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Par (Cornish: Porth, meaning cove) is a town and fishing port with a harbour on the south coast of Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. The town is situated in the civil parish of Tywardreath and Par, although West Par and the docks lies in the St Blaise parish. Par is approximately 3.5 miles (5.6 km) east of St Austell. Par has a population of around 1,400..
Par Harbour and the beach at Par Sands are south of the town with another small beach is at Spit Point west of the harbour. Between these two beaches the South West Coast Path takes an inland diversion through the town.
Par Harbour and Canal 
The village started as a small group of houses below a cliff overlooking the mouth of the small River Par that was crossed by a ferry. Joseph Austen (later Joseph Treffry) purchased the ferry and replaced it with a bridge in 1824. He then started construction of a harbour in 1829 near the mouth of the river; it was completed in 1840.
The harbour development saw the expansion of the village which split away from the parish of St Blaise to the north in the mid 19th century. The arrival of the railway from Plymouth in 1859 encouraged further expansion north-eastwards towards Tywardreath. The boundaries between the three settlements are now somewhat indistinct.
In 1858 15,154 tons of china clay were shipped out of Par. By 1885 86,325 tons were being handled at Par, but Fowey now had a railway line and handled 114,403. In 1987 the port handled 700,000 tons, by 2002 the port had 284 vessels per year which were loaded with 318,455 metric tons (313,425 long tons) of china clay, and 107 vessels loaded with 136,970 metric tons (134,810 long tons) of secondary aggregates for the building trade
Initially, cargoes were mainly to and from Austen's mines and quarries above St Blazey; later further mines and china clay dries were situated on Par Moors adjacent to the harbour.
Treffry built the Par Canal to serve the harbour by canalising 2.25 miles (3.6 km) of the river and digging a new river channel slightly to the east. There was an entrance lock to the canal at the harbour, and then two more between there and its terminus at Pontsmill, north of St Blazey. From here inclined planes carried tramways to Fowey Consols mine and Colcerrow quarry. The latter line was expanded northwards and over the Treffry Viaduct and also was eventually brought right into the harbour. Some china clay was carried by the canal, it being loaded into open containers at the works to ease transshipment at Pontsmill.
The harbour developed a range of industrial facilities including a lead smelter with a 248-foot (76 m) high chimney known as Par Stack. This was used as a navigation aid by shipping until it was demolished in 1907.
Today china clay is piped to the harbour in slurry form, most of which is dried in large sheds before exporting either from Par or Fowey, the two being linked by a private road. One berth at Par can also load clay slurry into coasting vessels. The harbour also has a rail link that is used to carry away dried clay loaded in rail vans.
A major reduction in china clay operations, announced on 4 July 2006, included proposals to close Par to commercial shipping and to close some of the clay dryers. The closures took effect in 2007. There are plans to re-develop the docks as part of the St Austell and Clay Country Eco-town. This would include a new marina and 500-700 homes.
The Cornwall Railway opened from Plymouth to Truro on 4 May 1859 when Par railway station was opened to the north-east of Par, the railway then rose up over the tramway on a five arch granite viaduct on its way to St Austell. A siding was opened down to the harbour from the west end of the viaduct on 13 February 1860.
The Cornwall Railway was built to the broad gauge of 7 ft (2,134 mm) but the tramway to Luxulyan was to the 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge which led to complex mixed gauge railways in the harbour until the broad gauge was converted on the weekend of 21 May 1892.
The tramway was converted to a railway on 1 June 1874 by the Cornwall Minerals Railway that linked Fowey with Newquay, whose workshops and engine shed were situated on the north side of the village. St Blazey railway station was opened adjacent to these on 20 June 1876 but in 1879 a loop line was built between the two stations and the Cornwall Minerals Railway station was renamed St Blazey to avoid the confusion of two stations with the same name; the workshops and engine shed were then known as St Blazey too. At around this time the Cornwall Railway station was rebuilt and the main building is still in use today. The line from Par to Fowey closed on 1 July 1968 to be converted into the private road linking the two harbours.
- See also Bagnall 0-4-0ST "Alfred" and "Judy"; the distinctive locomotives used at Par harbour.
- Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 200 Newquay & Bodmin ISBN 978-0-319-22938-5
- p.42, Imerys Blueprint for Cornwall 2003: Vision for the future
- "Transport Background Technical Report - South West Regional Spatial Strategy" (PDF). South West Regional Assembly. September 2006. pp. page 20. Retrieved May 23, 2007.
- BBC (2006-07-06). "China clay job cuts close docks". BBC News. Retrieved 2007-11-26.
- "Par Docks – creating a 21st century harbour". ECO-BOS.
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