine example of a wagonette used by a member of the local gentry, and a parish bier. A Toy Shop contains a wide variety of items.
An exhibition area - which will be occupied from time to time with examples of both live and static craft - is also included.
Also a predominant feature is an early printing-press, used in Helston during the 19th century.

AGRICULTURE - A large display of farming tools and machinery, with superb illustrations showing how they were used. There is a fine example of a farm wagon, made locally, and an early 19th century barn threshing machine.

CIDER PRESS AND CIDER MILL - Both are around 250 years old, each being a fine example of craftsmanship.

DOMESTIC - We are famous for our kitchen, a fine reconstruction of life long ago, and there are many examples of equipment pertaining to our cottage industries, including butter-making.
There is also a first manual washing machine, still in remarkable condition

LEISURE - Here is nostalgia in the form of childhood toys and games, books etc. There is also an early gramophone, a magic lantern and posters.

VICTORIANA - Elegance of bygone days! Clothes and accessories, shoes and slippers.

LACE AND CROCHETWORK - Many fine examples of lace, including hand-made christening gowns.

TRANSPORT - Licences and photographs of Helston's first motor-car, also a section on the inauguration of the Helston Railway, early horse-drawn transport, plus photographs of local wrecks and maritime ephemera.

Helston Museum

LOCAL PERSONALITIES - Helston's most famous sons, namely Henry Trengrouse and Bob Fitzsimmons, photographs and exhibits.

CURIOS - A death's head hawk moth, medals coins, models, a fine display of Victorian birthday and Christmas cards, all these and more to be found in this display.

FURRY DAY - A section relating to Helston's world-famous day shows various photographs from the turn of the century of the dances and of the Hal-an-Tow. A clock depicting the dancers and playing the familiar tune can be heard by inserting a 5p coin.

There are on sale a number of items, including picture postcards of the Cornish Kitchen, Bob Fitzsimmons, and an exterior view of the museum - also a variety of posters and books, mainly of old Helston and the surrounding area. It is also possible to purchase a reproduction seal of the Borough of Helston and a printed 'Souvenir of Your Visit' to the Museum.

Previously run by Cornwall Council, management of Helston Museum was taken over by the South Kerrier Heritage Trust in August 2013.

In 2018 the museum was renamed 'Museum of Cornish Life, Helston' to reflect what is in the museum’s fabulous collection.


A short walk down Church Street from the centre of town.

Opening Times

All Year
Monday - Saturday
10.00am - 4.00pm

Full Disabled Access

Admission Free

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