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Porthcurno LoganRock
Porthcurno LoganRock
  About your Area

The Logan Rock headland, about 30 minutes' walk from Porthcurno to the east along the coastal footpath on the east side of Porthcurno Bay is famous for the 80 tonne granite rocking stone (Logan Rock) perched at the top of the middle outcrop of rocks on the small rocky peninsula. Millennia of erosion had balanced it so finely that one person could move it easily and visibly. In 1824 a group of sailors led by Lieutenant Goldsmith, nephew of the poet Oliver Goldsmith, and the worse for drink climbed up to Logan Rock armed with crowbars and dislodged it, allowing it to fall down the cliff. Such was the disgust of the local people at this blatant act of vandalism, that they complained to the Admiralty and Goldsmith was ordered to replace the rock at his own expense. It took 7 months, 60 labourers and cost Goldsmith £130 at 1824 prices to replace it. It is said that Logan Rock has never really rocked properly since that time. The original invoice for equipment and labour is now displayed on the wall of The Logan Rock public house in the nearby village of Treen, Cornwall.

Just to the north of the peninsula is evidence of an Iron Age cliff fort called Treryn Dinas, comprising about 5 ramparts, ditches and some evidence of round dwelling huts. There is a small rocky island off the Logan Rock peninsula called Horrace and another smaller granite island which is only visible at low tide, providing a useful quick indication of the tide state.

[edit] Climate and Tourism

The natural beauty of the area and its mild climate make the beach and surrounding coastline very popular with tourists throughout the year but especially in the summer months, and they can become very crowded during the school holidays in July and August. The prevailing wind is from the south west and the winters are unusually mild for its latitude because of the influence of the warm Gulf Stream sea current crossing the Atlantic Ocean from warmer seas around the Gulf of Mexico. The local area has some of the highest average annual air temperatures of the United Kingdom. In common with much of the south Cornish coast, summer daily maxima rarely exceed about 28 degrees Celsius and sub-zero temperatures and frost are uncommon in the winter. Occasional snowfalls, when they do occur, usually melt into slush within a few hours. The lower valley and beach enjoy a micro-climate being sheltered in most directions from the prevailing and other winds. For the more exposed cliff-top areas, gale-force winds are common throughout the year which occasionally cause moderate structural damage to buildings locally.

In the summer months Porthcurno is popular with families on holiday with young children who enjoy playing on the beach and perhaps some supervised bathing. In the quieter seasons visitors tend to be local people and day-trippers from other parts of Cornwall. Many tourists come from elsewhere in the United Kingdom and Europe and may have rented self-catering or bed and breakfast accommodation nearby. There is a small sub post office and general stores, open all year, at the north end of the valley and a small cafe and ice cream stand near the car park which are open during the peak season.

[edit] History

Development of the area was dominated for over one hundred years by the operations of the cable station owned by Cable and Wireless plc and its predecessor companies. Probably over 90% of the inhabitants were either employees of Cable and Wireless or were directly supported by it.

During the Second World War, Porthcurno was designated a Vulnerable Point and was heavily defended and fortified as a part of British anti-invasion preparations. Defences included pillboxes, a petroleum warfare beach flame barrage.[1]

The development of motor transport in the twentieth century and improved prosperity after the Second World War provided many with cars and made Porthcurno less than half an hour's drive from Penzance so many traveled daily from Penzance and other parts of Cornwall.

Much of the beach and surrounding shores previously owned by Cable and Wireless was donated to the National Trust in 1993 in common with many other parts of the Cornish coastline.

Most of the houses along the 'Valley' road were owned by the former Cable and Wireless Engineering College and sold off subsequent to its closure in 1993. Many of them have recently been converted to holiday flats making the population very seasonally dependent. Today the predominant industry of the area is tourism which is still quite seasonal despite recent improvements in communications and attempts to attract tourists out of season.

[edit] The Minack Theatre

Just out of sight of Porthcurno beach in the cliff face to the west is the Minack Theatre, an open air theatre with a unique stage backdrop of Porthcurno Bay and the Logan Rock headland. It is an unusual setting for plays staged during the summer months ranging from the traditional Shakespeare to the more contemporary. The Theatre is accessible on foot from the coastal footpath by a rugged path in the cliff face or more easily by road taking the steep narrow hill leaving Porthcurno to the south towards St. Levan Church and turning left at the summit. The Minack Theatre was built virtually single handedly by the late Rowena Cade who worked there into her eighties with the support of local labourers. Today the Rowena Cade exhibition centre, coffee shop and theatre are open to visitors for most of the year but the theatre largely undergoes maintenance during the winter months in preparation for the following season.

[edit] Wireless Point

The original pivoted cage which supported a 170 feet (59 m) mast and antenna erected by the Eastern Telegraph Company in 1902 at Pedn-men-an-Mere near Porthcurno to monitor wireless transmissions by Marconi from Poldhu, across Mount's Bay
The original pivoted cage which supported a 170 feet (59 m) mast and antenna erected by the Eastern Telegraph Company in 1902 at Pedn-men-an-Mere near Porthcurno to monitor wireless transmissions by Marconi from Poldhu, across Mount's Bay

A small headland to the west of the Minack Theatre called Pedn-men-an-Mere (Cornish: 'rocky headland by the sea') is known locally as 'Wireless Point'. This retains the rusted but still visible remains of the base and tether points of a wireless telegraphy antenna mast that was erected in 1902 by the Eastern Telegraph Company. It was thought that this was used to 'spy' on the early wireless transmissions by Marconi, a developer of radio, from the Poldhu cliff top about 17 miles (27 km) to the east, across Mount's Bay on the west side of the Lizard Peninsula. In those days Marconi's 'wireless telegraphy' was seen as a potential threat to the established 'cable and line telegraphy' on which Porthcurno and many local jobs depended. Much to their regret, the company mistakenly concluded that Marconi's efforts posed no threat to their cable business. However, Marconi's secretive development of the Shortwave Beam Wireless System at Poldhu would be so successful that Eastern and many other cable telegraph companies were forced into near-bankruptcy by 1928.

There is a pair of large boulders near the cliff edge of which the smaller one, weighing about 5 tonnes, can be rocked by the weight of one adult.

[edit] Porth Chapel Beach

Porth Chapel Beach from Pedn-men-an-Mere
Porth Chapel Beach from Pedn-men-an-Mere

Pedn-men-an-Mere overlooks the small secluded tidal beach of Porth Chapel to the west. Porth Chapel beach is named after the remains of a medieval chapel visible next to the footpath about 30 m above the beach. There is a spring known as the St. Levan Holy Well further up the cliffside which may be reached by ancient granite steps. The steps were covered for many years but were discovered in 1931 by the Reverend H. T. Valantine and Dr. Vernon Favel. They were restored in 2003, part of a Cornwall County Council restoration project and were opened by The Countess of Wessex.

Parish church of St Levan
Parish church of St Levan

The parish church of St Levan lies a few hundred yards up the valley to the north. There is a small car park in a field next to St Levan Church.

[edit] External links

[edit] References

[edit] Notes

  1. , Foot, 2006, p81-87

[edit] General references

  • Foot, William (2006). Beaches, fields, streets, and hills ... the anti-invasion landscapes of England, 1940. Council for British Archaeology. ISBN 1-902771-53-2. 
  • The Book of St. Levan — Crabs, Crousts and Clerks, St. Levan Local History Group, DAA Halsgrove Ltd., Tiverton, Devon EX16 6SS, UK. ISBN 1-84114-328-6.

Coordinates: 50°03'N, 5°40'W

(Source: Wikipedia)
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