Sunny Corner History

 “We went up to Truro, which is beautiful, something like the Tamar, but almost  finer, though not so bold as Pentillie Castle and Cotehele, winding between banks entirely wooded with stunted oak and full of numberless creeks”. She goes on  to say “then we turned back(from Tregony river) and went up the Truro(river) to  Malpas. Another bend in the river from whence we can see Truro. We stopped  here for a while as so many boats came out from a little place called Sunny Corner. Indeed, the whole population poured out on foot and in carts etc along the banks and cheered and were enchanted when Bertie was held up for them to see. It was a very pretty, gratifying sight”.  

Indeed, a water colour, commemorating the visit was bequeathed to the Institute of  Cornwall by Mr Edward Heard (see above). 

The 1850s saw Charles Dyer build boats at Sunny Corner. He built many before he retired in 1894. He was one of the numerous boat builders that owned yards on the river banks. We know the importance of Sunny Corner from historical records in that tin and copper was loaded onto boats there. In its time, it was a very prosperous, but small loading point. Here is a piece written for Truro Port: 

“Water transport was much more important before modern roads and railways, particularly for heavy industries such as tin mining. Both visiting and locally built trading vessels used the port. Wooden sailing ships were once built on Back Quay and there were other ship-builders at Newham, Sunny Corner and Malpas. The 82 ton schooner ‘Lizzie’ was built at Malpas in 1881. The ship operated a regular service to London before being wrecked in 1905. As trade shifted to more reliable steamers, local traders ran the Truro shipping company between 1814 and 1876. From this grew the Truro based Chellew steam navigation company that traded around the world until after the Second World War. Tin trading through the port made Truro important, but from almost the earliest days, mining also caused Truro’s rivers to silt and there have been many attempts to clear the choking mud”.  

The City of Truro Boundary lies here too, from beyond Park Farm Lane, back towards Truro and that was often celebrated by the “Beating of the Bounds, a task undertaken by the Mayor of Truro.

Sunny Corner shelter was built in 1910, primarily for use by Truro Swimming Club. The lattice feature at the end of the building is, we believe, all that remains of the original building. If you look closely above the shelter, you will see the slope leading down to the rear of the shelter and is where the original entrance was. 

 In the 1950s, another hut was built to accommodate the swimming club, this time closer to the roadside, in the area currently accommodating the picnic benches. That was later removed from the site. During the 50s, few boats were moored here and it allowed Truronians to use the area for swimming . In the front of the shelter, at low tide, you can still make out the tiled area that was laid to make bathing more comfortable. 

Sunny Corner was often used as part of the Truro Regatta festival. Sadly, it no longer occurs, suffice to say that there are moves afoot to re-introduce it. 

The 1980s saw the Manpower Services Commission rebuild the entry/access path and construct the concrete steps up to the main Malpas Road. For many years little happened. The shelter fell into a state of disrepair and was neglected. However in February 2016, a volunteer group took over the rebuilding and maintenance of Sunny Corner. The preferred choice of those who owned it was to knock it down and leave it as a barren area. Thankfully, the volunteer group thought differently and took the task of rebuilding and renovating the entire area. 

The site is actually the responsibility of four different organisations, five if you include the volunteers that look after it.  The Truro Harbour Master owns and is responsible for the river frontage, and the area immediately alongside it, including the shelter itself. Cornwall Council own both sets of steps and the land above the paths as far as Malpas Road. The ground from the entrance notice board towards the shelter lies in the St Clement Parish Council District, whilst the land from the Park Farm Lane back towards Truro lies in the Truro City Council District. 

Sunny Corner lies in the middle of a Site of Special Scientific Interest, (SSSI). The bird life is abundant as can be seen from the bird identifier panel close to the steps in front of the shelter. It attracts numerous “twitchers” for that reason. It has always had a tranquillity about it and that is what attracts our visitors today. 

The site is now maintained by a voluntary committee and a willing band of helpers. They have to raise all of the funds to keep the site well equipped and maintained. Various activities are held each year to raise the funds needed to keep the site looking attractive and useable. Since the rebuilding in 2016, the use of the site has increased enormously.   

The Sunny Corner Volunteers have received lots of recognition for their efforts. In 2021, they were the only organisation in Cornwall to receive the Queens Award for Voluntary Service, the equivalent of the receiving the MBE for volunteers.  A formal presentation by the Lord Lieutenant took place and that was followed by a visit to Buckingham Palace by two volunteers to attend a Royal Garden Party. 

The site has also received recognition and accolade from the Royal Horticultural Society, gaining “Outstanding”  awards for their efforts every year. 

Currently, thousands of people use Sunny Corner to rest, relax and enjoy the pleasures that it readily provides. Had it not been for the band of volunteers back in 2016, the site would no longer be available for the public to use.  

If you would like to stay in touch with what is happening at Sunny Corner, there is a Facebook Page called the “Sunny Corner Conservation Group” – why not join us and see what we get up to on a regular basis ?

Paul Caruana

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