Portreath Bicentenary Heritage Festival


Two hundred years after the creation of the Portreath to Poldice tramroad, the village is set to come alive for a bicentenary festival celebrating its history and heritage. In 1809, Francis Basset, Lord De Dunstanville (in whose memory the monument at the summit of Carn Brea was erected), laid the first piece of track in the North Cornish port. It would become the very first tramroad in Cornwall, linking the county’s inland mines with Portreath harbour. At Portreath, Cornish copper ore would be transported to South Wales for smelting, and coal from South Wales imported to power Cornish engines in return. The opening of the tramroad 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.

To mark the occasion, the village is holding a weekend of events that kicks off with a free public performance by the renowned Cornish Songwriters Collective performing their hugely popular “Cornish Lads” musical drama on Friday night (31st July). On Saturday afternoon (from 2pm), the whole village will then be appearing in historic dress for a procession led by Cornish fiddlers and complete with pack-horses, a horse-drawn carriage with Mr Williams of Scorrier House onboard, and a traditional ‘serpent dance’ by local children. Visitors are also welcome to participate and to dress up in 19th Century style if possible!

The procession begins at the school and will wind through the backstreets adorned with St.Piran flags to the quayside to welcome the arrival of a Lugger from Swansea which will be towed into the harbour in historic fashion by a team of ‘hobblers’. There will then be a token exchange of coal for a sack of copper ore, complete with Welsh and Cornish flags and speeches by the relevant parties. Continuing to Greenfield Gardens, the procession will then finish with the unveiling of a replica early nineteenth century tram wagon built by Pool Business and Enterprise College and mounted on cast iron tram plates and original set stones. Everyone can then relax and enjoy a ‘tea treat’ in the gardens with music, dancing, food and drink.

Portreath’s Millennium Hall will then host a ‘Ceilidh’ dance on Saturday evening (from 7pm, £5 entry), complete with Cornish singing and music and a best historic-dress competition. The celebrations are being complemented with the opening (on Saturday morning at 10am) of a week-long exhibition at Portreath Institute showcasing historic artefacts, images, Cornish pennies and working models of the tram in action. Local children are also to receive a Limited Edition De Dunstanville Cornish Penny that has been minted in copper especially for the bicentenary by the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site.

“Portreath deserves to be put back on the map” says Chair of the Festival Committee Bill Dodge. “This once thriving hub of the mining industry is passionate about its roots, and we wanted to celebrate them in style. The bicentenary weekend is set to be a fantastic event for people of all ages but it’s also going to be a historic moment that will be remembered for years to come.”

Deborah Boden, Co-ordinator of Cornish Mining World Heritage Site which is backing the event adds, “The village is putting so much hard work into creating this event that I’m sure it will be a massive success. The procession and the arrival of the Lugger will be especially evocative – it’s a great way to celebrate Cornwall’s internationally important mining culture.”


Note to editors: The bicentenary event coincides with the Portreath Harbour Fun Day on Sunday 2nd Aug (featuring the Surf Lifesaving Club’s Beach to Harbour Swim, greasy pole competition and children’s entertainment)

Issued on behalf of Cornish Mining World Heritage by Excess Energy Communications. For interviews and more information please contact:

Dan Jones on 07886 785 986/dan@excessenergycomms.com or Rhona Gardiner on 07740 410052/rhona@excessenergycomms.com

For programme see Mining Villages Festival Celebrating the heritage and spirit of the Cornish mining communities.

For all things Cornish Visit Cornish Heritage Contributor to The UNESCO Cornish Mining World Heritage Status

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