Local News 2013 Local News in Roseland Peninsula

‘How Tregothnan ruined the best treasure in the Roseland’ – An Open Letter by Johan Balslev

philleigh-4Roseland Online today received an open letter by Gerrans resident, Johan Balslev. (Response from Tregothnan below)


As usual when we have visitors, the place to visit is the historic place at Tolverne with the Smugglers Cottage.

What a shock to find the place closed and looking like a dump, which is no less than an abuse of Roseland’s historic past relating to D-day.

When Tregothnan took over from the Newman family, they first took the soul out of the place by no  longer displaying the D-day history and by over staffing and over pricing.

They tried to make the place posh.

It did not help to promote local Tregothnan Tea, which is not pure Tregothnan Tea, but blended with Tea mostly from Assam. Then they closed the place without giving any date for the reopening.

How come the Newman family could run Tolverne as viable business for many years and Tregothnan messes it up? Closing Tolverne may also affect the very beautiful boat trips up the River Fall to Falmouth.

To keep Tolverne and Smugglers Cottage open is of public interest, and it would be appropriate for the Cornwall County Council to intervene.

As well as the Roseland resident’s creation of “Friends of Pendower Beach” we should create a “Friends of Tolverne” to preserve this Roseland treasure, and not leave it to Tregothnan to ruin this historic place.

Johan Balslev


Official response from Tregothnan – 5th August 14.39:

Smugglers at Tolverne is closed in 2013 for essential works before a tenant can re-open the premises in 2014. The site is safety fenced while it is designated as a building site. (Signage may have been tampered with on Saturday when police found an intruder on site.) In the meantime it is an absolute requirement of future tenants that industrial shipping is not moored immediately off the property to block the historic views. The looming superstructure of the industrial ships blocks the Repton Pool at Tolverne and deters vessels from mooring in its shadow. Confining the layups of larger vessels to the south of the Repton view will have a negligible effect on the revenue to the local authority and will allow the 1812 designed landscape to continue with minimum intrusion.

However, Tolverne is also very much at the heart of the progressive Tregothnan estate and has been a communication centre for millennia. Having already invested substantial sums in the essential infrastructure at Tolverne, the estate has begun long awaited plans to restore and protect one of Cornwall’s best treasures. Tregothnan has actively managed the Fal river reaches for many centuries. It is this continuous stewardship that has created this unique estuarine valley, often referred to as the least spoilt in the UK, an area of outstanding natural beauty, and a site of special scientific interest. Having directly operated the site since the retirement of the Newman family, Tregothnan fully understands the nature of running a business in this sensitive environment whilst also complying with all regulations. Most of the memorabilia associated with Smugglers was regarded by the previous tenant, Mr Newman, as his private property and was sold at public auction. Key pieces were indeed bought by Tregothnan at the public auction for return to Tolverne. When appropriate permissions are granted, it is hoped that a dedicated memorabilia area will house collections from the war and other eras on the river.

It is unfortunate that Smugglers has had to close for a season and Tregothnan Estate would like to thank local residents for their support and understanding. It became clear that the industrial shipping would not be moved in time for the tenants new season the decision was taken to begin essential works on site. Talks were held with local residents as well as e-news updates and information freely dispensed at the UK’s largest charity garden opening in April this year.

Please do not hesitate to contact info@tregothnan.co.uk with comments, questions or concerns about Smugglers.



Abby Keverne
Marketing Executive


What are your thoughts on this? Either comment or email us and we’ll be happy to publish them.


  • I visited Tolverne yesterday in my dinghy but unfortunately within a minute of the bow of my inflatable rib touching the shore well below the high water mark a very posh upper class voice coming from a young man told me that this was a private beach and that visitors were not welcome there and I was told in no uncertain terms to get my dog under control and to go away, which elicited a response from me which had the gentleman concerned ears ringing as I told him what he could go do with himself for being so utterly rude. To say I was absolutely disgusted with his attitude is a mild understatement as he instantly came out on the attack rather than like in days past where always a warm welcome awaited visitors to this beautiful location.

    Sadly the place has now turned into essentially a yacht and boat parking lot on the river. Gone is all of the old charm of the place, the warm and friendly welcome, the good times, a place to relax and enjoy oneself, now it’s just about money, money, money and getting as much of it as possible out of visiting yacht owners. Disgusting. Another piece of Cornish history ripped from the heart of Cornwall by Tregothan Estate.

  • Beautiful spot appreciated by many ruined by self serving grasping and arrogant estate. Dreadful reply by their spokesperson. Always love the sight of those ships moored and silent dwarfing and looming but complementing their surroundings. Shame on you Tregothnan.

  • It is with sadness that I have read all the above comments, I went to school with Peter Newman and in the 60’s enjoyed many hours at Tolverne messing about on boats etc, his mother was still alive then. Later when he and Elizabeth married, they continued to improve the Smugglers with a love and dedication so sadly missing today, I understand that their son Ross had wanted to carry on the family business on his parents retirement but Tregothnan wouldn’t have it, shame on them.
    I visited Tolverne some months ago to find it boarded up and generally a mess, from the river it looks a sorry site,as others have said, Smugglers was the jewel of the River Fal, I hope it can be again but I doubt it. One point I must correct is the scandalous assertion by a waitress that Peter Newman took all the memorabilia and sold it for a few hundred pounds because he didn’t care and was just greedy is so far from the truth to be insulting, Tregothnan people were offered all of the memorabilia but didn’t want it, surprising from a family with a long seafaring history, so what were the Newmans to do but sell it, greed and not caring is an anathema to the family, a more caring Cornishman would be hard to find.

  • I see that the plans for the site have moved on again, and (for the timebeing at least) there are no plans to operate a pub/cafe there…

    It is good, I suppose, to see that use will be made of the site, but the loss of the pub, or at the very least the cream teas in the summer is a real shame. It was always a favourite destination for all of my visitors to Cornwall.


  • My wife and I drove a very long way to visit Smugglers on a recent trip to the UK and were absolutely stunned to see that every bit of World War II memorabilia was gone. As Americans we looked forward to seeing the spot where General Eisenhower visited troops preparing for the D-Day landings. We’d read so much about the charming military memorabilia at the inn as well.
    The girl who served tea said it was all sold at auction by Mr. Newman for a few hundred pounds. She said that so many people were disappointed when they arrived to find nothing left. She added that he simply didn’t care and just wanted the money. Very sad Indeed.
    John Meiklejohn
    New York City

  • TO:

    The Hon. Evelyn Boscawen,

    Sir your reference to
    “In the meantime it is an absolute requirement of future tenants that industrial shipping is not moored immediately off the property to block the historic views.”
    How do you think the river and waterway are maintained so that “your tenants” can attract visitors to Tolvern, by collecting harbour dues etc of course. Your family doubtless earned some of its wealth [which I don’t begrudge] from Trade, shipping trade, so don’t be such a NIMBY and accept that many of the water born visitors enjoying the Fal and Truro Rivers do so in order to view the shipping.


    Mark Emerson, Mariner

  • Just back from Cornwall and went for our usual trip to Tolverne and found it closed. Have been visiting since I was a child and it was a highlight of our annual holiday. It certainly wasn’t as wonderful as when it was run by the Newman family. We all enjoyed the views if the large ships and the d-day memorabilia. I do hope it is restored to its former glory. By the way we were one of 3 cars that had to turn around at the that time so they are missing out on a large amount if trade

  • On a related point, does anyone have any information about the suspension of the Malpas ferry, and if/when it is likely to be reinstated?


  • On balance I think the Estate tried to do the right thing but got it wrong, which in fairness they did admit, and are right now to try to get the site ready for the next phase of it’s life on the Fal River.
    There is so much local interest and passion for the site I only hope who ever ends up with the responsibility ,for responsibility it surely will be, listens to the many voices that have captured above that which has made it so special for most of the 20th and the early part of the centuries.

    For my part, I just miss being able to walk there with the dogs on a Saturday morning and gaze at the stunning natural beauty that compliments the amazing history of the river and in particular King Harry Reach. In my work I am lucky to do many river trips up and down the river and miss the wonderment on the faces of the many visitors as they absorb the history and beauty of the cottage and only hope that once the various planning and site design issues are resolved the Estate will find a suitably sympathetic and locally engaged tenant who will be just as welcoming and passionate about the site as the Newman family were for 74 years.

    I feel sure that something really good will happen on the site and with lots of fantastic support from local people and business the site will once again be the brightest jewel in that which is already a heavily jeweled crown – of the Fal River in Cornwall.

    Happy days and in the mean time there is always the wonderful Tea Rooms at Halwyn http://www.halwynsteagarden.com or of course the Roseland’s very own Hidden Hut.

  • 10-8-13
    Thank you to Johan Balslev for bringing this matter up for discussion. I know many people who feel exactly the same including my family.

    I was introduced to the Smugglers by my Dad otherwise known as the ‘cider man’. (Peter always had his cider ready on the bar for him when he spotted his red kayak coming up the river.) Peter and his wife Elizabeth were the dream team and it would have been wonderful if his son Ross and his wife had been given a viable opportunity to carry on the family tradition when they retired. They would also use their knowledge to run the smugglers as a viable business. The local people really value people who understand what is important to them.

    I too wonder what the essential works were… I also wonder if Tregothen really did want to keep the memorabilia… Surely if they were serious about keeping it they would negotiated an agreement with the Newman family well before any auction situation arose.

    My daughters attend the local Kea School across the river. Last term they learnt about World War 2. Both of my grandfathers fought in that war, it was such a shame I could not take them to the smugglers and see the memorabilia. Fortunately I had taken them there in Peter’s years. However future youngsters will miss out on this important history.

    I too love the views of the ships, we continue to paddle alongside them for a better look. I wonder where the funds are coming from for the essential works…When it re-opens I hope it will not be so exclusive that I can no longer afford to take my three daughters. This is my worst fear.

    The new Tregothen policy seems to be to prioritise income by converting cottages into high rent holiday homes, and not to house Cornish families in homes that have been in their family for many many years. Not being content with taking the Smugglers away from the Cornish people, I fear Halwyn Tea Gardens across the river is next…. Will there be any amenities left on our river soon?

    I appreciate we are in a recession and the Tregothen estate needs to balance their books, however I hope they will also remember that along with privilege comes a moral obligation to consider the whole community and to be responsible stewards.

    Tregothen please listen to us.

  • The heart was ripped out of smugglers by what appears to be sheer greed which has fallen flat on its face. Peter Newman and his wife Elizabeth put their heart and soul into that place, time energy and love, which is why everyone loved it, apart from the beautiful view. Now everything has been removed it will never be the same, as someone else stated it was a jewel on the Fal and Tregothnan destroyed it.

  • The heart was ripped out of smugglers by what appears to be sheer greed which has fallen flat on its face. Peter Newman and his wife Elizabeth put their heart and soul into that place, time energy and love, which is why everyone loved it, apart from the beautiful view. Now everything has been removed it will never be the same, as someone else stated it was a jewel on the Fal and Tregothnan destroyed it.

  • To draw this discussion to a kind of conclusion for now, a clear message has been send to Thregothnan, and it is hoped that Thregothnan will take the concerns in to considerations and adjust their policy accordingly.

    Thregothnan have below listed options:

    1. To answer the concerns and specific questions raised in the debate at Roseland online.

    2. To admit they have done wrong and apologise.

    3. To tell the Roseland community that it is entirely a matter for Tregothnan only .

    But they will probably ignore, which will be the same as para. 3

  • Agree with all the above comments many happy memories of ‘special ‘meals there over the years, not the awful sausage and mash we last had under Tregothnan’s ownership!
    We went to April garden opening and saw nothing about Smuggler’s at all certainly no consultation.

  • I have loved Smugglers Cottage at Tolverne, visited may times and always took visitors there. There were some small pluses when Tregothnan took over. I liked the way they opened up the seating so that many more could have a river view, and actually the food was often very good. It was better to be able to order at the lower bar, and up country visitors did not consider it overpriced (though the shop goods were laughable!) However, the removal of memorabilia (maybe unavoidable?) the lack of lovely hanging baskets and flags to attract passing boats, and the misguided attempts at renaming (The Tea Bar sounded like a sandal) were all mistakes, and the final disappointment was taking a friend there having recommended the cream tea to be given one of those mean plastic pots and a jar of Tiptree (Essex!) jam. It looks like the new tenants have chosen another trendy name “The Landing” and I fear the worst.

  • A voice from Germany –
    One reason for people to come back to Cornwall year by year
    are their lovely memories of historic places like Tolverne and the Smugglers Cottage …
    a point Tregothnan shouldn’t forget.

  • My wife and myself have both worked at Tolverne , and I have spent many a happy evening playing music for the visitors at this magical spot. Since Tregothnan took over, I have also had to explain to disappointed visitors why they can no longer see the history of the Normandy Invasion and the part that Tolverne played in it. I find it hard to believe that anyone could have wasted such an interesting and attractive resource….shame shame shame…..

  • Thank you Johan for writing that letter to Tregothan and starting the discussion.
    The truth of the matter is Tregothan made a very unprofessional attempt at running Smugglers.
    We have both known Tolverne and the Newman family all our lives and couldn’t agree more with your comments.
    David and Andy Thomas, Philleigh.

  • I am not impressed with the response from Tregothnan.
    Tregothnan do not specify what essential work has to be done.
    They do not specify who will be the future tenant, and if they do not know, how can they then know that it is an absolute requirement that the industrial shipping is not moored immediately off the property.
    One of the charms with Tolverne was exactly that the big ships were moored near the Smugglers Cottage.
    The last sentence about negligible effect on the revenue to the local authority needs to be explained further by Tregothnan.
    What are the long awaited plans to restore and protect?
    If Tregothnan fully understand the nature of running a business in the sensitive environment of Tolverne, why did they stop and looking for a tenant? Why is Tregothnan making a point out of complying with all regulations?
    Why did Tregothnan not purchase all Newmans memorabilia for the preservation of Tolverne ?
    Have Tregothnan got the support and understanding from local residents which they are thanking for ?
    When will Tolverne reopen ?

    Johan Balslev

    • I am not very impressed with the reply either – it was almost 18 years ago when I first visited what was such a quaint, warm and extremely welcoming pub with pieces and photos of a treasured part of history on display that captivated everyone who visited there. Wonderful home made food and cakes, no one ever left there hungry for more, Stories from Peter about his family and the all the celeb & military visitors they had over the years during his time and his family before. What a history they had there ! Peter had an amazing selection of special whiskey which he brought out for those very select friends and visitors – priceless treasures in their own right !! Many times when we would take guests to Smugglers only to find it closed – a head would suddenly pop out of an upstairs window ‘ OH IT’S YOU, BE RIGHT DOWN, DOORS ARE ALWAYS OPEN TO FRIENDS ‘ ….. It is unheard of to get that kind of reception from any establishment these days ! Anyway so sadly those days are gone and none of that can ever be replaced. My memories of Smugglers I will treasure always ! And for those of you who do not know what this is really all about, this was the wonderfully famous Smugglers Cottage https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.455479207828331.104563.143554445687477&type=3

      When Smugglers changed hands, I think we all tried to keep an open mind about it. And when we were invited there for an evening meal with friends, we attended with mostly what was curious minds, wondering about the changes we would find.. Well we did find changes that is for sure, not only with the revamping of the interior ( looking now like many other establishments that had been face-lifted into the 21st century and without a doubt catering to a upper middle to upper class society of folk. The cottage atmosphere, gone. Not a hint of the history left. Staff who knew nothing about it’s history, or probably cared about it No more what I would call proper food of a generous portion. Smugglers was gone, only the shell of the premises remained. Even Ross’s lovely boat trips was eventually ‘moved’ on to another location !

      I remember watching the news one day shortly after the change, they were interviewing several visitors at Smugglers. One lady said how much of an eye sore the ships in the river were – I see that they are also mentioned in the official reply. I don’t think they were an eye sore at all, it is all part of what we are and what our community offers and I do know that the ships also attracted many people – the ships were all part of those views !

      Yes, Smugglers has new owners, they made their changes according to what they believed people want ( hum, I think they should have taken a survey ! ) and there has been a slow trail of emotional and physical destruction since.

      Let us see what the future holds for this what IS a Cornish Treasure ?!

  • As a long ago member of the Newman’s staff at Tolverne I am so sad about the “Tregothnan takeover”. It was one of the most unique, friendly and personal places on the Roseland and maybe beyond. All the heart, soul and wealth of information regarding the vital part Tolverne played in history has been lost…….for what? An over priced bog standard eaterie playing at being something it will never attain to. Just awful.

  • Owners of historic & beautiful properties such as Tolverne have a resposibility to future generations to maintain & preserve them. If they are to have a commercial use then consideration should be given to keeping a balance between aesthetic & heritage aspects & any modifications necessary for the generation of revenue. It would appear that greed or maybe just indifference has overidden such considerations in this case.

  • Tregothnan took away all that was good about Smugglers, turning it into a big business rather than the Cornish gem that it was. And the staff couldnt have cared less!

  • couldn’t agree more – sad enough that we lost such an historic collection of memorabilia unique to the Roseland, but now have another iconic Roseland treasure left to rot just like the Pink Hotel at Pendower, both were much loved and successfully run business for many years, serving locals and visitors alike but goes to demonstrate that a vision based on vanity and greed ,results in abject failure to sustain.

  • I totaly agree with above letter. I have spent so many happy hours at Tolverne through the years and to see it now is a crying shame.

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