24 Church St Falmouth, Cornwall TR11 3EG
The Cornwall Polytechnic Society (the Poly) was founded in 1833, the inspiration of Anna Maria and Caroline, the teenage daughters of Robert Were Fox of G.C. Fox & Co, a prominent Falmouth firm of shipping agents. The firm was also joint owner of the Perran Foundry, whose workmen constantly brought models and inventions for inspection, and new ideas for improving the working of the foundry. With their father’s encouragement, a Society was formed ‘To promote the useful and fine arts, to encourage industry, and to elicit the ingenuity of a community distinguished for its mechanical skill’.
The Society was certainly founded on philanthropic principles, but President Sir Charles Lemon, seven prominent Cornish Vice Presidents, and Chairman Charles Fox, were all successful businessmen, for whom whatever ‘encouraged industry’ should also be good for business. With this in view, the founders determined that a large Hall should be erected by the Society to accommodate an annual exhibition of new inventions, especially mechanical ones, in an era when science was continually revealing new wonders to the world.
For the first two years, exhibitions were held in the Falmouth Classical School, which proved so popular, and were so overcrowded, that the Committee decided that the new Hall and permanent home for the Society should be built as soon as possible.
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