Exploring The History of Newquay: 3 Spots to See on a Walking Tour of The Town

23 May 2023

Nestled on the North coast of Cornwall, Newquay is a lively town renowned for its beautiful beaches, stunning scenery and exciting outdoor adventures. But Newquay is much more than simply a tourist hotspot, it holds a fascinating history dating back to the 15th century, evolving from a tiny port town to the modern premier resort we know and love today.

If you are wishing to explore the interesting history of this town, keep reading as we take you on a walking tour around Newquay, discovering the town’s rich history of smugglers, fishing trade and music history. We will explore all the fascinating moments in history that have shaped the iconic town of Newquay, let’s get started:

Towan Harbour

Starting your walking tour of Newquay by the shores of Towan, Newquay Harbour is brimming with history, so much so, our beloved town is actually named after the original harbour.

Back in 1439, the Bishop of Exeter granted permission for a stone quay to be built in the manor of Towan Blystra. This was known to locals as the ‘new quay’ and formed the origin of the town’s name today!

In 1832, construction of the present harbour began as a vital development for the town’s fishing industry. The harbour acted as a safe haven for fishing boats, with the dock allowing for easy export of goods including China clay, iron ore and grain, and import of coal, manure, salt and limestone. The harbour was also notorious for smuggling, with illicit items smuggled into Newquay under the cover of night.

Towan Harbour is also home to the old fish cellars, used to store and process fish caught in the harbour – work which was crucial to the local economy. Today, the old fish cellars have been converted into a popular restaurant and bar, offering visitors a taste of Newquay’s history and culture.

Once you have explored all around the harbour, continue your walking tour up the hill towards The Atlantic Hotel where you will find a large, white brick building. Here you will find the next destination on your Newquay tour: Huer’s Hut.

Huer’s Hut

Situated just outside of The Atlantic Hotel, Huer’s Hut was originally built in the 14th century as a lookout point for Newquay’s fishing industry, making it about 600 years old. The Huer (aka the lookout man) would stand watch for shoals of pilchard and alert the fisherman to their whereabouts.

When a shoal was spotted, the Huer would shout “Hevva!”, which is Cornish for “raise it”, and raise a white pole. When this signal was given, the whole village would drop whatever they were doing and launched their fleet of ships in pursuit of the pilchards.

The job of the Huer was a serious one, his sharp eyes and concentration were essential to the livelihood and welfare of the entire community, with pilchards being one of Newquay’s biggest income and food sources.

Today, the Huer’s Hut is a popular spot for stunning panoramic views across Newquay Bay and the variety of beaches that line the shore. To access the hut, find The Atlantic Hotel and follow the coastal footpath around the back until you come to the white hut.


Magical Mystery Tour at The Atlantic Hotel

The final spot on the walking tour of Newquay: The Atlantic Hotel. If you are a Beatles fan, you will be interested to know that history not only lies along the shores but also within our own walls. Back in 1967, The Atlantic Hotel played host to one of the worlds most famous bands.

Their stay was part of the iconic Magical Mystery Tour movie, based on a tour around Britain, and brought with it hysteria to the streets of Newquay as Liverpool’s most famous sons arrived to hordes of adoring fans.

Today, guests to The Atlantic Hotel can retrace the famous fours steps and iconic locations they visited including the pool that was used for the above shot, the front garden where Paul McCartney spent time engaging with fans, the Huers Hut, and the iconic back garden steps where the now-famous group shot was taken.

If you want to read more about The Beatles’ stay at our historic hotel, check out this blog giving you all the information:

The Beatles Iconic stay at The Atlantic Hotel

Why not immerse yourself in the full Beatles experience and dine in the very hotel the group ate in 50 years ago. With tempting local delicacies, afternoon tea to light-bites, we have something for everyone. Retrace the steps of the famous band and call our friendly team on 01637 872244 to book your own slice of BeatleMania.


Exploring Newquay’s rich history through a walking tour is a fantastic way to experience the town’s intriguing past, developing from the small seaside town into the popular holiday destination we know today. At The Atlantic, we are proud of our town’s heritage, and sincerely hope you have a wonderful time exploring its past.

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