IT’S hard to imagine a Prime Ministerial visit to Falmouth today going “almost unnoticed,” but that’s the way it was for Ramsay Macdonald, one of our greatest historical figures, in 1932, writes Mike Truscott.
Or at least that was the verdict of the old Cornish Echo (previously the Falmouth & Penryn Weekly Times and absorbed by the Packet in 1952).
Britain’s first Labour PM came over from Newquay “by motor car” and his first stop was Burton’s Old Curiosity Shop in Market Street, which he knew from a previous visit. Here he bought an entire perfect collection of blue Chinese vases (“quaint Staffordshire snuff-taker figures”).
Mr Macdonald was then taken to the Docks to see the latest big project – construction of the Empire Wharf (demolished several years ago).
He showed special interest in the turpentine piles that had been shipped over from Australia – keeping the business “within the Empire,” as the Docks put it.
His daughter Ishbell and lady companions visited other shops in the town, said the Echo, while the man himself enjoyed a “cordial reception” from the workmen at the Docks.
After lunch at the Falmouth Hotel, the party enjoyed “a walk along the southern portion of Castle Drive, which is sheltered from the east wind.” Then they visited the burgeoning Swanvale housing “suburb,” built by the Falmouth Docks and Engineering Company for its employees.
The Echo reported: “Mr Macdonald praised this effort to comfortably house the work people and provide them with pleasant surroundings.” In such difficult times, it was important that “we should all work together.”
It also noted that “although the weather was cold, the Premier looked in the best of health, as though deriving much benefit from his stay in Cornwall.”