Genealogy Tours!

Well, it’s a grim day today (can’t you just tell it’s a Bank Holiday weekend), as you can see from the view from Kampington’s side window (or “the TV” as Mark calls it). It’s actually got worse since I took the photo…


This seems like a good blog-updating opportunity!
Well, I arrived on Saturday afternoon last week at a really nice Caravan Club at St Agnes.


I had a “genealogy tourism” outing on Sunday down the coast to Portreath. Here’s Kampington parked up by the seaside….


Portreath is a little village on the coast that was a major industrial port in the second half of the 18th century / first half of the nineteenth century. Copper coming from Cornish mines in the area would be shipped to South Wales for smelting and coal brought back (particularly in the later period when lots of the stuff was needed to fuel engines at the mines). This was more a summer than a winter activity as it could be hard for ships to get into the North Coast harbours in winter. It looked benign enough when I visited, but I took a photo of a photo on an information board showing “the entrance to the harbour in March”. Hmmmm.




Once they’d navigated the entrance, ships would come into an outer basin (completed 1801 – the original pier was built around 1760), then beyond that there’s a smaller inner basin. The photo pinched from another information board shows ships in the harbour in the 1860s.


“Who cares?” I hear you ask! Well, it turns out that both my GGG and GGGG grandfathers on my paternal grandma’s side were coal porters at Portreath, and many of their siblings / cousins were either porters or mariners…. So I’d gone to Portreath for a nosey to see what could be seen….

In 1837, Portreath was linked to some of the mining areas by a railway, which culminated in an incline down to the port. So I guess if you were a coal porter in a census (1851 / 1861 / 1871) you were lugging coal from the ships in the port to the bottom of the incline. It’s not a long way, but I certainly wouldn’t want to do it all day! The stolen incline photo is from the 1890s and I also took a photo of what remains to be seen today.



The row of houses to the right of the incline in the 1890s photo is relevant. Most of the old rows in the bottom of the valley were demolished sometime in the 20th century to make way for horrendous modern constructions. This terrace is still there and I had my suspicions it could be River Row as the remains of the river (some has been diverted) run just on the other side of the lane at the bottoms of the gardens. At the end by the incline, though, it had a modern sign with “Tregea Terrace” on it. I did later in the week find an old plan in the record office in Truro which confirms that this IS River Row….. Apparently it was mainly inhabited by workers at the docks (most of whom I seem to be somehow related to!). It’s a bit of a higgledy piggledy terrace (some smaller houses, some a bit bigger, roof lines not matching up – so presumably one of the earlier terraces that was added to over time) and there’s no way of knowing who may have lived in which house as the old numbers seem to have all been replaced by names (and yes, many are now holiday cottages)….


At the other end of the terrace (the end nearest the beach) still stands the Basset Arms, where I have relatives residing in a couple of the censuses (lodging there rather than running the place).


Other streets seemed more uniform in construction but none still have the names they had on the old census records. Here’s Greenfield Terrace, which is typical of the kind of older housing still to be seen. There WAS a GreenLAND Terrace on the old census entries… I need an expert (Sally?) to tell me when approximately they think these houses were most likely built…


The rest of the week has been spent at the Cornish Studies Library in Redruth and the Record Office in Truro. Neither building was really worthy of a photo! I’m making brisk progress on the Cornish part of my dad’s family tree….

I drove down to Sennen Cove after leaving the Record Office yesterday, thinking I might go visit some of the tourist sights down here over the weekend. Perhaps not today though……. This may be a day for continuing to work through my notes from last week I think!

One comment

  1. Stone generally reckoned to look older than it is. I don’t know how plentiful the material is in the area but they are made of cut blocks and something has to do the cutting. Gauging by the sash windows on most houses my guess is this row is late Victorian. Just using earlier period detail like the quoins. Discounted the small panes of house nearest as modern alteration.


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