THE BEAUTY OF CORNWALL'S CAPITAL
Spend autumn rediscovering the pleasures of Cornwall’s perfectly proportioned capital city, says Malcolm Bell from Visit Cornwall
Everyone knows Truro, usually for its shopping (and maybe park and rides and bus lanes). It is the retail capital of our wonderful Duchy but most of our visitors to Cornwall tend to only think about coming to Truro on a grey or wet day.
Truro has changed in so many ways since I was a boy, as it is the town, or should I say city, that I grew up in all those decades ago. Truro was not always a shopping Mecca, as when I grew up it was not rated for its shops and my mum, along with most of the other Truro families, used to go to either Falmouth to shop or - maybe more surprising for some - Redruth. Redruth had a big department store and many other shops and Truro was more of a sleepy market town, which by mid-afternoon on most days was almost deserted and certainly not the shopping centre for around half a million people, as it is today.
Having grown up in Trura’ I have so many fond memories, such as when I was a toddler, I clearly remember being on those toddler reins, which were blue with a lamb on the front and bells. I had an obsession about trying to jump into the running water in the road gutters in Boscawen Street and every time I got close enough, my mother would suddenly pull me back. I remember calling in to see my grandfather in Miners the butchers, as he always had sweets in the front pocket of his butcher apron, so it was always worth seeing him. Truro fascinated me with the back lanes and opes especially squeeze guys alley’. I would transverse the centre using these short cuts. It had great local markets including, the cattle market right in the city, as well as local shops and all the local characters. It was also funny to have Muttons the Butcher and Mallets the ironmongers – it was our version of toy town.
Anyway enough of my trip down memory lane (rather than a bus lane!) But the next time you come to Truro to shop, take extra time to start to explore this amazing little City. It’s not just about the national chain stores and international coffee bars it has a great history so why not sign-up for the tour organised by the Truro Tourist Information Centre (TIC) and while you in there look at the books and local goodies on offer in the TIC. Don’t forget to visit the museum, which has amazing collections and exhibits as well as a great art collection. Those are just two non-shopping activities, but there are many events and the gallery’s and certainly take the time to have lunch or stay on for dinner in the many local eateries – no need for chain restaurants that plague larger cities.
But there is the hidden Truro, some of it is all around you in the summer and others you have to take the time and trouble to go to. Truro has for decades prided itself on its gardens and flower displays and is a multiple winner in the Britain in Bloom competition over the years. Take a trip to Victoria Garden, it is a gem of garden only minutes from the heart of the city and then there is Boscawen Park with loads of things to do for the children.
So please take the time to really discover or maybe rediscover our great little city and as the wonderful staff at the Tourist Information Centre keep quite rightly reminding me, that when visitors from other parts of the UK and especially overseas guests come to Truro for the first time, they are blown away often referring to it as Cornwall’s Bath – they love the history the architecture and the independent shops and eateries – so if it is good enough for visitors, it is definitely good enough for us locals.