A view of Port Isaac
Port Isaac shown within Cornwall
|OS grid reference|
|Civil parish||St Endellion|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||PORT ISAAC|
|Police||Devon and Cornwall|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
|UK Parliament||North Cornwall|
Port Isaac (Cornish: Porthysek) is a small and picturesque fishing village on the Atlantic Coast of north Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. The nearest towns are Wadebridge and Camelford, both ten miles away. Port Gaverne, commonly mistaken to be part of Port Isaac, is a nearby hamlet that has its own history. The meaning of the Cornish name is "corn port", indicating a trade in corn from the arable inland district.
Since the 1980s the village has served as backdrop to various television productions, including the ITV series Doc Martin.
The Port Isaac pier was constructed during the reign of Henry VIII. "...Tudor pier and breakwater have now yielded to a strong new sea-wall balanced by an arm on the opposite side of the cove, and we do not doubt that the fishermen sleep more soundly in their beds on stormy nights." (Arthur Mee: Cornwall; The King's England; London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1937, p. 184.) The centre of the village dates from the 18th and 19th centuries, from a time when its prosperity was tied to local coastal freight and fishing. The port handled cargoes such as coal, wood, stone, ores, limestone, salt, pottery and heavy goods which were conveyed along its narrow streets. The pilchard fishery began here before the 16th century and in 1850 there were 49 registered fishing boats and four fish cellars. Fishermen still work from the Platt, landing their daily catch of fish, crab and lobsters. The historic core of the village was designated a Conservation Area in 1971 and North Cornwall District Council reviewed this in 2008 with the endorsement of detailed Port Isaac Conservation Area Appraisal document and a related Conservation Area Management Plan. Today the village also now has around 90 Listed buildings (all Grade II).
The Port Isaac lifeboat station was established in 1869 following the delivery of two lifeboats called Richard and Sarah. The former boathouse building was until recently the Post Office but is now a gift shop. In the early 1960s the Royal National Lifeboat Institution introduced the Inshore Lifeboat, and in 1967 the Port Isaac Station reopened with a new class D inshore lifeboat. Since that time, the lifeboat has responded to more than 623 calls, in the process saving more than 333 lives. Today, Port Isaac's crew and shore helpers man the station 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, providing full coverage of part of the north coast of Cornwall. The current lifeboat is called 'Copeland Bell'.
In July 2012, the crew of the Lifeboat received gallantry medals following a dangerous rescue. It is only the second time in RNLI history that all the crew of a D class inflatable lifeboat have received gallantry medals. It is also the first time a silver medal has been awarded to a member of a Port Isaac crew since 1870.
Until the closure of the Okehampton to Wadebridge railway line in 1966 the village was served by a station at Port Isaac Road. The station, some three miles (five kilometres) inland from Port Isaac itself, opened on 1 June 1895, and had a passing loop and a single siding with headshunt that served a goods shed and loading dock. All buildings were of local stone; station building and signal box locking room on the up platform, the small waiting shelter on the down platform, and the goods shed. Ticket sales were low, with nearly 4,500 annually in 1928, dropping to under 2,000 in 1936; freight dropped in a similar way over the same period. The station layout never changed until the station siding was taken out of use in December 1965. The station was unstaffed from 6 December 1965 and closed on 3 October 1966. The station buildings and goods shed survive largely unchanged.
There are two large car parks on the outskirts of the village.
The village is served by Western Greyhound's 584 bus service from Wadebridge to Camelford which runs five times daily in each direction, except for Sundays. A summer Sunday service provides up to four return journeys.
Places of worship
The church of St. Peter was built as a chapel-of-ease in the parish of St Endellion in 1882–84; Port Isaac became a separate parish in 1913 though more recently it has returned to St. Endellion parish. The building materials were granite and stone and the style adopted was Early English.
There have been three Nonconformist places of worship in the village: the oldest was a Quaker meeting house, 1806; from 1832 it was in use by the Baptists but was converted to a dwelling house in 1871. The United Methodist chapel (1846) and the Wesleyan Methodist chapel remain in use.
Despite its isolation, the village has had several visits from celebrities. The BBC series Poldark (1975–77) used locations in the area. The BBC drama serial The Nightmare Man (1981) was also filmed in and around the village, which doubled for a Scottish island, and it was also a location for the film of Oscar and Lucinda (1997). The local village hall has been decorated by the team of DIY SOS, and to date, six series of ITV's Doc Martin have been filmed there although the village has the fictional name of "Port Wenn." Saving Grace, a successful comedy film, was filmed in and around the village.
In October 2005, the village was again used for the backdrop to the television production of Rosamunde Pilcher's The Shell Seekers. Filming took place in the village for a week with the production's star, Vanessa Redgrave, filming many of her scenes in the main street. The filming of the third series is currently taking place. Port Isaac also was the location for the BBC one-off supernatural play Tarry-Dan Tarry-Dan Scarey Old Spooky Man broadcast in May 1978.
The village has become home, for part of the year, to designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and actress Julie Peasgood. Port Isaac is the home of many working artists, such as Barbara Hawkins and her husband Bill Hawkins, and Kenny Brundle. Many are inspired by the coastal views and picturesque location.
Port Isaac is home to the group Fisherman's Friends, sea-shanty singers.
- Place-names in the Standard Written Form (SWF) : List of place-names agreed by the MAGA Signage Panel. Cornish Language Partnership.
- Clegg, David (2005) Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly. Leicester: Matador; pp. 63–64
- Port Isaac RNLI – Port Isaac office website
- RNLI Website - RNLI Press release
- "Port Isaac article in Genuki". Genuki. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Port Isaac.|
- Port Isaac Info site – Weather, History, Photos, Videos...
- Port Isaac at the Open Directory Project
- Information on lifeboat station
- Cornwall Record Office Online Catalogue for Port Isaac