Life in the village which lies at the exact centre of Cornwall

There is a village by the A30 that most of us have driven through or past but maybe never given a second thought.

Lanivet, a few miles from Bodmin, used to be a quiet hamlet far from the county’s main traffic. But, now, it is key for hundreds of motorists every day.

People from Bodmin, Lostwithiel, St Austell, Wadebridge, Newquay use its main road, called Truro Road.

And whenever the A30 is blocked or the Royal Cornwall Show is on, traffic through the village comes to a standstill.

Lanivet’s claim to fame is that it is actually the geographical centre of Cornwall and lies “in the middle of the county, north, south, east and west”.

The exact centre is said to be marked by a medieval cross in the graveyard of the parish church.

It is also right in the middle of the old Saints’ Way, a 27-mile footpath that cuts across the county from Padstow to Fowey.

“I always joke that Lanivet has nothing to do with Bodmin and that it is the centre of Cornwall,” said Andrew Bale, who works at the popular Welcome Stranger fish and chip shop.

A medieval cross in the churchyard is there to mark Lanivet as the centre of Cornwall
(Image: Greg Martin / Cornwall Live)

“It doesn’t seem like it. When I first heard about it, I thought it was too much to the north.”

Andrew’s parents, Carol and Lester, own the restaurant. The family has been in the village for 12 years.

Andrew said people from all over Cornwall come to Lanivet.

And, unlike many villages and towns across the country which are losing their shops and pubs, it is still attractive to many businesses.

(Image: Greg Martin / Cornwall Live)

“We have a lot of businesses for a village – the post office, the Spar shop, the pub, the chip shop, the hair salon, etc,” he said. “It is growing more and more and it’s such a nice place.”

Christine Claxton runs the Spar shop on Truro Road.

She thinks the location and the size of the village are the main reasons it has retained so many local businesses.

(Image: Greg Martin / Cornwall Live)

“It’s quite a big place,” she said. “There are a lot of cars going through the village, a lot of people coming from Bodmin and Bugle.”

The post office is also popular with Bodmin, Lostwithiel and Wadebridge residents.

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During the lockdown, Christine organised deliveries for the community.

“It’s nice to be able to serve the community,” she said.

Christine Claxton runs the Spar shop in Lanivet, where there was originally a supply stores
Christine Claxton runs the Spar shop in Lanivet, where there was originally a supply stores
(Image: Greg Martin / Cornwall Live)

And, according to the residents we have spoken to, the community is very important in the village.

Carol Miller, who has lived in the village for nearly 18 years, said: “The community spirit has grown since I moved in. It’s a wonderful place to be, there’s a lot going on. The village is very connected. It’s very caring.”

A community centre was built in the village three years ago, offering dozens of activities for all.

(Image: Greg Martin / Cornwall Live)

The other important hub for the villagers is the local pub, the Lanivet Inn.

“The pub has managed to survive the lockdown,” Carol said. “They are so friendly it is unbelievable.”

One of the most striking things about the Lanivet Inn is a large sign of a panda in a bamboo grove proudly displayed outside.

And, after a closer look around the village, we noticed pandas were a recurring theme.

The Lanivet Inn is also known as The Panda to locals
(Image: Greg Martin / Cornwall Live)

Reece Adams, manager of the Inn, explained that the panda sign was adopted just before the Second World War.

“During World War Two the village grew bamboo to send it London Zoo to keep the pandas alive,” he said. “The school recently changed their logo to a panda as well. It’s become a big thing in the village.”

Some of Lanivet’s bamboo
(Image: Greg Martin / Cornwall Live)

A sign inside the pub reads: “The present sign which features a panda in a bamboo grove was adopted just before the Second World War, when London Zoo housed its first panda ‘Jennie’ in 1937.

“A commercial bamboo grove existed opposite St Benets, and the local scouts cut fresh shoots daily to send to the zoo.

“This task was later adopted by Polkerris Scout Troop who cut bamboo shoots at Menabilly near Fowey.”

Cornwall Live