PZ 87 Rosebud left Newlyn on October 19, 1937 to deliver a petition to parliament to stop the Newlyn clearances. Over 1,000 people signed a petition against ‘the wholesale destruction of our famous village’.
The true story of the Rosebud appeared in the Newlyn Harbour Sports Programme, 1938 and was most likely written by Geoffrey Garnier, the artist.
PZ87 Rosebud in Westminster with County Hall on the other side of the Thames. An experimental colour photograph by Charles Hoyland (Margaret Perry Collection)
It is incredible that a public inquiry was told that 303 houses in Newlyn were unsanitary or unfit for human habituation, and the only way to deal with them was to demolish homes and start afresh. This happened after Parliament passed an Act empowering all Councils to deal with slum districts in the areas that they controlled. Newlyn had only recently come under the jurisdiction of Penzance, and Penzance decided that it should be flattened and rebuilt.
A committee was formed from Newlyn and Mousehole people. Geoffrey Garnier the artist took a lead and Maureen, Marquise des Verdieres (TC Gotch’s daughter) took charge of publicity. She was so successful that the National Press, took up the cause of Newlyn and there are many newspaper cuttings from this period.
It was probably Garnier who hit upon the idea of sending the petition to Westminster in a local fishing boat. Cecil Richards and his brother, staunch Methodists like many of the folk in Newlyn, agreed to make the voyage in their fishing boat, the 50-ft PZ 87 Rosebud, a traditional lugger but one of the first to be built with engines installed. There were no funds for this journey so when they selected a crew, each of the men agreed to provide a small sum sufficient to cover the cost of their keep during the voyage. In the event, their good deed was rewarded, people came forward to contribute to victualling the ship, and four kindly people guaranteed £5 apiece to cover expenses. Thus, the Rosebud sailed with a volunteer crew, partially victualled, and with £20 to cover all eventualities!
When she left Newlyn Harbour upon that dismal morning in October, she carried three remarkable objects: a bottle of water from the Jordan, another of water from Madron Wishing Well and a red slipper. They were a form of Publicity to which the Marquise attached great importance.
Douglas Williams (nephew of Cecil Richards) recalls as a six-year-old boy, the emotional early-morning scenes at the pier as the boat set off. They sang ‘Fight the Good Fight’ when they left.
Calling at Plymouth and Dover, the Rosebud made an uneventful passage to London River. Their progress up the River to Westminster was reported in all the newspapers. They were received by Mr Beechman, MP and they had tea in the House of Commons with Sir Kingsley Wood, the Minister of Health.
Did the Journey of the Rosebud halt the Newlyn Clearances? Probably it delayed them but it was WW2 that brought them to a halt.
This article is sourced from materials held by the Newlyn Archive