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Protecting Cornwall's Distinctiveness

Cornwall has just under 14,000 sites, buildings and monuments protected on the National Heritage List for England - that's 14% of the South West's total. Over the last ten years, we've added over 200 new sites to the List for Cornwall - only Somerset has had more additions over this time.

Within this rich resource are historic sites that give Cornwall its distinctive local character.

  • Discover three special Cornish sites that are now protected by listing:
  1. The Ullies, Porthgwarra, Penzance
  2. Josiah Thomas Memorial Building, Camborne
  3. Cornish Milestones and Guideposts

The Ullies, Porthgwarra, Penzance

Lying on the foreshore beneath a tiny fishing settlement on the Cornish coast, the ‘ullies’ (a local term) are an unusual set of granite tanks, formed by the careful movement of large rocks, for the containment of live shellfish prior to their shipment to market. The rocks were partly cemented in place, and a free flow of the tide, in and out of the tanks, was provided. Timber lids were originally fixed to the tops (the hinges remain) to deter the shellfish from climbing out, crabs being notoriously agile and persistent escapees. Vital for the guaranteed freshness of the catch prior to sale, the ‘ullies’ were the equivalent of refrigeration units. Other known examples are few, and apparently confined to the south-east of the country. This rarity, and its strong local context, underpinned the case for protection through scheduling in 2014.

Granite 'ullies' - storage tanks for live shellfish - at Porthgwarra near Penzance.
The recently scheduled 'ullies' - granite tanks for the storage of live shellfish before taking them to market - at Porthgwarra, Penzance © Historic England

Josiah Thomas Memorial Building, Camborne

Originally opened in 1872 as the Tehidy Working Men’s Club, this handsome Italianate building is an early purpose-built example of its kind in the heart of what was once Cornwall’s principal mining town. Its twin-gabled façade makes use of the area’s strongly coloured granites. From 1935 it became part of the Camborne School of Mines, when it was renamed after Captain Josiah Thomas, manager of the Dolcoath mine and a prominent figure in the Cornish mining industry. It was listed at Grade II in 2012.

Josiah Thomas Memorial Building, Camborne, Cornwall
The Josiah Thomas Memorial Building, Camborne, Cornwall. Listed grade II. © Creative Commons (Ashley Dace)

Cornish milestones and guideposts

A total of 134 milestones and guide posts have been listed in Cornwall in the past 10 years. Guideposts and mileposts are a surprisingly fragile historical resource, being vulnerable to loss, theft and damage. As roads these days frequently undergo alteration, these old milestones and guideposts stand as testament to a pre-motorised age and the development of transport networks.

The guidepost at Bosullow Common dates to the first half of the 19th century. It forms part of a distinct group of guideposts within the former district of Penwith which have pictorial representation as well as lettering. The exact origins of these guideposts are not clearly documented, but they may have helped people to find their way around the developing 19th century mining landscape in this area.

Bosullow Common guidepost, Cornwall
The early 19th century guidepost at Bosullow Common, Cornwall © Creative Commons (Gary Rogers)

Get involved! Enrich the List in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly

Add your knowledge and photos to our understanding of Cornwall's important historic sites. Your contribution - whether a photograph, a family story, a newspaper article, or an archive document - could enrich The List for generations to come.


Find out how to Enrich the List


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