The Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society (known affectionately as The Poly) has been encouraging innovation and culture for over 175 years.
The original Society was founded by two daughters of the Falmouth based Fox family in 1833. It drew together people who were keen to see development and economic growth in Cornwall through eliciting the inventive powers of the young through advancement of the useful arts.
The Society received Royal Patronage from King William IV in 1835, the year in which its Centre now known as the ePolyf at 24 Church Street was built. The Society successfully encouraged innovation through financial awards, medals and exhibitions. It played a key role in the development of numerous important inventions including pneumatic drills, the Cornish Man Engine, microscopes and uses of nitro]glycerine.
The Society’s 1843 exhibition featured an early and influential demonstration of the new art of photography. The RCPS soon grew, both in size and reputation, becoming a key player in the Industrial Revolution in Cornwall. New outposts opened throughout the County, with members including prominent scientists, engineers and artists. The Societyfs annual report was an important journal of its day. The Society attracted some significant demonstrations. These included Alfred Nobel who demonstrated nitroglycerine for the first time anywhere in the world at our exhibition in 1865, earning the Society a mention on the Nobel Prize website.
The charity own the Poly building, an old but much loved space steeped in history and character and ideal for theatre shows, films, lectures. There are rooms to hire for exhibitions, clubs, conferences, workshops and more. The charity also holds a significant collection of paintings by Henry Scott Tuke and a wonderful resource of historic photographs. The history archive needs to be relocated within the building to ensure its longevity and make it more accessible as a resource to the public, a major project we face.
A new Board of Trustees was elected at the recent AGM. Filled with fresh drive and enthusiasm our 15 new Board members have rolled up their shirt sleeves and are committed to putting in place a strategy to deal with the difficult finances, restore the use of the building as an arts and scientific hub in the heart of Falmouth, and involve the community in its vision for the future. Itfs a tough challenge, but the Poly and all it stands for is well worth fighting for. Your involvement by becoming a member and volunteering your help is vital as we strive to carry the best of our past into a new and exciting future to benefit our community.