The Cornwall Polytechnic Society (the Poly) was founded in 1833, the inspiration of Anna Maria and Caroline, the teenage daughters of Robert Were Fox of G.C. Fox & Co, a prominent Falmouth firm of shipping agents. The firm was also joint owner of the Perran Foundry, whose workmen constantly brought models and inventions for inspection, and new ideas for improving the working of the foundry. With their father’s encouragement, a Society was formed ‘To promote the useful and fine arts, to encourage industry, and to elicit the ingenuity of a community distinguished for its mechanical skill’.

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