Charlestown said goodbye to its last clay boat in December 1999 and the most recent casualty was Par in 2007. Fowey, with its deep water harbour and jetties, which can accommodate large ocean-going vessels, remains as Cornwall’s last clay port.
Since 1986, when the Crowder family sold their Charlestown Estate, the village has had several owners, most notably ‘Square Sail’ which bought the harbour in 1991 and from where it operates a fleet of 3 lovely square rigged ‘tall ships’ which over the years, using the harbour and village as a backdrop, have been used for numerous film productions – the latest being Alice in Wonderland.
Much has changed and a great deal has been lost over the last two centuries but much has remained largely unchanged, illustrated by the following 2 extracts from the ‘Charlestown Historical and Archaeological Assessment’ produced by Cornwall Archaeological Unit in 1998.
‘A combination of many factors makes Charlestown a unique settlement. It is one of the best examples of late 18th century and early 19th century harbour works in Britain’.
‘Nowhere else in Cornwall is it possible to step so immediately into the ambience of an early 19th century working port. The underlying reason for this circumstance is the continuity of ownership by two successive landlords from 1784 to 1986.’
This uniqueness was recognised in 2006 by UNESCO when Charlestown was inscribed as a World Heritage Site as part of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape, and it is worth noting that World Heritage Sites are chosen by UNESCO for their ‘Outstanding Universal Value’.
In March 2013 Cornwall Council adopted the Charlestown Conservation Area Character Appraisal and Management Plan.