Cornwall Life visits Launceston... Our Town

PUBLISHED: 13:55 25 January 2011 | UPDATED: 20:32 20 February 2013

Cornwall Life visits Launceston... Our Town

Cornwall Life visits Launceston... Our Town

Launceston is a lively town, full of independent shops and visitor attractions, writes Ian Wilkinson

Launceston is a lively town, full of independent shops and visitor attractions, writes Ian Wilkinson

The thriving market town of Launceston occupies a commanding position near Bodmin Moor and it was the Normans who built the magnificent castle that dominates its northern and surrounding countryside. It had the distinction of being the countys only walled town, although today only a medieval gate remains. The towns growth and prosperity owes much to its strategic position, for it also straddled the main road between Cornwall and Devon and became an important commercial centre.
Until 1835 it was the county town of Cornwall, and a stroll along the excellent town trail will reveal a number of architectural gems. Apart from the castle, of particular note is the magnificent parish church of St Mary Magdalene and Castle Street, described by John Betjeman as having the most perfect collection of 18th century town houses in the whole of Cornwall. One of these, Lawrence House, is now the town museum.
Today, Launceston is a lively town and there are many small independent shops occupying the narrow streets that radiate from the main square, including two very good butchers, an old-fashioned sweet shop, a hardware shop selling items that I havent seen for years, and an excellent second-hand bookshop. There are also a couple of jewellers, two good bakers, a wet fish shop and an excellent deli.
The town and the surrounding area have some fine family attractions including a steam railway, the Trethorne Leisure Park, Coronation Park and Leisure Centre, New Mills Farm Park and just across the county border, Dingles Fairground Heritage Centre. And, of course, not forgetting the largest attraction of the lot wild, beautiful Bodmin Moor is right on the doorstep!

Getting there

Travelling from Plymouth, take the A388 to Launceston. From Truro, take the A390 to St Austell, then the A391 to meet the A30 that takes you over Bodmin to Launceston. For further information visit Launceston TIC, Market House Arcade, Market Street, Launceston, PL15 8EP. 01566 772321 or

Paul Geach is the proprietor of the Alley Gallery, which opened in April 2010. Its an old town with a rich history and theres a great community spirit with lots of friendly people. The arts and cultural side of the town is thriving. Weve a very good folk museum, a drama group, the Gwynnla art group and theres going to be a film club in the Town Hall. Theres lots to do for people to relax and theres a good sports centre and golf club.

Cym Downing lives in the nearby village of Tregadillett and runs a local group in Launceston. Launceston is a lovely old walled medieval town with narrow winding streets. There are some lovely little independent shops I like Warrens, the butchers and Barnecutts the bakers. Oh, and also Lokaroma is a great place to go for gifts and the like. There are some nice places to eat in Launceston as well. We go quite often to Trethorne Leisure Park for Sunday lunch.

Lindsay Hartgroves is a library assistant at the towns Cornwall Council Library. Its a bustling town and everyone seems to know everyone else! I know that visitors are often impressed by how helpful people are to them. It has an awful lot of history attached to it old Launceston is a favourite subject for biographers and local historians. The town has some great places to eat most of the pubs serve good food and for something a little different Harveys Wine Bar in Church Street is particularly good.

David Knight has lived in Launceston since he was 12 years old and has worked in the White Hart Hotel since he was 14. He now works in the restaurant and behind the bar. Everyone knows everybody in Launceston its a really friendly town with a very close community, and if you walk down the street lots of people say hello or give you a friendly wave. For visitors a must-see is the castle it really is very impressive. To relax, I like to play football; theres lots of sports clubs and a couple of gyms in the town. At weekends its nice to get together with friends and go to a local pub. Theres a new nightclub opening soon called Storm and that will be really good for young people."

Lavinia Archer is the manager of the local Cards for Good Causes shop and is heavily involved in the community, being chair of the local community bus and the Childrens Hospice group. Its a really friendly place with a wonderful community spirit and people are amazingly generous to the towns charities. To relax, I like to walk. Coronation Park is lovely and I walk my dog there you can see for miles from the top.

Richard Graham runs The Bookshop in Launceston and is also treasurer of the Chamber of Commerce and secretary of the Charles Causley Society. There is a wonderful town trail and a museum that tells the story of the towns history very well. Its an old walled medieval town and until the 1950s we even had a curfew bell one of the last towns in the country to carry on that tradition. Apart from the history theres the Steam Railway and the Farm Park and, of course, just across the Tamar there is the Dingles Fairground Heritage Centre. Theres plenty of good places to enjoy a pint. The Bell, just underneath the church tower and The White Hart Hotel in the town centre are both good, and for younger people, Number 8 and Harveys Wine bar are both excellent. I think this is one of Cornwalls hidden gems.

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