Portreath Harbour Gallery

Portreath Harbour is recorded as one of Cornwall’s earliest industrial ports. The name Portreath means Sandy Bay or Sandy Harbour.

For many years it was know as Basset’s cove after the wealthy mining family that owned a large proportion of the land. There is still their summer house which has now been converted to holiday apartments. Also one of the pubs in the village is called The Basset Arms.

Portreath Harbour
Portreath Harbour 1 – This first image was taken on the hill above the Harbour, this gives a good view of the length of the quay.
The first harbour here was built in 1713 on the Western side of the cove, traces of it still remain today. The present harbour was constructed during the years 1760 and 1860. In 1846 the inner basin was constructed, the new dock was completed by 1860.
Portreath Harbour
Portreath Harbour 2 – So, this is the end of the Quay, the shelter or “Monkey Hut” close to the end. This was destroyed in the storms of January 2014, it has since been rebuilt.
Portreath Harbour
Portreath Harbour 3 – I caught this wave nicely. However this is only a baby compared to some of the storms this harbour has had.
In 1827 Portreath was described as Cornwall’s most important Port. Coal and Timber were imported here to feed the demand of the ever growing local mines. The Tin and Copper production from these mines was exported. The copper ore being sent to Swansea in South Wales for smelting, the Tin went all over the world, the true metal of commerce.
Because the mines and workings got deeper the engines were bigger so the demand for coal always increased. During the early to mid 19th century it’s estimated a total of 100,000 tons of copper was shipped from here each year.
Portreath Harbour
Portreath Harbour 4 – This was quite a rough day at Portreath, it can make returning to harbour a difficult task.
Portreath Harbour
Portreath Harbour 5 – A second image of the boat moving safely along the harbour wall.
Portreath Harbour
Portreath Harbour 6 – Ben the Dog enjoying the sun on the hill above the harbour. My friend and companion for 16 years, he loved Cornwall, and I will miss him always.
Between 1809 and 1818 the Portreath Tramroad was built to aid the transport of goods to and from the many mines in the surrounding area. Most noteably the tramroad reached the great copper mines around Scorrier, including Great North Downs and Poldice.
This was the first railway to be laid above ground in Cornwall finally reaching 6 miles in length. Until them the ore and material had been transported by mules and horses over unmade roads. By the mid 1850’s the tram had fallen into disrepair, the eventual closure came in the 1870’s. This was mainly due to the introduction of steam trains and the declining output from the once great Copper mines.
Portreath Harbour
Portreath Harbour 7 – Looking out along the Quay wall out to sea when the tide is out, on the left of the image is Gull Rock. Finally on the right just in view is the Upper Pilot’s Hut.
The tramroad never carried passengers, but there was a “coach” for the directors and owners. This still survives today and can be seen in the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro.
By the 1830’s the trade started to decrease, partly due to the Redruth and Chacewater railway which was transporting much of the ore to Devoran which was much safer for the ships to enter.
Portreath Harbour
Portreath Harbour 8 – With the tide out I wandered down into the middle basin of the harbour. All the time I have spent in Portreath I had never noticed the Roman Numerals on the side of the wall.
Portreath Harbour
Portreath Harbour 9 – A slightly different angle, the vertical slot in the wall on the right was for a gate that was lowered into place when the weather was bad to protect the slips moored within.
Portreath had a short new lease of life when during the 1830’s a branch of the Hayle Railway was extended to the harbour. This linked the mines surrounding Camborne and Redruth. The impressive stone built incline still survives and is a major landmark in the village. At the top of the incline was a stationary steam engine which would haul the loaded wagons up the hill.
From the 1850’s with the decline in industry, the harbour still served many small colliers bringing coal to the area. There was also a thriving ship building and fishing industry.
Portreath Harbour
Portreath Harbour 10 – Stranded by the tide this boat waits patiently for the sea to return.
Portreath Harbour
Portreath Harbour 11 – At the mouth of the harbour is the Lower Pilots Lookout. Also known as “Dead Man’s Hut”. The wall of the harbour here is cut into the natural rock.
Portreath Harbour
Portreath Harbour 12 – The steps leading up to the Lower Pilot’s Lookout. This was used to control the entry of ships into the harbour using a flag system.
Things are a bit quieter there these days, I have spent a lot of time in Portreath, there is something about the place that keeps drawing me back. The images on this page were taken during the summer of 2008 and the years that followed to the present day.
Portreath Harbour
Portreath Harbour 13 – Standing by the lower lookout, this is taken looking into the harbour.
Portreath Harbour
Portreath Harbour 14 – This area of the harbour was once used to store coal and copper ore in hutches.
Portreath Harbour
Portreath Harbour 15 – This old building is at the end of the Waterfront Pub car park.
Portreath Harbour
Portreath Harbour 16 – One of the old huts along the side of the harbour. This is currently used to store fishing equipment.
Portreath Harbour
Portreath Harbour 17 – Old harbour cottages make an interesting photograph.
Portreath Harbour
Cornish Mine Images 18 – Old building at the harbour near to the slipway. The wooden one on the right has been removed in recent years.
Portreath Harbour
Cornish Mine Images 19 – The side wall of the old storage building.
Cornish Mine Images
Cornish Mine Images 20 – One of the many granite mooring posts along the harbour wall.
Cornish Mine Images
Cornish Mine Images 21 – My friend Dave looking out over the inner basin of the harbour.
Cornish Mine Images
Cornish Mine Images 22 – This image is looking out to the harbour framed by two boats.
Cornish Mine Images
Cornish Mine Images 23 – Personally I think this is one of the best images on this page, I like the balance of the dark and light.
Cornish Mine Images
Cornish Mine Images 24 – There are always some boats around the harbour, usually out of the water for maintenance.
Portreath still has a small but busy fishing industry. Over the winter months the boats are lifter from the harbour and stored on the quay. The winter storms that hit this side of Cornwall can be truly terrifying.
Cornish Mine Images
Cornish Mine Images 25 – Some of the small fishing boats that operate from the harbour.
Cornish Mine Images
Cornish Mine Images 26 – A row of boats moored in the middle basin.
Cornish Mine Images
Cornish Mine Images 27 – The construction of the harbour wall can be clearly seen.
Cornish Mine Images
Cornish Mine Images 28 – A boat in the harbour with the water glinting in the sunlight.
Portreath Harbour
Cornish Mine Images 29 – I like this one, simply the roof of a boat moored in the harbour.
Portreath Harbours
Cornish Mine Images 30 – Finally on this page is of the steps leading up to the lower lookout.
Portreath is a very special place to me. So many good memories and a close friend who puts up with me when I am down in the West Country.

For more information about Portreath click Here.

The Redruth Drainage Tunnel

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