There is so much in this short book that it's difficult to know where to begin with a description. The 128 pages contain 17 essays, all copiously illustrated mostly, but exclusively, with photographs. Eight full colour reproductions of Newlyn as depicted by the Newlyn artists are also included.
The 1891 census is analysed to present a snapshot of Newlyn in the middle of the period. The population of 3600 was fairly evenly split between males and females and mostly aged between 15 and 70. The employment of women is looked at in some detail but it comes as no surprise to learn that most families depended upon fishing for their survival. The fishing industry is the subject of the longest essay which describes the great changes which impacted the industry and people of Newlyn as steam trawlers appeared on the scene and as more 'foreign' vessels began to use the newly enlarged harbour. The stress of this competition led to serious rioting which saw the military, both army and navy, deployed to the area but not until the advent of World War One did Newlyn society and the way of life really change.
Improvements to the harbour in the 1880s were partly funded from the proceeds of The West Cornwall Fisheries Exhibition, held in August 1884, and extracts from the catalogue of the exhibition are presented here. The subsequent work to develop the harbour is described in some detail while the weather patterns and climate changes which have such a profound effect on a community like Newlyn are also discussed.
Even in Newlyn it's not all about fish. Education and religion are both examined while the evidence of artists, buildings and the census is used to paint a picture of houses and homes. This is supported by two oral history accounts of Newlyn circa 1900 and an account of the vital public health changes of the period. This book is emphatically not about the Newlyn artists, it's about the community into which they moved and the harsh lives of the people who became their hosts.