Who could have foreseen, in the reign of
Elizabeth I, that this then busy town and trading port, home to ships'
captains, pirates, boat builders and exporters alike, would be succeeded
in importance by Falmouth, which at that time, did not even exist.
Penryn had to diversify and that it did, so that by the 18th century, a
large commercial centre grew along the river with quays for the coal yards
and dressed granite; warehouses and business premises for merchants and
chandlers. Today some of these old premises are used for different
purposes, but in its heyday Penryn exported dressed granite all over the
world. The Suez Canal, Gibraltar, Singapore, Buenos Aires, to name a few,
all used this versatile stone in buildings, wharves and bridges. Closer to
home, it was used to construct London Bridge and the South Bank.
Nowadays, 500 years later and with another Elizabeth on the throne, the
town is near enough connected to Falmouth; such is the nature of
expansion, but it still retains its individuality, due in much part to its
situation on a promontory between two creeks and it remains a very busy
little town. Sailing will never die in this place, so the boatyards and
chandlers survive and now, in addition, we have wood yards, tire centres,
vehicle maintenance, windscreens, garden shops, picture framers and the
like along the shore road.
The intensity of the traffic through the centre has been reduced a little
in recent years as there is now a very good by-pass road. This is not only
a relief to local residents; it also makes it easier for the visitor to
explore this very old restored and interesting granite town.