Porthtowan is a small village on the Atlantic Coast in North Cornwall, close to St. Agnes and approximately ten miles from Newquay and Newquay Cornwall Airport. The name in Cornish, means “cove of sand dunes”. It is a popular tourist destination in the summer, with its long white sandy beach stretching at low tide, past Chapel Porth to the north.
Porthtowan enjoys excellent surfing waves and holds several championships. The RNLI provide a lifeguard service during the summer months. There are excellent cliff walks to Chapel Porth, Wheal Coates Mine and Trevaunance Cove, or south to Portreath.
In Victorian and Edwardian times, Porthtowan was popular with local people from Redruth, who came to use the bathing machines and frequent the tea rooms. The village’s history is closely associated with mining and is situated within the World Heritage Site of Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape. In the middle of the village, is a former mine engine house, which is now a residence, but was once a café.
On the cliffs, south of Porthtowan, are the ruined remains of Wheal Towan, which in the 18th century, was a very prosperous copper mine. The owner, “guinea a minute”, Ralph Allen Daniell of Trelissick, is said to have acquired a fortune from this mine, estimated at over 1,000 guineas each day.
Care must be taken when walking on these cliffs. Whilst several mine shafts have protective caps, there may still be undiscovered openings amongst the heather.