Friday 9 July 2021

Charlestown Harbour and Copper Ore From 200 Years Ago

Okay, I know I have published several posts on Charlestown but, for this one, I've dug out some different photos - with the help of Sammy Seagull. We lingered on the back harbour wall for quite a while discussing life in general.

There were a few hardy souls on the beach in the background.

Just below us, built into the harbour wall, is a memorial which most visitors miss

It states: In memory of Thomas Penhall for 45 years the conscientious and devoted servant of the proprietors of Charlestown who died 24th April 1867

Looks like someone has been about with pots of paint to brighten up some of the old, unused machinery on the harbourside. The example below previously had arms to lift small boats in or out of the harbour.

I remember when I first moved to the area two men, I met through my work, persuaded me to go mackerel fishing with them. They lowered their small boat into the water and out we went into what I considered to be a very choppy sea.

After a while I felt quite seasick - and was, much to my embarrassment. We didn't catch any fish! Strange in a way as I love the sea. Nowadays though, I no longer eat fish or meat.

The remnants of a wagon and lines have recently been plonked near to the harbour as an exhibit. I guess there will be more to follow.

Now, the next photo may not seem too special but the cobbles that make up the yard are over 200 years old and were there for a reason - local Cornish copper.

'Bal maidens' and children would crush and sort the ore. Once cleaned the ore would be taken to this 'ore floor' by horse and cart where it would be divided into 100 ton piles to be sampled by an assayer. He would determine the copper content.

Smelting companies were then able to bid for the ore. Successful bidders would charter ships to call at Charlestown to load the ore. This would then be transported to smelters in South Wales, where they had plenty of coal. At the time it took four tons of coal to smelt one ton of copper ore.

Bal Maidens working on the ore
Moving on, a row of cottages which look out over the harbour.

The Pier House Hotel has extended its outside seating. Very pleasant on a sunshine day.

Next a small stall selling locally sourced scallop shells.

This is one of the two small stony beaches at Charlestown.

We started to make our way back to our car. I liked the old gatepost below, bet it could tell some tales.

A few wild flowers.

And finally the path heading towards Carlyon Bay where we had parked our car.

On the way home I wondered whose legs I had seen sitting quietly watching a house being built.

Thanks for visiting my blog enjoy the week ahead.


  1. Sone lovely quirky observations and marvellous photos Mike.

  2. No need to apologise for showing Charlestown, it's become a favourite of all the places you visit. I like the industrial heritage shots and Pier House is very colourful. Good post Mike. 😀

    1. Thanks David, it's one of my favourite places too. The Pier House is somewhere we go if we want a special meal on say a birthday or some other occasion.

  3. Sammy certainly looks clean and tidy, especially for someone who scavenges in trash! I’m sure he had plenty to say as gulls never hold back. But kidding aside, I never tire of seeing your pictures of Charlestown. It seems such a lively and interesting harbor town. I’m surprised to see a new house being built in this location. Perhaps another property was torn down? Delightful post all around, Mike.

    1. Hello Ann. I should have said that the house being built was outside of Charlestown but, in saying that, there are many new houses being built in Cornwall. All well and good I guess but the roads remain as they are so more and more traffic and hold ups, especially in the summer season. Anyway, all good wishes.

  4. A lovely blog post as ever, Mike. I love your final musing about the legs... Makes a great beginning for a story! Best wishes to you and your family, and keep safe 😊

    1. Hello, good to hear from you. Hope life is treating you kindly.

  5. I always enjoy your pictures of Charlestown Mike. The one of Sammy the seagull is a corker. The old machinery and ore crushing history is very interesting. Wow, four tons of coal to smelt one ton of cooper ore!!! Heavy work. Lulu x

    1. Thanks Lulu, Sammy appeared to have taken a fancy to me and got nearer and nearer. When you look back in history it shows how hard people had to work to earn a living. We have much to be thankful for!



My Garden in Cornwall

There still isn't much colour in our garden at the moment, here in Cornwall. I think Spring must have forgotten us.  On the opposite  ...