The official page of the Looe Old Cornwall Society (LOCS)
Kowethas Kernow Goth Logh
Founded in 1927 the society’s aims are to celebrate and promote Cornish culture and customs. We preserve and record Cornwall’s unique heritage, language and dialect and care for its environment.
“Kyntell An Brewyon Es Gesys Na Vo Kellys Travyth”
– “Gather Ye The Fragments That Are Left That Nothing Be Lost”
LOOE IN A NUTSHELL By Roger Bennett
Go back a thousand years and beyond and you will see the two steep sides of the valley covered with trees (no buildings) – sylvan bliss teeming with wild life; a river, twice as wide as now (no quays), forming a lake-alike (hence the name, Looe); and a shingly/sandy beach (no pier), behind which stood a few cottages belonging to fisherfolk and built on sand sediment.
Now this would make a perfect place for a pilgrimage by the Looe Old Cornwall Society!
By the 1200s, a little settlement had developed on the sand near the mouth of the river, a grid of narrow streets and fishermen’s cottages. A prominent building was the chapel-of-ease, consecrated in 1259, known as St. Mary on the Marsh. This saved the fisherfolk from struggling up Barbican Hill to eventually reach the parish church of St Martin. (There were three regenerations of St. Mary’s until it closed in 1982 and eventually converted into flats for local people in low-paid employment.)
Other buildings surviving from the Middle Ages include the Old Guildhall, the “Olde Cottage” in Buller Street, the Fisherman’s Arms, the Salutation, and “Ye Old House,” now the Golden Guinea. There are others. In West Looe, there is St. Nicholas Church, dating from at least 1336, the Jolly Sailor and several old cottages.
Moving out of the Middle Ages, Looe freed itself form the manorial system which had controlled West Looe (Porthallow), and East Looe (Paindraim), and Charters were granted in 1574 and 1587 respectively. Today we can see the original magistrates bench which was installed in the Guildhall (the museum), and the gaols down below. In West Looe, St Nicholas Church was taken over as a Guildhall, and a prison added on the north side.
Industry was considerable: fishing, tin-streaming, cloth-making, boat-building, and as time went on, cargo vessels traded copper, cement, wood. All this was aided by the construction of a canal in 1840, which was superseded by the railway, 1860, and better roads.
Then Looe became a tourist centre.
This is far too brief, so I append a list of books to give you the detail:
The Book of Looe: Mark Camp and Barbara Birchwood-Harper
A History of East and West Looe: John Keast
A History of Looe: John Smythe
East Looe: John Southern
West Looe: John Southern
The Life of St. Mary’s Church: Roger Bennett
The Story of St. Nicholas Church: Roger Bennett