Par (Cornish: An Porth, meaning creek or harbour) is a village and
fishing port with a harbour on the south coast of Cornwall, England,
United Kingdom. The village is situated in the civil parish of
Tywardreath and Par, although West Par and the docks lie in the parish
of St Blaise.
Par is approximately 3.5 miles (5.6 km) east of St Austell.
Par has a population of around 1,600 (in 2012).
It became developed in the second quarter of the nineteenth century
when the harbour was developed, to serve copper mines and other
mineral sites in and surrounding the Luxulyan Valley; china clay later
became the dominant traffic as copper working declined, and the
harbour and the china clay dries remain as distinctive features of the
industrial heritage; however the mineral activity is much reduced.
Par Harbour and the beach at Par Sands are south of the village, and
the latter includes a large static caravan holiday park; another small
beach is at Spit Point west of the harbour. Between these two beaches
South West Coast Path
South West Coast Path takes an inland diversion through the
Par lies in a triangle of streets which form a one-way traffic system.
There is a variety of shops, a post office, a public house and other
2 Par Harbour and Canal
2.1 Joseph Treffry
2.2 Par Canal
3 China clay
4 The harbour today
7 Further reading
8 External links
The church of St Mary the Virgin
The Anglican church of St Mary the Virgin at Biscovey was completed in
1849. It was built mainly from the local reddish coloured Biscovey
slates. The parish of Par was formed out of parts of
St Blazey and
Tywardreath parishes in 1846. In the churchyard is an inscribed cross
shaft removed from the highroad in 1896. This stone is a sepulchral
monument to a son of Ullicus erected by Alroron. The church was the
first to be designed by the notable architect G. E. Street. The design
is an original and subtle adaptation of the Early English style. The
chancel, nave and south aisle are well proportioned and the steeple is
placed at the west end of the south aisle. The church is a Grade
II* listed building. The Church of the Good Shepherd at Par Green was
designed by E. H. Sedding and built of granite with Polyphant stone
dressings in 1896. It is in the Early English style; the sanctuary was
embellished by Stephen Dykes Bower in 1948.
Par Harbour and Canal
Before 1800 the village was a small group of houses below the cliff
overlooking the mouth of the River Par; the river was crossed by a
ferry. During the first years of the nineteenth century small scale
workings of china stone, china clay (known as kaolinite outside the
UK), copper and granite were developed.
Par Harbour in the early 20th century
Joseph Austen, born 1782, was an important
Fowey businessman; he later
changed his name to Joseph Treffry, and as that name is much better
known it is used here. He acquired an interest on many mines and pits,
and he re-opened the dormant Lanescot copper mine on the hill
overlooking Par, and developed it further. With adjacent workings it
became the rich and highly productive
Fowey Consols mine. Treffry
sought to build a tramway connection to
Fowey Harbour from his
workings, but was unable to acquire the necessary land, and instead he
decided to develop a harbour at Par. He purchased the ferry and
replaced it with a bridge in 1824, and started improvement of the
harbour in 1829; it was completed in 1840.
To bring the copper ore to Par, Treffry built a canal from Pontsmill
to Par by canalising the river; he constructed a tramway on an
inclined plane from
Fowey Consols down to Pontsmill, so that Par
harbour became a key location in the transport chain. The harbour
development led to the expansion of Par, and the community was
detached from the parish of St Blaise (later St Blazey) in the mid
Treffry later built a new tramway up the
Luxulyan Valley to Molinnis,
and extended it down from
Pontsmill to Par, by-passing the canal; this
further developed the importance of Par. However copper was exported
to Swansea for smelting and coal for powering mine engines were
imported from there; this involved a difficult sea passage around
Land's End, and Treffry announced his intention to continue his
tramway to Newquay, on the north coast of Cornwall. This was not
achieved in his lifetime.
In the fourth quarter of the nineteenth century, the importance of
copper working had seriously diminished, due to exhaustion and the
availability of cheaper supplies of the mineral elsewhere in the
world. At the same time, china clay (kaolinite) became ever more
important, and industrialisation of the extraction and processing work
took place. This mineral became the dominant outward traffic at Par,
and clay dries were erected in the vicinity (at Par Moors and
elsewhere), together with further expansion of the harbour.
The opening of the
Cornwall Railway from
Plymouth in 1859 encouraged
further expansion of Par 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 by this time
a railway connection and handled 114,403 tons. In 1987 Par handled
700,000 tons, by 2002 the port served 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.
Par Harbour in 2009
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.
The harbour today
A 450-foot (140 m) breakwater encloses 35 acres (14 ha) of
water which is tidal with only 16 feet (4.9 m) depth of water
and, unlike nearby Fowey, it cannot accommodate large ocean-going
ships. The harbour is operated by the French mineral extraction
Today china clay is piped to the harbour in slurry form; most 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
were 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
The line of the former
Cornwall Minerals Railway passing under Par
Viaduct near the entrance to Par Harbour
The first railway in Par was the southwards extension of Treffry
Tramways, a horse-operated mineral railway that connected Molinnis and
pits and quarries in the
Luxulyan Valley with Par. This opened in
1865, replacing the canal.
Cornwall Railway opened from
Truro on 4 May 1859 when
Par railway station
Par railway station was opened to the north-east of Par, giving the
village a connection to London. This involved the building of Par
Viaduct to cross the old tramway. 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 Treffry's line was to the
4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge, so
that through running was not possible. The
Cornwall Railway line was
converted to standard gauge on 21 May 1892, from which time ordinary
interworking became possible.
Treffry's tramway was taken over by the
Cornwall Minerals Railway
(CMR). It was upgraded for locomotive operation and extended to form a
link throughout to
Newquay and Fowey. It reopened in this form on 1
June 1874; passenger operation started in 1876.
Par harbour continued in importance in the twentieth century; the
restricted railway facilities on the site led to dedicated shunting
locomotives, such as Bagnall 0-4-0ST "Alfred" and "Judy", being built
specially for the work.
The railway line from Par to
Fowey closed on 1 July 1968, and was
converted to a private haul road linking the two harbours; it is now
owned by Imerys.
Par railway station
Par railway station is still open on the Cornish Main
Plymouth to Penzance. It is the junction for the Atlantic
Coast Line local passenger train service to Newquay.
British Rail introduced the
British Rail Class 43 (HST) from
1975,[clarification needed] bringing faster trains to Par from
London Paddington and further afield.
^ Henry Jenner, A Handbook of the Cornish Language: Chiefly in Its
Latest Stages, with Some Account of its History and Literature,
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1904 reprinted 2012,
ISBN 978 1 108 04702 9
^ Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 200
Newquay & Bodmin
^ Cornish Church Guide (1925) Truro: Blackford; p. 174
^ Peter Beacham; Nikolaus Pevsner (2014). Cornwall. Yale University
Press. pp. 396–97. ISBN 978-0-300-12668-6
^ Beacham (2014), p. 397
Cornwall Archaeological Unit, The
Luxulyan Valley Project: an
Archaeological and Historical Survey, Truro, 1988
^ a b c John Vaughan, The
Newquay Branch and its Branches,
Haynes/Oxford Publishing Company, Sparkford, 1991,
Imerys Blueprint for
Cornwall 2003: Vision for the future, page 42
^ "Transport Background Technical Report – South West Regional
Spatial Strategy" (PDF). South West Regional Assembly. September 2006.
p. 20. Retrieved 23 May 2007.
^ BBC (6 July 2006). "
China clay job cuts close docks". BBC News.
Retrieved 26 November 2007.
^ "Par Docks – creating a 21st century harbour".
ECO-BOS. [permanent dead link]
John Keast, The King of Mid-Cornwall: the Life of Joseph Thomas
Treffry (1782–1850), Truran, 1983, ISBN 978-0907566199
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Par, Cornwall.
Cornwall Record Office Catalogue for Par
Geograph – photos of Par and surrounding area
Ceremonial county of Cornwall
Council of the Isles of Scilly
St Columb Major
St Just in Penwith
See also: List of civil parishes in Cornwall
Population of major settlements
Places of interest
Outline of Cornwall
Index of Cornwal