“Tubestation is a seed. It’s an idea, planted on the earth to bring forth fruit. The idea is not new. It is very, very old. But it was uncovered in 2006, in Polzeath on the North Cornwall shore. At first glance it seemed to be something about connecting a love of surfing and the power and beauty of the ocean waves with something a whole lot deeper, something wild …”
As the story goes …. it was January of 1884, after a religious revival at Tredrizzick, when weekly gatherings were started in Polzeath’s village centre in a house connected with the local tin and lead mines. The group grew and in 1898 a farmer’s field by the beach was secured and a purpose built hut went up. This would become known as ‘The old tin tabernacle” and housed the meetings for the next three decades until, in 1932, it was replaced by a larger building, the “Methodist School Hall” … the building which is now known as the Tubestation.
An extract from the 1933 opening ceremony brochure reads, “What of the days that are yet to be, here in this lovely corner of England? That the future is eloquent with the promise of good all are agreed. Service, like every other good quality of human nature, is its own reward, and with expanding activities there will be full scope for all who are eager to see the coming of the kingdom of heaven on earth.”
For the next seventy years the building served Polzeath’s community and visitors, but by the end of the twentieth century its use had dropped off, its future looked uncertain, and rumours of its eventual demise looked more and more likely. However, in 2002 a handful of courageous local folk saw the potential to do something far more exciting…
A few years later, in October 2006, Tubestation was born. Taking a look at the needs of the community, and with a love of surf culture and creative arts, the site began to be developed to meet as many needs as possible, as creatively as possible.
Ten years on and with tens of thousands of people through its doors every year, Tubestation the registered charity continues to seek innovative ways to serve more people better.
Like anything organic, there is the chance that Tubestation will grow until it finds a natural balance point within its environment. The environment of coastal Cornwall offers us some amazing opportunities as community-minded surfers.
As we occupy an old Methodist chapel in Polzeath, we are mindful of how the Methodist movement in the 1800’s galvanised rural and coastal communities to come together and build together. Part of the legacy of this radical grass roots movement is the hundreds of little chapels that are part of every town and village in Cornwall. Public buildings designed for community, but increasingly difficult to maintain, and increasingly these old chapels are sold off to become yet more second homes for wealthy developers, lost to the people forever. And worse still, where there is no vision on a local level the money from the sale of these buildings is returned into a central pot and used to prop up the larger town and city churches. So rural and coastal communities lose out in every way.
We have seen with the example of Polzeath that there may be another way, a brighter future where nobody loses and everybody wins. Where we honour the radical roots of these places by rescuing them and giving them back to serve their intended purpose for the generation to come. And in doing so, that whole communities might be changed from the inside. To feel we could be taking part in a grass roots movement of surfers, artists and activists around the coast of Cornwall to put the unity back in community, we would be stoked beyond belief.
That’s the dream, anyway.