RepositoryUniversity of Exeter Penryn Campus (GB 3242)
Ref NoICS13
Extent13 boxes and O/S items/4.8 linear metres
DescriptionThis Collection includes Leonard Truran's political papers and records relating to his roles in Mebyon Kernow (MK) and interest in Cornish issues, along with some relating to his publishing house Dyllansow Truran. The majority of this Collection comprises date specific files ranging from 1964-1980 corresponding with his heaviest involvement in MK. However, the Collection also includes materials ranging from 1955-1994, with some subjects collected in their own files as per Truran's system.

Particular highlights include:

- Records relating to proposals for the stamp for Cornwall including drafts, mock ups, correspondence and news coverage.

- News cuttings and correspondences relating to Gorseth Kernow and the rejuvenation of the Cornish language.

- Scrapbook 1960-64 including articles relating to railway branch line closures and appeals for a County University.

- File entitled 'Cowethas Flamank' of newspaper articles and correspondence relating to the group c1971-1981.

- Correspondence between members, newspapers, MPs, and other Celtic groups covering matters including County boundary changes, membership of MK, The Liberal Party's intentions towards Cornwall, Overspill, denial of party racialism, memorial plaques, nuclear power, the Cornish Gazeteer, The Cornish Assembly and general communication between members.

- Correspondence addressed to R.A. Dunstone (MK Chairman 1960-68) including topics such as MK membership, Camborne School of Mines moving to Plymouth, quality of Cornish pasties, MK Necktie design, support for a Cornish University, skin diving for crawfish, the Cornish stamp, saving the railways, etc.

- News cuttings relating to: EEC Referendum (1975), Plymouth's proposal to alter Cornwall's boundary (c1971-74), the Stannary Parliament, flying the St Piran's flag, bilingual passports for Cornish people, allocation of Cornish postal codes, bilingual road signs including new Kernow border signs, devolution, protests against nuclear waste, job creation schemes, proposed MK policies and election candidates, an article denouncing tourism as Cornwall's future, Cedric Wicks and the founding of the Cornish Assembly, the sale of council houses, formation of Camborne-Redruth MK branch (1965), MK attacking entry into the common market, opposition to Concorde (1969-74), Overspill from London to Cornwall (1974), Cornwall County Council's plans to stop funding the Institute of Cornish studies (1974), the Tin mining industry, MK calling for closure of military bases, SDP and Liberal alliance, 'Let's talk Cornish' lessons, Cornish nurses and teachers unable to get work in the county, MK membership, St Austell courthouse bombing, allegations of 'Trotskyist' infiltration within MK and subsequent resignation of Leonard Truran, Cornish Nationalist Claims by An Gof, and the translation of gospels into Cornish.

- Newsletters, including Kevren (of Cowethas Flamank) 1972-82, Forward: The Bulletin of the Illogan and District Group of Mebyon Kernow 1975-76, Cornish News 1977, The Cornish Socialist Party newsletter 1977, An Weryn A radical magazine for Cornwall 1980-83 (plus a 'Tributaries' special edition), Celtic News 1966, Omma here (of the Celtic language league) 1971, Cornish Nation (by MK) 1969, CARN A link between the Celtic Nations 1973 74-75 79, The Cornwall Courier 1976, Cornish Assembly 1982.

- Minutes of meetings at various levels including MK Branch meetings (65, 68, 69, 79 including inaugural Camborne-Redruth branch), MK AGM (66 and 78), MK Annual Conference (77), MK Executive Committee (66, 78, 93) as well as District Council (73), The Cornish Assembly (June-Aug 72) and SDP Steering Group (May 81).

- Materials relating to running for General Election in 1979; posters, propaganda, election materials and results.

- Len Truran resignation letter from MK, unsigned. 20th May 1980.

- MK Manifesto 1989 'The Cornish Answer'.

- Draft manuscripts related to Dyllansow Truran (some annotated), including 'Submarines on the Fal: Submarines & Mining Operations in the Falmouth Area' by Jeffrey Rumble, 'Late Cornish, an accurate reconstruction of the sound s system' by Seamus O Coileain, and 'The Controversial Solensos' by A.L. Rowse.
Admin HistoryLeonard Truran (1926-1997) head teacher, political activist, publisher, and Cornish bard, was born in Redruth, Cornwall. He was educated at Redruth Grammar School where he stayed on into the 6th form until his father insisted it was time he earn a living. Truran briefly took employment in the offices of Climax Rock Drill & Engineering near Camborne, Cornwall before completing National Service in the Royal Navy and eventually deciding to follow the rest of his family into teaching. In the 1940s he trained to be a teacher at King Alfred's College, Winchester, which was then based in Carmarthen because the Winchester site was being used by the army. Truran would undertake his first teaching post at Martock in Somerset.

By 1948 he had relocated to live and teach in Penryn, Cornwall where he would spend the rest of his life along with his wife Florence Joan Martin. From c1966 Truran spent his last fifteen years in the profession as a member of the Education Committee's unattached staff as a peripatetic Head Teacher, taking charge of some twenty to twenty-five schools in emergencies and between appointments. His headships included Penpol School, Hayle and St Mabyn C. of E. School. His last appointment, in the Spring and Summer terms of 1981, was to Treloweth Primary School at Broad Lane, Illogan from where he took early retirement.

Leonard Truran was brother to Lambert Truran, a founder member of Mebyon Kernow (MK) 'The party for Cornwall' . The party was formed in 1951 to raise contemporary Cornish issues in a time of renewed public interest in the nationalist cause, and to counter the prevalent centralism, metropolitanism, and perceived threats to the Cornish identity in English politics of the time. Despite his sister's assertion that he was 'always a political animal', Truran hesitated to join the new movement until he was convinced that it had the potential to serve Cornwall, perhaps feeling that until the early or mid-1960s it lacked the drive and energy necessary to make an impact on the Cornish scene.

After joining MK in 1964 aged 37, Truran went on to serve as both National Secretary (1967-1968 and 1973-1980) and Chairman (1968-1973) during the organisation's period of greatest growth. Virtually all his leisure time from 1967 was spent on MK work; along with serving as National Secretary and Chairman he also acted as press officer, badge secretary, membership secretary, and assisted the treasurer. Many of those who knew or worked with him, both within and outside Mebyon Kernow, described Truran as single-minded, driven, and possessing inexhaustible energy. During this time he promoted a well-organised sales operation for MK including proposals for a stamp for Cornwall, calendars, car stickers and flags, as well as publishing several essays concerning Cornish nationalism. In 1974 he raised over £1000 through the sales dept. through membership drives and other initiatives. He was convinced that such devotion to the small details would result one day in a strong, united and forward-looking party.

On 3 May 1979, Truran stood for Mebyon Kernow in the General Election for Falmouth-Camborne and gained what was described by the BBC as 'a worthwhile result' (Following 'An Gof': Leonard Truran, Cornish Activist and Publisher. Derek R. Williams.), polling 1,637 votes (3.04%). Although activists were disappointed that it was not higher, this and other MK results that year compared favourably to other Nationalist parties such as Plaid Cymru in Wales and the Scottish Nationalist Party.

Although supportive of Welsh and Scottish nationalism Truran condemned IRA violence stating that MK needed to protect the Cornish cause by seeing that it was "not tainted with violence or extremism" (ibid.) and instead advocated a moderate and reasonable agitation for reform. He left the party in 1980 feeling that MK was being unrepresentatively influenced by a surge of radical left wing activists who no longer shared his moderate views. Although he re-joined the party in 1990 (following a 'brief flirtation' with the Social Democratic Party (Mebyon Kernow & Cornish Nationalism. Bernard Deacon, Dick Cole and Garry Tregidga.) through the 1980s and 1990s Truran channelled most of his boundless energy into less overtly political projects.

Having joined the Pan-Celtic cultural movement in the mid to late 1960s Truran was made a Cornish bard of Gorsedh Kernow (The Cornish Gorsedd) in 1980 for services to the Celtic Congress which he considered to be the greatest possible honour in Cornish life. His bard name was Holyer an Gof, (Follower of 'An Gof') with this particular 'An Gof' (Cornish for blacksmith) referring to Michael Joseph from St Keverne, a leader in the Cornish Rebellion of 1497.

In 1981 Truran founded his own publishing business with his wife Joan in order to remedy what he saw as a lack of Cornish books of cultural value. He used the name Dyllansow Truran (Truran Publications) first in 1977 to publish their daughter's Cornish names for Cornish Homes. A lifelong advocate for the Cornish language, in his last interview he explained "Many, many people have asked me its meaning, and immediately they are asking questions which are good for Cornwall" (Following 'An Gof': Leonard Truran, Cornish Activist and Publisher. Derek R. Williams.). As publisher and distributor Dyllansow Truran enabled some 270 authors on Cornish or Celtic subjects to reach audiences regionally, nationally and internationally, including An Gurun Wosek A Gelyta (The Bloody Crown of Celtia) - the first full length novel in Cornish.

In 1996 The Holyer an Gof awards were established in his honour by members of Gorsedh Kernow to continue his legacy by raising the standard and profile of books published about Cornwall or in Cornish.

It is clear that Truran had hoped to continue publishing, with several titles in the pipeline when in late 1995 Cornwall Today reported that he was sick, and eighteen months later he died of Parkinson's disease in a nursing home in St Day. He was survived by his wife Joan and children Christine and Mary who were joined by representatives from a host of organisations, including Mebyon Kernow, the Celtic Congress and Gorsedh Kernow at his funeral at St John's Catholic Church, Camborne in 1997.


Following 'An Gof': Leonard Truran, Cornish Activist and Publisher. Derek R. Williams. The Cornovia Press 2014
Mebyon Kernow & Cornish Nationalism. Bernard Deacon, Dick Cole and Garry Tregidga. Welsh Academic Press 2003
Gorseth Kernow The first 50 years. Den Toll (Hugh Miners) 1978. Gorseth Kernow.
LanguageEnglish, with some records in Cornish language
Access StatusOpen
Related MaterialA number of other Institute of Cornish Studies collections provide further materials relating to Cornish politics at this time.
- ICS10 The Institute of Cornish Studies Election Project
- ICS6 Papers of Adrian Lee
- ICS8 Papers of Royston Green
- ICS11 Papers of Mary Mann: Falmouth - Camborne Liberal Association
Access ConditionsOpen except for those records except for those containing personal information covered by Data Protection legislation.
ArrangementMost materials are arranged in files by date from 1964-1980 as per Truran's system of management.
Finding_AidsFull box lists available.
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