Small village with a huge beach
Tywardreath & Par Parish Council
Par is a village situated about 3.5 miles east of St. Austell and on the A3082. South of the village is Par Harbour and the wide beach of Par Sands, a further small beach can be found at Spit Point beyond the harbour. Between these two beaches the South West Coast Path is forced to take an inland diversion through the village along the main road. The population of the village was 3,192 at the 2011 census.
The Anglican church of St. Mary the Virgin at Biscovey was completed in 1849. It was built mainly from the local reddish coloured Biscovey slates.
The harbour development saw the expansion of the village which split away from the parish of St. Blazey to the north in the mid-19th century. The arrival of the railway from Plymouth in 1859 encouraged further expansion north-eastwards towards Tywardreath. The boundaries between the three parishes are now somewhat indistinct.
During Victorian times when the port was prospering their was a large lead smelter, a brickworks, a timber yard, a saw mill and a flour mill all working here.
Par lies in a triangle of streets which form a one-way traffic system. There are a variety of shops, a post office, a pub, a library and other businesses.
Par Sands Holiday Park occupies all of the area behind the beach and sand dunes but allows public access to the car parks and beach.
The town's extensive docks were built in the 19th century and served to export china clay until 2006, mainly for use in paper-making. It is no coincidence that railway lines reach here too, and an illuminating insight into the local quarrying and mining industry over the last 200 years can be found at the Wheal Martyn Museum near St. Austell. Today the harbour cannot accommodate large ocean going ships and all the clay for export is transported along the private haul road to Fowey Docks. The harbour at Par is operated by the French mineral extraction company Imerys.
China clay was discovered in the mid 18th century, by the chemist William Cookworthy, and by the 1850's, some 7,000 men, women and children were employed in the St. Austell clay district in the extraction, processing, transportation and export of the clay. Since the harbour silted up the docks have been much run down, and now only employs a few people.
At the western end of Par's sandy beach, the industrial china clay buildings connected to the dock are somewhat incongruous, but in general it's a pleasant, family and dog friendly beach. The village is also only two miles from the now internationally famed Eden Project, which is easily reached on foot via the lush greenery of the Luxulyan Valley.
Between Par and Fowey is the charming, and unusually verdant, Gribbin peninsula with its red and white striped beacon built in 1832 and commanding views of the adjoining coastline. This headland provides a prominent landmark for walkers on the coastpath. The small cove of Polkerris is perhaps now more familiar to beach lovers than fishermen, though the village itself remains fairly unchanged. The Rashleigh Inn here takes its name from local landowners, the Rashleigh family, and their house Menabilly, where Daphne du Maurier spent time and set her novel, Rebecca, she later lived at Kilmarth, also nearby.
The village started as a small group of houses below a cliff overlooking the mouth of the small River Par that was crossed by a ferry. Joseph Treffry purchased the ferry and replaced it with a bridge in 1824.
Par Canal ran inland for about one mile, with three locks, from a tramroad at Pontsmill to Par harbour. It opened in 1847 for the carriage of tin, lead ore and china clay trans-shipped in containers onto boats from a tramway. Joseph Treffry started construction of a harbour in 1829 near the mouth of the river, and the harbour was completed in 1840. A 450 feet breakwater encloses 35 acres of water but it has always been tidal with only 16 feet depth of water so cannot handle the large ocean-going ships seen at Fowey. The railway line that connected Par to Fowey and opened in 1874 was converted to a private surfaced road in 1968 to enable lorries to continue transporting the china clay to Fowey Docks, a process which continues to this day. The last clay ship left Par in November 2008.
The harbour developed a range of industrial facilities including a lead smelter with a 248-foot high chimney known as Par Stack. This was used as a navigation aid by shipping until it was demolished in 1907.
A Brick Works was started at Par after the First World War using harbour mud mixed with china clay waste and many houses of the period were made with Par Bricks.
In 1865 the SS 'Wearmouth' was wrecked on Par Sands.
The church of The Good Shepherd in Par Green was built in 1896 and the total cost of £850 met by Bishop John Gott, the third Bishop of Truro.
The railway main line rises up over the tramway on a five arch granite viaduct on its way to St. Austell. A siding was opened down to the harbour from the west end of the viaduct on 13th February 1860. The hump-backed bridge in Par Green which carries the A3082 was demolished and widened in 1972. Par railway station which opened in 1859 is still open on the Cornish main line from Plymouth to Penzance. It is the site of the junction for the Atlantic Coast Line to Newquay. Par station is the destination of many specially organised charter trains for visitors to the Eden Project, which is located nearby.
The Saints' Way also just touches the edge of the village beside The Ship Inn at Polmear.
Reuben Chappell (1870-1940) is one of the country's best known ship portrait artists. He originated in Goole, Yorkshire where he painted British and foreign vessels that came up the Humber. In 1904 he moved to Par, (the house in Par Green still has a plaque remembering him), where he continued to paint the many vessels that visited the china clay ports.
Par Carnival - mid July.
Par Sands Beach Cafe
Yummy Scrummy Bakery
The Welcome Home Inn
The Par Inn
The Ship Inn
The Royal Inn
The Britannia Inn
The Cornish Arms - closed 1998
Charlestown Fowey Golant Luxuylan Valley Polkerris St. Austell Tywardreath Par Market
Hidden Valley Gardens Marsh Villa Gardens The Eden Project Tregrehan Garden The Clay Trails St. Blazey
Wingz Bird & Animal Sanctuary The Coastal Footpath Cornwall's Beaches Kidzworld Cornwall's China Clay Industry