HOTEL | the scene of the Newquay riots over 100 years ago|
its world famous beaches and ideal surfing conditions, Newquay in Cornwall is
a mecca for tourists, but it hasn’t always been this way.
journeys back over 130 years to discover how Newquay transformed itself into a
holiday hotspot despite the opposition that stood in its way.
In the 1870s,
Newquay was a rough and ready village, reliant on farming and fishing.
age of the railway opened up coastal towns of the South West to holidaying middle
classes, with time and money to take in the sea air.
Trevail was a man with a plan|
One man had a vision to make
Cornwall the rival of the south coast resorts.
The plan began at Newquay
and the man was Silvanus Trevail.
In 1890, Trevail,
once Mayor of Truro, formed the Cornish Hotels Company.
His aim was to
create a chain of first class hotels, whose guests could move between them at
As with so many grand schemes, lack of money hampered Trevail’s
plans and he was forced to settle with just one hotel, the Atlantic.
was an ambitious man however, and set his sights on the headlands of Newquay.
His vision was to turn them into an upmarket estate, the pinnacle being
a luxury hotel called the Headland.
The scheme was not without enemies
and the discontent of Newquay locals finally erupted into the now infamous Newquay
was an architect, developer and a pioneer of tourism in Cornwall|
proposed site of the hotel had previously been used as land on which farmers grazed
livestock and local fishermen dried their nets.
It is little wonder that
their hackles rose at Trevail’s proposals threatened to ruin their livelihoods.
"Don’t forget the time we are talking about, all the wealth of Newquay came through
the quay behind me," explains Peter Hicks.
Despite local opposition, work
on the Headland Hotel began in August 1897.
Outraged farmers and fishermen
rushed to the site, where they tore down the wooden works office.
tools and planks of wood were hurled off the cliff.
planks and workman's tools were thrown off the headland|
Trevail returned to the site the following day, the mob were waiting.
including eggs and apples were hurled at him, before he was pinned to the railing
and subjected as the press reported, to a "very fierce outpouring of contempt
and insolent abuse."
Although hundreds took part in the demonstration,
only 22 men were charged. The men were fined £2 each, a large sum in those days,
for committing malicious damage to goods.
Construction continued, although
unemployed miners from Redruth had to be employed as local workers were reluctant
Today the Headland is as grand a hotel as Trevail could have
wished, although it got off to a shaky start.
was a man ahead of his time, a campaigner for sanitation improvements and an entrepreneur.
His success however, did not bring him happiness. Trevail suffered from
depression and had been unwell for some time.
In November 1903 he shot
himself in the lavatory of a train.
This strange and tragic end will always
haunt the memory of Silvanus Trevail - a man who admirers say, should be remembered
as a pioneer.
"We can think of him as an inspiration, a man who in a time
of great misery was active in doing good for Cornwall," says Dr Perry.
"He was a driven man and he drove himself to self-destruction."