Friday 11 October 2019

Old Vintage Photos of Charlestown, Cornwall

Old photo of Charlestown harbour, Cornwall

I have mentioned in previous posts how little Charlestown in Cornwall has changed over the years. To confirm this I have dug out a few old photos, like the one above.

The old Dock, as the picture is described, remains virtually as it was in Georgian times. I snapped the photo below a couple of weeks back to show the likeness.

How Charlestown, Cornwall looks today in black and white.

In 1790 this was a small fishing village known as Porthmear, just nine fishermen and their families were resident. Charles Rashleigh though, saw other possibilities

Copper, and later china clay, needed to be exported from the local area so he decided to build a harbour, with the help of a few friends including John Smeaton, well known for constructing lighthouses and harbours.

he harbour and port were constructed between 1791 and 1801. 

Eventually, under Rashleigh's guidance, a village was also developed around the harbour. The name was changed from Porthmear to Charlestown in honour of Rashleigh. There is also now a pub and hotel called the Rashleigh Arms, owned by St.Austell Brewery.

Photo of Charlestown in 1900

Business boomed 40,000 tones of copper ore were exported between 1810 and 1813.

The photo above (1900) and below (1880) show how the port was once filled with sailing ships ready for transporting goods.

Sailing ships in 1880 in Charlestown Harbour, Cornwall

Unfortunately the harbour finally became too small for modern shipping and the last load of china clay left the dock in 2000.

The gate at Charlestown Harbour, Cornwall

The dock (or port) is separated from the main harbour by a gate, first constructed in 1799, as shown in the photo above. This means there are often differing levels of water between the dock and the harbour, depending on the tide.

The dock behind the gate is topped up with water via a seven mile leat running from Luxulyan Valley to Charlestown. This is still in operation today.

The harbour gates are only opened at, or around, high tide.

Kajsamoor tall ship in Charlestown, Cornwall

Today Charlestown is very much a tourist destination and is popular during the summer season. It's fame has spread because the harbour has been used for filming the likes of the very popular Poldark television series and for various movies.

The tall ship in the photo above is the Kajsamoor used in Poldark and can usually be found moored at Charlestown. 

See also:
A Stroll Around Poldark's Charlestown Harbour, Cornwall - 12 Photos 


  1. Lovely old photo's, it must have been a hard life sailing on these boats but, viewed from afar, one has a romantic idea of how it might have been. Your photo's fit in really well, you've caught the atmosphere very well. Super post. 😊

  2. 3ed photo is not 1900 it's post 1907

  3. 4th photo is 1928

  4. In Georgian times the dock was considerably shorter, Charles Rashleigh never saw the dock that we see today.




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