How Poldark helps us to care for special places
Now in its second series, the BBC adaptation of Poldark has proved to be a big hit on the small screen. Set in 18th-century Cornwall, the sweeping saga explores family, love, ambition and jealousy, all set against a dramatic backdrop of moors and coastal clifftops.
These locations are an integral part of the story, and several of our places made the perfect on-screen stand-ins for author Winston Graham’s fictional landscapes.
Poldark’s location manager David Johnson said: ‘I think it’s incredibly important for us to be shooting in these locations, some which were even mentioned in the original books. I think it adds to the authenticity of the series: if people believe they’re in the right place then the story feels more real.’
As well as giving audiences the opportunity to discover these beautiful places, Poldark has also given us valuable help in looking after them. Money raised from location fees has been put back into caring for the properties and helping to continue vital conservation work, improving the experience for visitors.
At Levant Mine and Beam Engine the team are now able to offer experiences which really bring the history of the mine to life. Families can try their hand at the breaking and sorting rocks: tough work which was undertaken by women and girls as young as eight.
Nearby, at Botallack, the location fees have helped to support the refurbishment of the Count House Workshop. As well as a stop-off for light refreshments the Workshop allows visitors to discover more about the how the area's mining history inspired Winston Graham when he was writing the books.
Ian Marsh, General Manager for West Cornwall said: ‘The series has had a direct benefit, in that the location fees go back into conservation work to look after these places. There’s also an increased interest and commitment to caring for these locations.’
‘I think the story is all-important. People tend to think of these places in terms of the machinery and how things work, but what Poldark’s done for us is enable people to connect human stories with the landscape and its industrial past.’
As well as taking starring turns in the T.V. series, our places were also important to Winston Graham when he wrote the original novels. Francis Poldark’s estate at Trenwith was inspired by Trerice, while Gurnard’s Head near Land’s End was spoken of in the books as a particularly treacherous headland.
‘In many ways it would have been completely impossible to film Poldark without the National Trust.’ said Andrew Graham, son of Winston. ‘If the Trust didn’t exist there wouldn’t be these extraordinary places to which we could come, and I know that my father felt very deeply about that.’