Deserted Truro – 5th May 2020
It is particularly eerie walking through deserted streets in the middle of the day. The shops are shut, windows are dark, car parks empty (which we can all agree is unheard of in Cornwall on a sunny day!). Our Operations Officer, James Kenny, took some photos of deserted Truro as part of his journey to perform vital security checks at the Museum, just as lockdown began at the end of March:
Deserted River Street as viewed from the entrance of the Royal Cornwall Museum. On a normal day we would see pedestrians going about their daily business. At the start of lockdown, there were but a few making their final trips to Truro before working from home. © Royal Institution Cornwall, 2020.
Deserted A390 outside the County Arms at morning rush hour, 23rd March 2020. © Royal Institution Cornwall, 2020.
There’s a sort of stillness to this change. Though it may seem very unnatural to us to see our main roads so quiet at 8.30am, it is quite beautiful and a rare opportunity to see these places so peaceful during daylight hours.
Deserted Pydar Street, March 23rd 2020. A beautiful sunny day in Truro, but shops are closed and no shoppers to be seen. © Royal Institution Cornwall, 2020.
Deserted Victoria Square. The square is usually packed with people eating pasties and sandwiches, people waiting for the bus, cars and vans unloading and pedestrians and vehicles making their way through town. March 23rd, 2020. © Royal Institution Cornwall, 2020.
We’re becoming used to the emptiness of our roads and towns. In just a few short weeks, despite that we would normally see thousands of tourists this time of year – and despite the mounting worries about the effects this will have on Cornwall long-term – we have become desensitised to this deserted urban landscape.
This is not to be taken negatively. In the process of staying at home, we can see the resurgence of nature – it has been enthusiastically rejoining those places lost to humanity. We’ve seen and heard about goats in Wales, boars in Rome, badgers in train stations. At my home we’ve had ducks in the river and hundreds of bees and butterflies in the gardens.
“Lovely to have all the Spring flowers on the walk – primroses, celandines, black-thorn blossom, besides all the gardens: Soon after I left home I passed a place on the Beechwood estate where a hedge of berberis next to another of forsythia were so gaudy you could hardly bear to look at them! – and some of the smaller trees coming into leaf too – hurray!”
“It is perhaps a positive that the volume of traffic is much reduced and, with the holiday season effectively postponed, the pollution level may remain relatively low?”
T. Burt, Truro
In Cornwall, the change in population numbers during peak season is staggering. Tourism is enormously important for the county; many of us are hoping that we can welcome visitors back soon, but, rather than seeing this absence as a negative, many are using this time as a reprieve and opportunity to take stock. We can appreciate the quiet in our beautiful places, where we would normally see lots of people coming to enjoy what we are so lucky to have on our doorstep.
Tell us about your experiences of stillness in your local area, or how nature has bloomed while the humans are at home. Email [email protected] or go to www.royalcornwallmuseum.org.uk/covid-19-collection for more information.
With thanks to COVID-19 Cornwall Collection contributors: A. T. Burt and A. Rowell