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New centre to mark life of Sir Humphry?

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: September 26, 2013

  • Peasgoods Penzance. Penny Young (right) and Dawn Walker who are hoping to turn the shop into the Sir Humphry Davy museum. PZPM20130924D-002_C.JPG

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THE life and work of the best-known son of Penzance could be celebrated in the very same shop where he trained to become an apothecary surgeon.

A group of local people have unveiled ambitious plans to create an exhibition space, shop and café dedicated to Sir Humphry Davy in the historic Peasgoods Pharmacy, right opposite his statue looking down Penzance's Market Jew Street.

The pharmacy operated continually as a chemist from the 1700s until its closure in June 2011.

Best known as the inventor of the miners' safety lamp, Davy was also this week hailed as 'probably a genius' by Professor Brian Cox in his new TV series Science Britannica (see full story on page 7).

The Humphry Davy Project group received the initial backing of the town council at its meeting on Monday and hopes to start applying for funding before the end of the year.

Penny Young, who started the group with Dawn Walker, said she had been in talks with the owner of the Peasgoods' site in Market Jew Street about the possibility of taking out a long lease.

"We would like this to be a centre with links into local schools and community groups, as well as having plenty to appeal to tourists and we hope it will be there for a long time," she said.

"He is such an important figure for the town and there is so much material which we could put on display, yet apart from the statue and a little notice in the shop, there's not much to celebrate him in Penzance.

"There are any number of different avenues to his life which we could explore – for example, he wasn't just a brilliant scientist, he was also a poet with links to the Romantic Poets' movement."

In the four-storey building, the group has plans to create interactive areas where visitors can replicate Davy's experiments and they hope that other organisations will assist in loaning exhibits.

There are also hopes to reintroduce a Humphry Davy Day to the town – a custom not held in Penzance for many years – as well as organising other events such as guided walks and lectures.

As it prepares to start applying for funding, the group is also seeking the backing of the local community to demonstrate the viability of the scheme.

To support the Humphry Davy Project, write to Penny Young at 7, Regent Square, Penzance, TR18 4BG or e-mail penelope.young@btinternet.com

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