A new book reveals a much-loved stretch of Cornish coastline as it looked more than a century and a half ago


A NEW and very beautiful book has been published to coincide with an exhibition in Bude showcasing the work of North Cornwall’s most renowned photographers – the Thorn family.

Thorns of Bude – Pioneer Photographers Tintagel to Clovelly celebrates the very first photographers with a selection of never previously seen published and unpublished photographs taken from 1850s-1930s.

For those who don’t know, the Thorn photographers were pioneers of the art in Bude and this book written and compiled by David Thorn and Stuart Thorn is a labour of love celebrating their family’s enormous contribution to Cornish history.

Harry Thorn was the first photographer in the village - as it then was - in the 1850s, when the population of Bude stood at a mere 600. He began to record the events of the day using this fledging technology, which would quickly go on to change the way we see the world.

Harry photographed events of the day – which often included shipwrecks which at that time were a common occurrence. The son of a carpenter, Harry did not have the advantage of wealth - and as one of ten children, there was little to invest in his fledgling but talent means he quickly became accomplished at the new art.

He was a true pioneer for Bude in a field with many hazards, particularly the chemicals used, chemistry was in its early days,’ says his great-great nephew David Thorn. And his interest cost him his life. It is probable that the chemicals lead to his early demise, at the age of 38, in 1876.’

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By the 1860s he was joined by his sister Sarah, brother Samuel Jnr and later his niece Nellie and Jake Harrison, who carried on the business after his death until 1932. Between them they have left us with a wonderful pictorial record of the area from Clovelly to Tintagel,; adds David.

For the many lovers of Cornwall, this stretch of North Cornwall in particular and photography in general, this wonderful book offers an opportunity to see the earliest images of the area as it actually was. Before there were only paintings or drawings of which there are only a few – and allowing for an artist’s eye and their tendency to improve’ upon the real landscape. w

The book launch coincided with an exhibition of some of the works on show at Bude Castle.

Published by Halstar, Thorns of Bude – Pioneer Photographers Tintagel to Clovelly, is also available from