Cornwall Branch History

Branch History

Jim Lewis Hon Sec, last updated: 4th January 2011

The earliest information we have about the HA in Cornwall is an Annual General Meeting minute book showing that the branch was re-formed in 1963 by schoolteachers. Lecture meetings were held in various schools and these were probably all in the Truro area. The branch always appears to have been kept alive by a small number of committed members and it came close to closure at the end of the 1970s. A re-vitalised branch then started to hold its meetings in the Truro High School for Girls and subsequently in the Cornwall Record Office. Notable speakers in the early 1980s included A J P Taylor, A L Rowse and Dr Ronald Hutton. A wartime 'reminiscence' day for primary schools and 'older generation' people was held at County Hall where John Fines, Britain's leading authority on the teaching of history in schools, taught 8-year-olds how to read documents. In the last ten years we have held a very successful 'Cornish History Day' in Bodmin with an attendance of 120 and the HA Centenary Lecture at the University of Exeter in Cornwall (at Penryn) with an audience of 80+. We have also held a number of summer branch outings.

Up to about ten years ago our branch was largely run and supported by history teachers and other history 'professionals' such as university lecturers, archivists etc. In the last ten years the same individuals have continued to run the branch although they have reached retirement age. 

We continue to hold our meetings in Truro because it has good access by public transport. Many of our members travel quite long distances to attend talks. Because the county is 'out on a limb' travelling and accommodation costs  for speakers have always been substantial. We are now very fortunate to have full support from The University of Exeter in Cornwall and Plymouth University whose lecturers enable us to put on a varied programme at a sustainable cost. Over the past few years our attendances have averaged 25 and we are always trying to increase this figure and broaden our support by advertising our talks to the general public.