There is much talk of the demise of the high street, however, some have not only bucked the trend but are more vibrant than ever. The continuous shopping street in Falmouth with different names along its length is one of these. From steep High Street with its antique shops and cafes past the pier and the Market Street coffee shops to Church Street with its speciality outlets, cinema, bookshops, pubs and the Parish church of Charles The Martyr brooding over its more-worldly surroundings.
Much of this success is down to demographics, the increasing student population, the docks and harbour facilities and good parking. But the physical environment with its twists and turns, opes and courtyards, as well as its small and intimate scale, and its mix of cars and people which metropolitan planners are only just coming around to recognising as a way forward. I am always amazed at how old-fashioned and slow on the uptake the London metropolitan area is in comparison, so far behind Cornwall.
This is the first of my ‘Jottings from Falmouth’ and I will be discussing how the architecture fosters this success and in addition the threats and the opportunities that are endemic when success creates clear economic opportunities for developers.
I would like to finish with this poem which perfectly captures the morning reawakening ready for a new day of this living entity, Market Street,
Falmouth Sound Bites
Street sweepers ground the cobbles
through morning hazy, mist,
hollow thuds, the vans of M & S
with fresh delivered day.
Coffee shops open street wise
Students sit, shoppers bustle Tragos.
Ferries ply Flushing and St Mawes
River reaches side to side.
Docks vibrate their lunchtime news,
Buskers twang and stir the day,
Distanced King Charles
resonates aloud time passing.
These merge, waning light,
Restaurants, music laughter, smells,
dark boats jingle river deeps,
A sense of day to come.
by Valerie Hockaday
Painting ‘Embracing the Sky, Falmouth’ by Alice Hole