The Port of Charlestown, Cornwall, near were the artist lived (Polmear Parc) for many years, within the port and bounds of the Port of Fowey.
Available as a signed limited edition print via our Print Gallery page
A working port when Gordon Frickers painted this, it was the base for the barque “Marques” and the brig Maria Asumpta”, later the HQ of the company “Square Sail” who supplied ships for movies, corporate entertainment etc.
The port remains largely as original and has been often used as a film set.
The ships are “Marques” & “Maria Asumpta”, not part of Square Sail.
The latter was at the time the oldest square rigger still sailing in the world and the artist voyaged on her.
The restaurant / hotel on the quay is highly recommended as quaint, quiet quality as is the Rashleigh Arms in the village at the head of the dock for a value for money pub, visit, enjoy!
For many years small ships would beach at West Polmear now known as Charlestown, to unload and load.
The port was built by Charles Rashleigh in 1795 to help the china clay export industry to grow.
One of the first ships of the new port and the largest at the time within the Port of Fowey was built in the same year almost certainly by her initial owner the very productive ship wright Thomas Shepheard of nearby Mevagissey.
She was registered as “Charlestown of Charlestown”, as a barge, a 70 ton sloop.
She may even have been built on the beach in a nearby cove, at Polmear as Shepheard was also building on Polmear beach (5 vessels) in 1794 until 1798.
He sold shares in “Charlestown” to Joseph Dingle, merchant, Richard Williams and John Nancollas described as mariners of Saint Austell.
The ship had a long life finally she “went absent” in 1850.
Thomas Shepheard seems to have been involved in “the trade” – smuggling, the “black economy” which reached its peak in 1805, much favoured by the Cornish and Welsh, literally moonlighting.
During the French Revolutionary, Napoleonic and American wars over 20% of Port of Fowey ships were seized by the Revenue while less than 10% lost to enemy action.
Thomas Shepheard built many fast luggers, cutters and other fore and aft rigged craft, much favoured for “The Trade” for their speed, manoeuvrability, economy and ability to sail close to the wind thus to enter and leave more quickly than a square rigger.
During this period, the schooner rig gradually became more popular (see “I have urgent dispatches”) and unlike the American version, retained its square sails (see The Schooner Jane Banks leaving Fowey). 9 of his vessels were sized and 4 went to the Port of Rye, East Sussex, another port notorious for smuggling gang worked and curiously also were Gordon Frickers built boats in Rope Walk, during the 1970’s, as M.D. of South East Boat Builders Ltd.
As with Par, Fowey and Pentewan, In the 1860’s the railways were extended to the port.
The copper mines in the area were very successful in the early and mid-19th century so the local ports and their ships thrived and expanded.
Large quantities of granite and china clay also contributed to the success.
Gordon Frickers says “I was very fortunate to live near Charlestown. If you find yourself in the ancient granite kingdom of Cornwall be sure to take lunch at the Rashliegh Arms, Charlestown and I hope, raise a glass to my memory and that of Charles Rashliegh.
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Gordon Frickers © updated 11,05,2016
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