Tolcarne Cross

Tolcarne Cross, Newquay, by Keith Riley
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Tolcarne Cross, Newquay, by Keith Riley

From the Barrowfields, proceed along Chester Road into Whitegate Road. It is interesting to note that before these roads and streets were laid, local farms and hamlets were connected to the harbour by a series of potholed tracks and lanes. At the junction of one of these tracks stood an impressive Cornish stone hedge with a white gate, through which a muddy track led to Tretherras Farm. This was the domain of the influential, land owning, Cardell family. There are many stories involving members of this family, some of which have gone down in Newquay folklore. Remember the farmer who removed the stones from the barrows on the Barrowfields? On November 27th 1866 John Cardell, aged 25 years, fell over the cliff by the Prouts Hotel, now the Red lion at the top of North Quay Hill. As he lay on the rocks below his groans were heard by passers by who rushed to his aid. Still alive, yet terribly injured, his body was gently lifted and laid on a cart which was drawn back to Tretherras Farm. As they passed through the white gate, the cart lurched and John’s body was thrown from the cart, his head dashed on the rock strewn track. Dr. Boyle was summoned and inspected the body of poor John Cardell; he pronounced, “Life extinct”. It is said that in the dead of night, on the anniversary of John’s death, a headless horseman can be seen jumping over the white gate.

A cross has stood on this site for hundreds of years. The present Tolcarne Cross is a replica placed on the original base by Sir Robert Edgcumbe. Sir Robert came from an important Cornish family and the name Edgecumbe can be found throughout Newquay in roads, avenues, even hotels.

On your left, Newquay Bowling Club, where the Tolcarne Brick Works once operated, is now the start of the Trenance Leisure Park. From here the Trenance Viaduct dominates the view. The first viaduct, a trestlework structure, was built in 1849 as part of Treffry’s Horse drawn Tramway and became known as the Trenance Spider.

Trenance Gardens, Newquay by Keith Riley
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Trenance Gardens, Newquay by Keith Riley

As you pass under the viaduct and cross into the gardens the mood and atmosphere changes. This tranquil area is one of which we are rightly proud. Try and find the seat, made from Tolcarne Bricks, built into the long, high, stone-edged bed between the main paths leading to the many flower displays. Those of you who have been to the Eden Project or just have a love of flora, may well be interested in the third big tree down from the brick seat; it is a rare example of a Dawn Redwood, recognised by its distinctive Christmas tree shape, its soft needles and rough peeling bark. This tree is a botanical marvel because it was thought to be extinct. However, in 1946 a solitary specimen was discovered in China. Seeds were carefully collected from that lone tree and brought back to Kew Gardens. This specimen was from that original batch of seeds. I hope you take time to relax and enjoy this beautiful area of Newquay.