The counties capital
Truro City Council
Situated halfway along the length of Cornwall on the main A39 road and mid-way between the country's north and south coasts, the city of Truro stands in a strategic position and one that has led to its development as Cornwall's centre of administration and its more recent growth as a touring and holiday centre. Its good road and rail links put it within easy reach of almost every part of Cornwall. The population of the city was 19,134 at the 2011 census.
The city's natural position close to the confluence of the Truro and Fal rivers led to its early importance as both a port and a tin mining centre. As a port it was for centuries the rival of Falmouth for seaborne trade and it was, too, one of Cornwall's "stannary" towns where tin had to be brought for testing and stamping. Eventually the shipping trade was lost to Falmouth but tin and copper mining remained important until the 18th century, a period that saw Truro become Cornwall's centre of high society and home of numerous famous and wealthy people.
The earliest references to Truro come, not from either the Roman or Saxon periods. but from Norman times. They constructed a castle here and it is from this, possibly, that the city's name comes - "Tre/ru" or the castle on the water, (although another theory is that the name is derived from the "three streets" - Tru-ru). The castle, long since vanished, belonged to the Earls of Cornwall.
In 1877, the ancient Cornish See was at last re-established with Truro as its centre. That year saw Truro become a Charter city and then three years later work began on building the cathedral, a task that lasted for thirty years.
Although not large by county town standards Truro has all the bearing of a county capital' with city, county and district council offices, and the new Crown Courts which opened in November 1988. The cathedral dominates the city centre in a quite remarkable way but does not detract from the charm of some of the streets. One of the most interesting of the buildings is the Royal Cornwall Museum which houses a splendid collection, telling the story of both Truro and Cornwall.
Changes have tended to re-shape parts of central Truro in recent years and the city now has a range of newer industries, modern schools and one of the best shopping centres in the West. There are two busy covered markets to augment the shops and on Lemon Quay is the Creation Centre, an arcade of specialist shops beneath the same roof as the Pannier Market. On the outskirts of Truro in Newquay road is one of the most modern livestock markets that serve the whole of Cornwall.
Skinner's Brewery was founded in Truro by Steve and Sarah Skinner in 1997 and in a short space of time has become an integral part of Cornish life. You will find Skinner's ales served in many Cornish pubs.
With plenty of amenities for the full enjoyment of leisure and with, all around it, beautiful and historic Cornish countryside, Truro has a great deal to offer all who come to see it - be they tourists, intending residents or future industrialists. A warm welcome awaits them all.
When visiting Truro there is a park and ride service conveniently located at Langarth Park on the A390 at Threemilestone, which runs every ten minutes.
Christmas in Truro is a truly unique and enjoyable experience. This vibrant city really comes alive during the festive season with a wonderful mix of events and Christmas markets.
Lying in a bowl at the confluence of two rivers, the Kenywn, which runs under the car park in the city's centre and the Allen, which is spanned by three bridges east of the Cathedral. By the middle of the 12th century a town was growing up in the shadow of the castle walls and in 1300 it was important enough to have its own Merchants Guild and to be one of Cornwall's centres for the official testing and stamping of locally mined tin. These were the "stannary" towns Truro, Lostwithiel, Liskeard, Helston and, much later, Penzance. All tin had to come to these towns to be tested, taxed and sold and this custom continued right through until the 18th century.
Truro was not only a 'stannary' town, however; it was an important river port with the advantage of being well away from the sea and thus well away from marauding invaders. Much tin and copper was shipped from its quays although it did suffer from periodic trade recession - one followed the Black Death in 1350 which caused a huge exodus of local people and reduced Truro to a very neglected state.
With some government help trade returned to Truro and the city was prosperous throughout the Tudor period. Truro gained a grammar school in 1549, a sign of its prosperity. In 1589 a fresh charter was granted by Elizabeth I and this gave Truro a measure of self-government with a mayor, six aldermen and eighteen burgesses. This charter also gave the mayor the right to control the harbour of Falmouth. Truro also had the right to send two members to Parliament, a right that was also held by five other towns within an eight mile radius.
Truro was greatly involved in the Civil War and in 1642 raised a sizeable force to fight for the King. The Royal set up their mint in Truro although was later moved to Exeter. In 1646 the city fell to Fairfax and Charles had to escape by way of Falmouth. This same century saw the rivalry between Truro and Falmouth reach a peak. Truro saw its tin and copper trade go to its neighbour and to other coastal ports. Falmouth received its charter in 1661 and it took control of the harbour and river although this was disputed until 1709 by Truro who tried to re-establish its own harbour rights. The Courts finally settled the matter with the Fal being divided between the two places.
Boscawen Street, the principal street in the town and still fortunately cobbled, shows the first signs of Truro's prosperity and is named after the Boscawen family of Lord Falmouth which had the borough in its pocket until the end of the 18th century.
The old parish church of Truro was St. Mary's, incorporated into the cathedral in the later 19th century.
Cornwall County Library was founded in Pydar Street during 1792 and was funded by subscription initially but became a free library in 1886.
On 12th August 1799, the Royal Cornwall Infirmary opened in Truro paid for by George IV. It was the first of its kind in Cornwall and was designed to service the mining community. Initially holding twenty beds, the infirmary was expanded to include 180 beds in 1939. After the formation of the NHS, a new hospital was built at Treliske, including 180 beds and six wards, and was opened by Princess Alexandra on 12th July 1968.
Travelling through the area in 1662, the naturalist John Ray described Truro as a pretty town' but this view was not shared by Miss Celia Finnes who travelled this way in 1695. In her book "Through England on a side-saddle" she referred to Truro as being 'ruinated and disregarded'.
However, the affairs of Truro took another turn for the better in the 18th and 19th centuries. Improved mining methods and higher prices for tin brought increased prosperity and Truro became the natural centre for those who made their fortune on the mines profits. In the late 18th century and early 19th century it began to grow rapidly. New streets were built. Bridge Street is named after a new bridge, erected in 1775. Lemon Street is named after a merchant, William Lemon, who built houses in the street at the start of the 19th century. Also in the early 19th century Edward Street, Castle Street and Francis Street were built. In 1787 Assembly Rooms were built for card games and balls. A theatre was also built. Truro was also a popular shopping centre for the local gentry. In 1790 an Act of Parliament formed a body of men called Improvement Commissioners with powers to clean and light the streets of Truro. Elegant houses were built for the mine owners' families and the Assembly Rooms echoed to the music and colour of balls and other functions.
Another traveller, this time Robert Southey, came here in 1802 and found Truro to be 'clean and opulent' with superb shops in its main street.
Through the 19th century Truro increased in importance and by the 1830's it had a population of 3,000. It had works to smelt the local tin; it had an iron foundry, potteries, tanneries and both wool and carpet mills.
Stannary Law which continued until 1838 is supposed to be enforced in the Truro County Court, but attempts to register tin bounds in recent years have been largely frustrated.
There were a number of improvements in Truro in the 19th century. Truro gained gas street lighting in 1822. The Municipal Buildings were erected in 1867. Truro gained a volunteer fire brigade in 1868. In the late 19th century Truro gained a piped water supply.
However like all Victorian towns Truro was overcrowded and insanitary. There were outbreaks of cholera in 1849 and 1853.
The Great Western railway built their line through Truro, although in the early days trains through Cornwall called at all stations and were slow in the extreme. Through carriages to London's Paddington station came in 1867 but the journey was still very slow - in the order of twelve hours! And there were no such things as dining cars!
Kind words were said of Truro by the noted diarist curate, Francis Kilvert, when he came here in 1870. He later sailed from Truro quay and described his journey down river between "steaming mud banks and sand flats". Six years later Truro became the centre of the new diocese and the following year, 1877, saw it raised to the status of a city (although the building of the cathedral did not start until 1880).
The early years of the present century saw the virtual end of tin mining and the closure of several other local industries. The city, however, continued to grow as an administrative and commercial centre and gained something of a reputation as an educational centre. In more recent times it has gained popularity as a touring centre.
By 1901 Truro had a population a little over 11,500. The population grew slowly in the first part of the 19th century. By 1951 it was still less than 13,000.
The Plaza cinema was built on Lemon Street in 1936. The distinctive art deco design was down to cinema architect William Henry Watkins.
Truro War Memorial was unveiled in 1922. Truro gained an electricity supply in 1927 and the Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Portal and St. Piran was built in 1972.
Since 1974 Truro has been a part of the larger Carrick District but the Truro City Council, which controls mainly local matters, carries on the traditions of "local rule" which have existed since Norman times.
The granite City Hall on Boscawen Street was built in 1846 in the Italian Renaissance style; following extensive interior remodelling it has become The Hall for Cornwall, which is now the premier entertainment centre for the county, hosting touring groups from opera, ballet and other companies. It is within a complex of cafes and shops in a recently renovated area of town.
On the 14th July 1967 people watched in horror as a runaway lorry went out of control at the top of the steep Lemon Street careering past the Georgian houses and offices, heading directly towards the city centre and crashed into the Red Lion hotel leaving it irreparable and the magnificent building had to be demolished.
The Royal Cornwall Museum in River Street has a fine geological collection and many other interesting exhibits, including a real Egyptian mummy! In addition to the permanent collections there are frequent other interesting temporary exhibitions.
There is a ferry service on the Fal River between Truro, Falmouth and St. Mawes.
Truro still has a railway station on the main line through Cornwall, and a branch line down to Falmouth.
The town's Tourist Information Centre is at Municipal Buildings, Boscawen Street, TR1 2NE.
The local leisure centre is in College Road, TR1 3GA.
Truro City Walk, Start in Truro and walk down Lemon Quay, under the subway towards Tesco. Take the path by the riverside along Newham Road before turning right up Gas Hill. Here you’ll pick up a cycle and footpath on your left. You’re now on the old Newham Railway Line. Follow the path all the way until it ends. It will bring you out opposite Station Road. Take care crossing the road and follow down the hill past Truro Train Station and back into town. A total of four miles.
Alison Adburgham (1912–1997) Social historian and fashion journalist, died in the town.
Admiral Edward Boscawen (1711-1761) Was born here, and he became an admiral of the Royal Navy. A cobbled street at the centre of Truro and a park are named in his honour.
Matthew Etherington (1981-) Born in Truro, a former professional footballer who used to play for West Ham and Stoke City in the Premier League.
Samuel Foote (1720-1777) The actor, was born at a house in Boscawen Street.
Henry Louis Gibson (1906–1992) An expert in medical uses of infra-red and pioneer of its use in detecting breast cancer.
Robert William Goddard (1954-) Novelist.
Sir William Gerald Golding CBE (1911–1993) Novelist, playwright, and poet was born in St. Columb Minor in 1911, and returned to live near Truro from 1985 until his death.
Chris Harris (1982-) Was born in Truro, and he went on to become British Speedway Champion.
Joseph Hunkin (1887–1950) Bishop of Truro from 1935 to 1950.
Maria Kuncewiczowa (1895-1989) A Polish writer who lived in Truro after WWII. Her novel, Tristan 1946, is based in the city.
Richard Lemon Lander (1804-1834) and his brother John Lander FGRS (1807-1839), were born at the 'Fighting Cocks Inn', later called the Dolphin Inn. Together they went on several expeditions exploring the River Niger eventually discovering its source. A statue of Richard Lander stands on a tall column at the top of Lemon Street in Truro.
James Marsh (1963-) Film director and winner of an Academy Award.
Henry Martyn (1781-1812) Became a missionary in India and translated the New Testament into both Hindustani and Persian.
Nick Nieland (1972-) A Commonwealth Games javelin gold medallist.
Margaret Steuart Pollard (née Gladstone) (1904–1996) A poet and translator who lived in Truro until her death.
The Reverend Richard Polwhele Who wrote the "History of Cornwall" was born here.
Benjamin Dieter Salfield (1971-) International concert performer, composer and promoter, lives on the edge of the city.
Roger Meddows Taylor (1948-) Drummer from the rock band Queen.
Joanna Clare Thomas (1976-) Professional female body-builder.
Thomas Michael Dunstan Voyce (1981-) A former London Wasps and England rugby union footballer.
Sir Hugh Seymour Walpole, CBE (1884–1941) Novelist.
Barbara Joyce West (1911–2007) Second-to-last survivor of the RMS Titanic.
Dr John Wolcot (1738–1819) A noted literary figure lived here for some years.
Elizabeth Andrew Warren (1786–1864) Was a Cornish botanist and marine algologist who spent most of her career collecting along the southern coast of Cornwall.
Cornwall Music Festival - Mid March
Truro Festival - Early April
Cornwall Gin and Prosecco Festival - Mid June
Great Cornish Food Festival - End September
The City of Lights Festival - Mid November
Truro Primestock Show - Early December
Truro Winter Gift Fayre - Mid December
The Lemon Tree Cafe
The Secret Garden Cafe
Cathedral Coffee Shop and Restaurant
The Terrace Coffee House
Charlotte's Tea House
The Britannia Inn
The City Inn
The Market Inn
Old Ale House
The White Hart
The Rising Sun
The Wig and Pen
The William IV
The Barley Sheaf
The Railway Tavern
Royal Cornwall Museum The Royal Institution of Cornwall Cornwall County Record Office Hall for Cornwall
Bosvigo House Chyverton Park Roseland House & Garden Trewithen Gardens Tregoose Garden Skinner's Brewery
Truro Cathedral Falmouth Grampound Penryn Redruth St. Austell St. Day The Roseland Peninsula
Llama Lland Callestick Farm Healeys Cornish Cyder Farm Lynher Dairies Probus Tregothnan