Saturday, 1 August 2009

Portreath Bi-Centennial of the Tramway

The History Lesson for Today....

In 1809 Francis Basset, Lord De Dunstanville of Tehidy, laid the first section of track to the north Cornish port of Portreath which, in doing so, created the first above ground tramway route in Cornwall to use iron rails, linking the inland copper mines of North Downs and Poldice with the harbour and major copper smelters of south Wales.

Coal from the Welsh valleys was also to be imported in great quantity to power Cornish mine engines by return establishing an important reciprocal trade. The opening of the tramroad, or plateway as originally built, enabled massive growth in the volume of both copper ore and coal moving between the two areas, and the expansion of both the mining and smelting industries as a result. (Sourced information from:

And so, in the 21st Century - 200 years later....

The day dawned a little cloudy and mizzly (that's drizzly and misty in Cornwall speak!).

We had arranged to head off to Sally-Ann and Mikes for midday to watch the celebrations from their front veranda, as they live right on the head of the harbour in Portreath.
The sun came out and the day started to get very warm indeed and, after eating a rather scrummy lunch of prawn sandwich and cream cakes,we watched as the sails of the old lugger came into view over the harbour walls.

Then it was time to turn into Anneka Rice (from Treasure Hunt for those of you too young to remember!) and charge up the harbour to get blog photo's...

as the lugger entered the harbour walls the swells from the sea made it difficult to do what was originally intended - to hobble her through by foot.

instead, the talented crew sailed her right through the harbour cut

with Sally-Ann and I racing up ahead of it every few minutes to get the next photo!

in she came, safe and sound

and was moored at the far end of the harbour, and prepared for the next leg of her journey

This lovely lady and gent agreed to pose for us, as they looked so handsome in their costumes, and it was not until later on, when the speeches began, that we realised we had been talking to some high up big wigs, involved in the organising of the celebrations!

At this point, we realised we were on the wrong side of the harbour for the procession, bands and speeches, so once again we did a quick sprint around the head of the harbour and ensconced ourselves at the front to watch the speeches

everyone then headed off once more, this time towards Greenfield Gardens for the unveiling of a tramway wagon, built by the students of Pool and Enterprise College

again we found some lovely ladies all dressed in period costume, who kindly agreed to pose, and again it turns out they were involved in the organising!

Once all of the speeches were complete and the commemorative plaque unveiled, Paul and I had a quick moment to catch up (I'd left him behind at the harbour, when I'd dashed up to the gardens for more blog photo's!)

following the unveiling, all of the village children were presented with a coin, in memory of the days events

If you would like more historical information, please feel free to click on the link mentioned above, where you will find the full itinerary of the day more factual info. (the Dolcoath Penny photo was also taken from this site)


Lori E said...

I half expected a photo of Captain Jack Sparrow. (sorry I have a Johnny Depp thing going on)
Those ships are amazing. We have a tall ship display not far from Vancouver some years. The crowds are huge.

melanie said...

Great Blog on Portreath history, great pics too..!