What Cornwall looked like in the 1970s Through these Captivating Vintage Photos

Can you feel it? The echo of the waves crashing on the shore, the scent of fresh fish and chips wafting through the salty sea breeze? There’s something almost magical about Cornwall in the 1970s, a time when life seemed to move at a slower pace, and the whole world felt like a dreamy kaleidoscope of colors and sounds.

Cornwall, the land of myth and legend, has always been a place of great beauty and character, but the 1970s hold a particular charm. A time before the internet and smartphones, before the clutter of modernity took over. When you could lose yourself in the splendid isolation of the rugged cliffs, the winding coastal paths, and the unspoiled beaches.

As soon as the summer season hit, the otherwise quiet lanes of Cornwall would burst into life. Visitors from across the UK and beyond would flock to this seaside paradise, drawn by the promise of sandy beaches, sparkling blue waters, and the iconic Cornish pasty. B&Bs and holiday parks were abuzz with families and friends, enjoying the simple pleasures of life.

The local culture was at its vibrant best during the 70s. Folk music resonated in the narrow streets of fishing villages such as Mousehole and Polperro, tales of smugglers and seafarers were shared over pints in ancient inns, and the traditional Cornish language could be heard in snatches of conversation, keeping alive the Celtic roots of this charming region.

And who could forget the surf scene? With the advent of affordable surfboards and wetsuits, Cornwall’s beaches became the epicenter of UK surfing in the 1970s. With their carefree spirit and passion for the waves, surfers from Newquay and Bude added a dash of adventure to the tranquil Cornish life.

But it wasn’t just about fun and games. The 1970s were also a period of transition for Cornwall. The decline of traditional industries like mining and fishing led to hardship and change. Yet, this decade also saw the beginning of Cornwall’s transformation into a tourism powerhouse, helping to ensure its economic survival.

Art and literature flourished, inspired by the county’s stunning landscapes. Writers like Daphne du Maurier, who had been living in Cornwall since the 1940s, continued to bring the region’s history and character to life in their works. Artists were captivated by the unique Cornish light, and colonies in places like St Ives became renowned for their contributions to the modern art movement.

The Eden Project, one of Cornwall’s most iconic landmarks today, was still a twinkle in the eyes of Tim Smit and his team in the 70s. But the spirit of conservation and love for nature was already evident. Locals and tourists alike reveled in the natural beauty of Cornwall, from its protected wildlife to its spectacular botanical gardens.

#1 Mooring post with chains and fishing baskets, Boscastle port, Cornwall, April 1970.

#7 Tin Mining in Cornwall, UK. Fight to save Cornwall Tin Mines, Chacewater village, 1978.

#8 View of Boscastle harbor, scenic spot on the north coast of Cornwall, 1971.

#10 Pretty white-washed cottages in Boscastle, picturesque village with a natural harbor and access to the coast path, Cornwall, 1970s.

#13 Rugged coastline at Land’s End, Cornwall, with the famous tea room, the ‘First & Last House’ perched on the clifftop, 1970s.

#15 Wheal Jane Tin Mine near Baldhu and Chacewater in West Cornwall, Cornish Tin Mining Company, 1978.

#18 Wheal Jane Tin Mine near Baldhu and Chacewater in West Cornwall, Cornish Tin Mining Company, 1978.

#20 View of the famous ‘First & Last House’ at Land’s End, historic cottage turned tea room selling Cornish souvenirs and snacks, 1970s.

#22 Exterior view of the ‘First & Last House’ at Land’s End, Cornwall, an old cottage selling refreshments and souvenirs, 1970s.

#23 Tin Miners receive redundancy notices at Wheal Jane Tin Mine, Cornwall, 1978.

#25 View of the ‘First & Last House’ at Land’s End, historic cottage selling refreshments and souvenirs, Cornwall, 1970s.

#26 Engine house at Higher Levant Mine, Trewellard, St Just, Cornwall, 1967-1970.

#30 Flora Day, Furry dance, Children’s procession dance, Helston, Cornwall, 1973.

#31 Crowds watch couples perform the Furry dance during Flora Day in Helston, Cornwall, 1973.

#32 Crowds watch couples perform the Furry dance during Flora Day in Helston, Cornwall, 1973.

#33 St Just in Roseland Church, a 13th-century church set in riverside gardens with semitropical shrubs and trees, Cornwall.

#34 Cottages in Boscastle, including ‘Presents and Pottery’ shop and ‘Valency House’ house, June 1975.

#36 St Just in Roseland Church, a 13th-century church with riverside gardens, Cornwall, June 1975.

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Written by Kevin Clark

Kevin Clark is a historian and writer who is passionate about sharing the stories and significance behind historical photos. He loves to explore hidden histories and cultural contexts behind the images, providing a unique insight into the past.

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