Saturday 3rd November 2012
Charlestown is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful industrial settings in the world. This is no idle boast as it is a World Heritage Site that just happens to be stunningly good looking. It is a dock that has been excavated from rock to provide a safe haven for ships loading metal ores and china clay. It was built from 1791 to 1799 and was financed by Charles Rashleigh, who had mining interests, and who gave his name to the pub.
Since the Second World War it declined, mainly because of the size of the ships conveying the very high quality Cornish china clay (Kaolin) had increased and the nearby ports of Par and Fowey were rebuilt and modernised to accommodate them. Only a small number of fishing boats continued to use it.
I first visited Charlestown over thirty years ago and, even then, was amazed that such a harbour existed. I think regular shipment of clay had ceased around that time, there were certainly no ships in the dock. Nowadays it is a completely rejuvenated and is operated by the Square Sail Company which owns the harbour, and has established a ship repairing facility.
They also possess three large sailing vessels that are based in Charlestown. There were two there when we visited, sadly it was at night so I cannot show any photographs, nevertheless they looked suburb.
They were Kaskelot, built 1948 in Svendborg in Denmark to supply settlements on the eastern coast of Greenland. The name is Sperm Whale in Danish. The other was the Earl of Pembroke which was built in 1945 at Pukavik in Sweden and was originally built for the Baltic trade.
Large sailing ships were used in the Baltic to the early 1980s with several based at Mariahamm in the Åland islands between Finland and Sweden. It was built as Orion and it was given its present name because that was the original title of Captain Cook's Endeavour.
After a walk around, wife Linda and I repaired to the Rashleigh Arms and settled in the large Public Bar. This is a St Austell Brewery tied house but that was no obstacle to providing a good range of beers.
There was a great selection that consisted of year-round favourites Dartmoor (3.5%), Trelawny (3.8%), Tribute (4.2%) and the excellent Proper Job (4.5%). There was a seasonal beer, Bucket of Blood (4.5%), a red ale, and a guest beer, Skinner's Betty Stoggs (4.0%). A nice touch is that it is possible to buy three third pints of the beers as a taster.
For a public bar it was extremely comfortable indeed and there is also a large trophy cabinet containing various cups and shields won by the pub's various teams. One of the walls has a display of glass-fronted gauges from boats. There are often bands on at the weekend and there are televisions in the Public Bar showing the big matches on SkySports and EPSN.
I had a look around and the Saloon Bar was just as large as the bar we were in. Beyond that was the restaurant which is open from 12.00 to 21.00. The pub, as can be gathered, is large. It was built in 1851 on the site of former clay cellars. Interestingly, the car park is a Grade II listed site as it was previously a coal yard and is cobbled.
It is also a hotel with eight rooms that are graded four stars by the Cornish Tourist Board. It has been given many awards including the Morning Advertiser Best Managed Pub of the Year 2010.
So, no visit to Cornwall is complete until you visit Charlestown and when you are there you must call in to the Rashleigh Arms.
The Rashleigh Arms, Charlestown Road, Charlestown, Cornwall PL25 3NJ
Open: Monday to Thursday 11.00-23.00; Friday 11.00-23.30;
Saturday 11.00-24.00; Sunday 12.00-23.00
Charlestown is about two miles from St Austell where there are local trains and Inter City services to Plymouth, Exeter, Bristol, London and the North.
Western Greyhound bus routes 524 and 535 run half-hourly Monday to Saturday from St Austell, Par and Fowey during the day and hourly in the evening until almost midnight. It is hourly on Sundays but not in the evening. Most of these buses call at Church Road in Charlestown from where it is about ten minutes walk down to the harbour.