Portreath (Cornish: Porthtreth or Porth Treth) is a civil parish, village and fishing port on the north coast, about three miles (5 km) northwest of Redruth. The village extends along both sides of a stream valley and is centred on the harbour and beach. West of the harbour entrance and breakwater are two sandy beaches that are popular with holidaymakers, surfers and naturists.
Portreath lies within the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB. The name Portreath (meaning “sandy cove”) was first recorded in 1485, and tin streaming in the valley was recorded from 1602.
Devon contractor Samuel Nott was engaged to build the first mole (or quay) in 1713 on the western side of the beach, near Amy’s Point. The quay was destroyed by the sea before 1749, and the foundations are occasionally seen when the sea washes away the sand.
The village also had a fishing fleet, mainly for pilchards. The harbour we see today was started in 1760 to service the expanding ore industry in the Camborne and Redruth area.
In the late 1770s, Francis Basset, commanded local miners to fortify the port.
By 1827, Portreath was described as Cornwall’s most important port and was, with Devoran on the south coast, one of the main ports for sending the copper ore mined in the Gwennap area to Swansea for smelting. The ships returned with Welsh coal to fire the steam engines used on the mines. The peak of this enterprise was around 1840, when some 100,000 tons of copper ore were shipped out each year.
With the population growing, a church was built in 1827; the Portreath Hotel (1856), Methodist Chapel (1858), Basset Arms (1878) and the School (1880) all followed. A cholera outbreak in 1878 caused the death of almost half the population.
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