Following the river from the city center, past Boscawan Park and to the much loved village of Malpas, it’s easy to miss one of Truro’s most cherished spots. Those that stumble along the flower clad sun trap can’t help but spend a moment relaxing beside the riverbank spotting herons on the horizon. Rewind just a few years ago and this was not the case. After being part of the Truro landscape for over 100 years, the area fell into disrepair and was unusable, a sight that caused Truro local Paul Caruana to seek it’s regeneration.
We spoke to Paul to find out more about our favourite hidden spot and discovered a wealth of history dating as far back as Queen Victoria.
“Sunny Corner has been part of my life for almost 65 years. I learned to swim there, did my crabbing there as a kid and some courting there too.” Paul remembers “In the 1950s it was fronted by a shale beach with a river more akin to an open sewer. Nevertheless, it was the place to go for a swim if you couldn’t afford the train fare to the coast'”
The first mention of Sunny Corner can be traced back to Queen Victoria in 1856. After visiting Truro she noted in her diaries, people in their boats and in carts waving and cheering.
Paul notes “The shelter has been in existence for almost 112 years. It has had various uses, the main one being the home of Truro Swimming a club as far back as 1938. In the latter years it became derelict and was used as a shelter by the homeless and others too.”
“Having used Sunny Corner for most of my life, I walked by in 2015 and thought to myself – this place is going to fall down before too long. That drove me to find out who owned and was responsible for it.”
To Paul’s surprise four organisations have a say in the running of Sunny Corner. Cornwall Council, St Clement Parish Council, Truro City Council and the Harbour Master. After making contact with them Paul discover the plan was to knock it down and let it return to nature.
“That was enough to get me to investigate the best way forward and that was to let other local Truronians know the plan. In no time at all, through social media, we hatched a plan that had the backing of the Harbour Master. In February 2016, a group of 15 volunteers came together with the aim of rebuilding the shelter. That we did in just under a week or so. Once finished, we all agreed to continue the improvement of Sunny Corner by removing an enormous amount of gorse and blackthorn to facilitate the planting of bulbs and shrubs. That work continues to this day.”
Since then there have been a picnic benches installed, a BBQ area, recycling and refuse units. Paul and the rest of the volunteers are responsible for maintaining these.
Today they are headed by a committee of four, but have an additional 20 volunteers who meet every Tuesday to maintain the site.
“Many have been involved since we started the renovation project. Our oldest is a gent called Arthur Fitzgerald who is 92 this year. He never misses a week and is the heart and soul of what we do. Another, Pauline Westaway, has been a volunteer since we started and is our “go to” lady for anything to do with plants. Volunteers all have a connection with Sunny Corner, either by using it as youngsters or by visiting it over the years”
Since starting in 2016 the group have received an “Outstanding” award from the Royal Horticultural Society’s “In Your Neighbourhood” scheme every year. The scheme recognises the work that community groups do in the local area.
They’re part of the Truro in Bloom “Champion of Champions” Cup winners team and have also been recognised by the queen.
“We were awarded the Queens Award for Voluntary Service in 2021, which culminated in a visit to Buckingham Palace to attend a Royal Garden Party. We’re the only group in Cornwall to receive the award. The Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall visited Sunny Corner to present the award last August. Both myself and Arthur attended the party after a fundraiser was put together. We also had a guided tour of the House of Commons, arranged by the Chief of Staff and our local MP. A wonderful trip for any 91 year old.”
“We’ve had lots of grants provided to us. Since 2019 though, we have been self funding by holding three events a year and having a raffle. Passers by often stop and donate too which helps us.” They aim to raise around £2,000 each year to keep the site in good condition.
Sunny Corner is a 30 minute walk, or 10 minute drive from The Alverton, along the riverbank (please note this river is tidal) and passes Boscawen Park.
You can find out more about Sunny Corner on the Facebook Group here.