Have a look at the calendar text here to see what's coming up.
Welcome to our community heritage project - ‘Poly Stories’. This project was initiated alongside our community pottery project in the summer of 2020. Both projects were enabled by Arts Council and National Lottery funding won during the first Covid-19 closure of 2020.
The ongoing goal of ‘Poly Stories’ is to invite all residents of Falmouth and beyond, young and old, to submit their memories of The Poly from the end of World War II to the present day. We’re also keen to collect copies of photos or documents that could be added to The Poly’s own archive. The stories collected will be curated and showcased in an ongoing online exhibition.
Our enforced closure gave us pause to reflect on our long history - The Poly has been a Falmouth institution for 187 years! Founded in 1833, the Cornwall Polytechnic Society was the inspiration of Anna Maria and Caroline Fox. They were the teenage daughters of Robert Were Fox of G.C. Fox & Co, a firm of prominent local shipping agents. The firm was also joint owner of the Perran Foundry, whose workmen constantly brought models and inventions for inspection, and new ideas for improving the working of the foundry. With Robert Were Fox’s encouragement, the society was formed ‘to promote the useful and fine arts, to encourage industry, and to elicit the ingenuity of a community distinguished for its mechanical skill’.
Though it sounds a little archaic, this goal still resonates: our priorities today are to encourage and support artistic, creative and technological endeavour and innovation, and contribute to the economic well-being of our town and region by developing The Poly as a premier venue for entertainment, inspiration and education across the arts, sciences and local history. Poly Stories is part of that goal to grow and showcase our collections and archives to support historical research.
From its 19th century focus on technical and industrial innovation, through its shift of focus to the arts in the 1950s, to its rescue from closure in 2010 by the ‘Save Our Poly’ campaign, The Poly has certainly not always had the smoothest journey! But it remains here, in its grade II* listed building in the centre of town, as a centre for the technological, artistic and cultural life of Falmouth and the surrounding area. It is the lived experience of The Poly’s contribution that this project hopes to capture.
We hope you will help us build a richer picture of the history of The Poly, built on the memories of its visitors and supporters. Our goal is that this collaborative project will gives us all the chance to remember and capture our shared history for future generations.
Your stories can come in any form. We’d love memories of special performances or events, longer written pieces, video diaries, audio recordings and photos, and copies of any memorabilia, artefacts or images you might have collected over the years. You can focus on what The Poly means to you, or you can contribute your experience of different eras and events to our wider historical understanding of the social and cultural developments that The Poly has been at the heart of. We can provide audio and film recording, amongst other options, for longer contributions – just get in touch with what you’d like to share!
We’ll be digging into our archive and talking to longstanding Poly contributors to share stimulus material to prompt memories and encourage contributions.