The coastal sea-town of Looe can be found in the South-East of Cornwall and is divided by the River Looe into East and West Looe. Although connected by a bridge, Looe eventually developed as two completely separated towns with their own members of parliament and mayors. The first recorded mention of the two boroughs came from a charter granted by King Henry II giving his favour to Sir Henry Bodrugan as the Mayor of East Looe.
Looe has a rich history that can be traced back as early as 1000 BC, with archaeological excavations uncovering an ancient hill and the aptly-named ‘Giant’s Hedge’ which is a seven-mile route that follows an ancient boundary wall very popular with tourists today. The houses constructed in ancient Looe were designed to minimise losses against frequent, severe flooding which is still common today, the houses were constructed with the living quarters upstairs and storage for boats and fishing equipment at the lower level – these are nick-named ‘fishermen’s cellars’.
Ancient Looe thrived as a busy port and was a key player in the fishing and boatbuilding industries, with the textile industry even playing a key role in the town’s history due to its trade and transport links. However, the history is not all good, with pirates ravaging the town in 1625 and kidnapping and enslaving over eighty fisherman – most of the inhabitants were able to escape, however the whole town was torched in flames. As the Victorian era came, so did the penchant for seaside holidays, which helped to elevate Looe as a tourist town leading to multiple hotels and tourist attractions and facilities being built. As travel became more available to the masses, tourism grew, and this effect created in the Victorian era still resonates with modern day Looe now.
Modern Day Looe
Looe has remained a fishing town through to today, with several fleets of fishing boats leaving the port daily and coming back with catch that has a reputation for being particularly fresh and tasty. Whilst fishing obviously plays a key part in the town, Looe relies on its main source of income coming from tourism, with pubs, restaurants and ships taking over the majority of the town. There are multiple attractions in and around Looe, including; the Woolly Monkey Sanctuary, luxurious beaches, water activities, and numerous coastal walks.
Looe and the New Year
Surprisingly, this small seaside town has actually been named as the one of the top 10 places to ring in the New Year in the UK and was even ranked third on the list in the years 2007-2008. This is due to the fact that there is a long-standing tradition, which the inhabitants started, of dressing up in fancy dress and taking to the streets to revel and party together. This tradition has grown over the years as tourists flock to the town to take part, the crowds start the celebrations in the centre of the town and throughout the evening make their way over to the seafront for the scheduled fireworks display which is timed to ring in the New Year.