May 23, 2019

Porthleven Town Council is delighted to share the news that the recent consultation on the future use of the Bickford Smith Institute was received well by the community.

A Working Party of Councillors and members of the community, working alongside heritage consultants and using funding from the National Heritage Lottery Fund, have drawn up future plans for the iconic Institute.

At the ‘Let’s Talk About It’ open day in April, residents and visitors were able to view the suggested plans, which centre around returning the main hall of the building to community use and offering programmed events drawing on the building’s original intended use as a literary and scientific Institute. The event ran alongside a re-showing of the Networks project – the story of the net makers of Porthleven – which is a wonderful example of the type of project that might use the building as a base in the future, drawing in new audiences to share the heritage of the building, and of Porthleven.

A digital heritage centre and an office for the Town Clerk were also presented as part of the plans, as well as the idea of including a glass ceiling so visitors can see up the Clocktower when they enter it, and gain access up the tower in selected dates. Finally, the plans included a studio holiday let and a plan to hold 20 weddings a year. These elements provide the necessary funding to ensure the project is financially sustainable and can offer reduced hire rates for community groups.

Around 200 people visited the event and of the comments left by visitors 95% were either positive or neutral. 77% of those leaving a postcode lived in the TR13 zone.

Porthleven’s new Mayor Bev Plunkett said: “When we talked people through the plans as a whole, we were very pleased at the level of support for breathing new life into the building. We would like to thank everyone who took the time to come and understand the plans. Reactions were really positive and there are also a few suggestions we will feed into our plans going forwards.

“There is still a long way to go with this project but we would not have taken it forward without the support of the community, so we are delighted to have had this conversation and received support – which will be crucial for any successful bid. The next step is to write up a final report for the National Heritage Lottery Fund to complete the current piece of work and then the real work will begin.”

Following the completion of the report to the NHLF on the spending of the initial grant of £20,700, the team will then need to prepare a full bid to part- fund the restoration of the building and to start fundraising for the remainder. Anyone who is interested in helping with fundraising is invited to get in touch with the Town Council on