On this day

May 20, 1897

cover page of Cornishman published on May 20, 1897






Available years

1878-1950, 1990-1991

The Cornishman was founded by a Barnstaple reporter, Albert Wildman, and launched on Thursday, July 18, 1878 as a weekly newspaper dedicated to ‘One & All’.  Under the editorship of Herbert Thomas, who took over the paper in 1902, it was amalgamated with the Camborne based Cornish Post and later the Cornishman’s age-old rival the Cornish Telegraph.  

Pictures first appeared in ads in the paper in the late 1890s, but the first news picture was that taken when Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show came to Penzance in May 1904. The show’s photographer, Mr Small, took a group of Sioux Indian chiefs to Lands’ End in a car and photographed them standing arrayed along the cliff top wearing their feathered headdresses. 

In April 1918, Herbert Thomas broke with tradition and moved first edition publication from Thursday to Wednesday.  This was to last until May 1926 when a Thursday edition was produced as well, the paper having already ceased its earlier Saturday issue.

The Cornishman’s greatest news coup came in 1920 when it was the first paper in Britain to break the news of the murder of the Tsar and his family at Ekaterinburg.  This was possible because Cornish engineer, Mr Arthur Thomas, managed to visit the house where the murders took place after the Bolsheviks retreated from the area and then got back to Cornwall to tell his story to Herbert Thomas.

Starting in July 1944, the paper ceased appearing on Wednesdays and became a Thursday publication only, where it has remained ever since. And that same year, the Cornishman was acquired by the Western Morning News Co, which already owned the Cornish Guardian and the West Briton. As post war emergency restrictions lifted so the paper carried more pages and editions for Camborne/Redruth, Helston, Isles of Scilly, St Ives, West Penwith and Penzance again appeared, price 3d.

In December 1948 Herbert Thomas retired after nearly 50 years as editor.  In January 1971, the first pictures and news stories appeared on the front page which, traditionally, had carried estate agents ads.  On this new front page was a picture of a nine-year-old girl called Paula, with her head stuck through an old format paper.  For the paper’s centenary in 1978 a special edition was produced replicating the very first issue with stories and pictures reflecting the 100 years of reporting local news. The first week of December 1983 saw the Cossar press in Penzance print its last edition of the paper in the case room as computer technology took over, enabling the paper to be printed at Truro.  On October 9, 1992, after a reader survey voiced a preference for a smaller paper, the Cornishman went tabloid.  Colour first appeared on the pages in 1995 and following a recent move in the location of the printing press, the paper became full colour in March 2010.


For this newspaper, we have the following titles in, or planned for, our digital archive:

  • 1878–1944 The Cornishman
  • 1944–50 The Cornishman
  • 1990–91 The Cornishman.
  • 1990–91 The Cornishman.

This newspaper is published by Reach PLC in Penzance, Cornwall, England. It was digitised and first made available on the British Newspaper Archive in Apr 17, 2013 . The latest issues were added in Aug 23, 2023.