Cottages overlooking the inner harbour at Charlestown
Charlestown shown within Cornwall
|OS grid reference|
|Civil parish||St Austell Bay|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||ST. AUSTELL|
|Police||Devon and Cornwall|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
|UK Parliament||St Austell and Newquay|
Charlestown (Cornish: Porth Meur, meaning great cove) is a village and port on the south coast of Cornwall, England, United Kingdom, in the parish of St Austell Bay. It is situated approximately 2 miles (3 km) south east of St Austell town centre.
The port at Charlestown developed from what was in the late 18th century the fishing village of West Polmear. Whereas other areas within the conurbation of St Austell have seen much development during the 20th century, Charlestown has remained relatively unchanged within this expansion. There are deposits of china clay in the area. Particles of mica quartz in the sea near Charlestown give it a turquoise-blue colour. The same colour is imparted to flooded china clay quarries.
Charlestown grew out of a small fishing village called West Polmear (also West Porthmear). Prior to the building of the harbour trading vessels landed and loaded on the beach. It was developed in the Georgian era (specifically from 1790 when work on building an outer quay began to 1799 when the first dock gates were erected) as a new town, and named after local landowner Charles Rashleigh who had a hand in its design. In 1799 the locals asked his permission to rename the place Charles's Town which in turn became Charlestown. The works were to the plans of John Smeaton. It was built to facilitate the transport of copper from nearby mines but its main function became the export of china clay from the region's quarries and, to a limited extent, still serves that purpose today.
Following the death of Charles Rashleigh in 1823 the fate of Charlestown was caught up in the financial problems of Rashleigh's estate. As a result in 1825 Messrs. Crowder and Sartoris, trading as Charlestown Estate, agreed to accept all the leasehold property in Charlestown in lieu of sums owed to them and purchased the rest of the estate from the Rashleigh family thus becoming the new owners of the port and the surrounding settlement.
In 1790 the settlement was known as West Polmear and had a population of 9, which increased to 3,184 by 1911.
By the early 1990s the china clay trade declined and the harbour was hardly used. In 1994 it was bought by Square Sail as a base for their ships. Much of Square Sail's business now involves using the harbour and their ships as film sets.
Charlestown harbour is used by several local fisherman. The harbour itself is owned by Square Sail, a company that owns and sails a small fleet of tall ships, including Kaskelot. One or two of these can often be found at anchor in the harbour, and are frequently open for tours during the summer months. The best-known tall ship to regularly visit the port was the Maria Asumpta, first launched in 1858 and the world's oldest working square rigger. The Maria Asumpta was very popular with tourists and locals alike, until the ship ran aground and broke up on the north Cornish coast in May 1995, with the loss of three of her sixteen crew.
It was announced in July 2012 that the harbour was up for sale for around £1.2 million.
Charlestown is a popular tourist destination. Attractions are the architecture, the sea, and the Charlestown Shipwreck, Rescue and Heritage Centre.
In addition to the Shipwreck Centre, there is a restaurant called the Bosun's Diner which is situated on top of the Shipwreck centre. By the harbour entrance is the Pier House Hotel, and there is also a public house owned by St Austell Brewery called the Rashleigh Arms. A gift shop is also in the village, but the post office closed down without a replacement
Charlestown harbour has been used several times as a filming location for both film and television dramas. For example, on 25 September 2008 Tim Burton filmed a part of his Alice in Wonderland movie here. Filming took place on 1 February 2011 for much of The Curse of the Black Spot, an episode of the Dr Who television series. It was filmed at night on the sailing ship Phoenix of Dell Quay while it was moored in the harbour.
Charlestown Rowing Club is based in the village.
Charlestown Primary School is a one form entry primary school situated between Charlestown village and Carlyon Bay. It currently has 211 children. In 1999 the school was awarded Beacon Status to work in partnership with other schools sharing good practice. In May 2002 the school achieved Healthy Schools Status. The school's declared aim is to "Promote the highest standards of work and behaviour and to provide opportunities for success for all children in a caring environment of mutual trust, respect and harmony."
Charlestown is in the new parliamentary constituency of St Austell and Newquay. Previously, the village was in part of an unparished area with all local services directly administered by Cornwall County Council, but since 1 April 2009 is in the newly formed St Austell Bay civil parish.
- Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 200 Newquay & Bodmin ISBN 978-0-319-22938-5
- Last Refuge
- "Photographs of St Paul's parish church, including shots of the interior and stained glass windows".
- IMDB. "Alice in Wonderland (2010)". Retrieved 2 April 2011.
- BBC (4 February 2011). "Dr Who is filmed in Charlestown". BBC News. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
- Mulkern, Patrick (7–13 May 2011). "Who ahhhhh!". Radio Times (BBC Magazines) 349 (4539): 6–7.
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