I moved to live in Penzance, Cornwall, in 1985/1986 whilst working in the catering industry, at this time the nearest place for the annual Eid celebration was in Exeter, which was followed years later by the PIETY centre in Plymouth. The Muslim community in Cornwall was still small at the time, but growing year on year.
In 1992 I discovered that there were Muslim doctors working in the Treliske Hospital in Truro, Cornwall. We applied to the Truro Boys Club in order to use one of the rooms for the weekly Friday prayers, but this was refused.
On the 15 November 1993 a meeting was called for the restaurant owners of Cornwall, both Muslim and non Muslim, who formed the Cornwall Islamic Trust. The Doctors arranged for a room for weekly Friday prayers with the Cornwall Health Trust. However, this room was only big enough for about ten people, and the arrangement only lasted a few years.
During this time and a few years following, village halls were hired to hold the major gatherings and celebrations after Ramadan for Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Adha.
In 1999 the Cornwall Islamic Trust purchased a residential property with locally raised funds on Tresawls Road, near Treliske Hospital, Truro, weekly Friday gatherings along with a Sunday school were held here but planning permission for development of the property was turned down.
Due to the limited space the Cornwall Islamic Trust actively continued to seek another, more suitable, premises. Then 9/11 happened and the Muslim world became the focus of the media spotlight. The property at Tresawles Road was sold to raise funds, but every property that the trust looked into became a newsworthy event, with a predictable response.
For the two years following, Truro College provided a space for the weekly Friday prayers, at no charge, for which we will be eternally grateful.
By this time the Muslim community had grown greatly and a larger place was needed again. The Quakers chapel in Truro was hired to hold the weekly Friday prayers but the two major annual gatherings collided with school holidays, activity groups and other Christian festivals, our Christian brothers in Truro provided their halls for us to use, for which we are grateful.
Early in 2007 three former Methodist Chapels came on the market with planning permission for development, one of which was Quenchwell Chapel which was acquired on 28th April 2008. From then until the first Friday prayers held on the 3rd July 2009 it was a roller coaster ride.
All of this has only been possible with the help and blessings of Allah (SWT). May Allah accept all of our efforts.
Tipu Sultan Choudhury