The name Killacourt may be a corruption of the Celtic Killas, meaning grove and Quoit, meaning burial place. The trees were removed in the late 1920's to afford an uninterrupted view to the sea. It is from this ancient site in the heart of Newquay that the Newquay Discovery Trail begins. The view from the Killacourt, with its ornamental flower beds and millenium sundial hadn't changed in thousands of years.
During the nineteenth century Newquay grew into a thriving community and the activities on Towan beach below were very different from those of today. The sea has always been important to the people of Newquay. Before the coming of railways and tourism, the town's wealth came from: farming, mining, boat building, seafaring and fishing. Boats were built at the Island end of Towan beach. Fish cellars, where freshly caught pilchards were salted and packed into barrels, fringed the town. Although no longer to be seen, some of their names live on. How many can you recognise as you walk through the town: The Spy, the Hope, the Unity, the Fly? The country's first steam laundry was built on the site of the Treffry cellar. The Cosy Nook theatre, which in turn has given way to the Blue Reef Aquarium, stood on the site of the Speculation cellar, nicknamed 'Fat and Flour.'
Try to imagine the beach below you in the mid 1800's. Old women in shawls carrying baskets of fish, others carrying bundles of washing, old men struggling with sacks of coal for the laundry boilers, young men hauling boats onto the beach, mothers and daughters gutting and salting fish. The noise of sawing and hammering from the boat yard, the relentless pounding and throbbing of the laundry steam engines; the hot, well smell from the laundry and the distinctive aroma of fish being carried on the breeze. A community working together. We shall see later, how they played, competed and on occasion fought together.
In front of you is Jago's Island. There has been a dwelling on this island from the turn of the twentieth century. Its many occupants have included Dr O'Flaherity, a reclusive Irish Canadian eccentric whose haunting organ music, carried on the night air, could be heard throughout the occupant, Alexander Lodge, the inventor of the Lodge Sparking Plug. His father, Sir Oliver Joseph Lodge, who wrote widely on the connection between science and religion, especially spiritualism, was a frequent visitor as was his friend, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes stories.
Text taken from The Newquay Discovery Trail co-ordinated by the Newquay Chamber of Commerce. Full illustrated copies can be obtained from the Tourist Information CentreA Newquay Tourism Enhancement Project funded by European Regional Development Fund