Part of the Acorn Archive

Penzance, Cornwall

Architecture and Heritage

Penzance and Modern

For that is what it was seen as, modern.

We now apply the name of Art Deco.

Not the least of which is the Jubilee Pool.

However, others are there to be found in Penzance.

Frederick George Drewitt, returned from Shanghai and ended up in Penzance in the 1910s.

His younger brother Colin Minors Drewitt returned from Montreal and came to Penzance in the 1930s.

Two men could not be more different in their choice of architectural style,

because of their totally different architectural lives.

However, they both had the finest of their respective styles to offer.

For me, since Oliver Caldwell,

(ignoring, if I may, other singular meritorious achievements)

no one has contributed so much quality and order to the town’s architecture,

as the Drewitt family, and in that I include Geoffrey B Drewitt, son of F G Drewitt.

In terms of architectural discipline, there can be no better.

This town is the better for their contribution.

Colin Drewitt’s buildings


Before you continue to Colin Drewitt’s work,

I will note two fine shop fronts of Penzance.


Regrettably, only one remains.

It is one of the finest shop fronts I have seen,

and certainly well nigh the best in Penzance.

I do not know the precise date of building,

but the shop was first built and occupied by the

Penzance and District Electric Supply Co Ltd.,

whose phone number was Penzance 81.

In 1935, the King George V Jubilee was commemorated not just by the opening of the Pool,

but the Electric shop also was fully decorated,

and my aunt took a photograph of the shop display.

The shop front probably dates from around 1924.

It used the very innovative cladding material Vitrolite, which was introduced in 1920,

and it swept through the architectural world.

Glass took on many new forms in that age,

as well as artificial lighting of glass the like of which has never been seen again.

The shopfront in Causewayhead still graces our town,

but some of the present sheets are showing signs of distress;

I hope that this frontage will be with us for many years to come.

The other frontage was that at Nr 38 Market Place, the premises of Opie’s the Chemist.

An uncle worked there as a youngster,

and so I have inherited a photograph from him of the staff standing at the shopfront.

The date appears to be in the 1950s. I remember that the shopfront remained in use as Rediffusion;

it has been replaced by the usual non-descript un-inspiring frontage that dominates our town.


Causewayhead 1935

Causewayhead 2007

38 Market Place

If anyone recognises anyone – please let me know

I can provide a bigger scan if requested



Raymond Forward