Words by Trevor Osborne.
Porthleven was famous first as the most southerly port in Great Britain, a harbour of refuge when this part of Cornwall was infamous for wrecks. It’s come a long way since then; today it’s a vibrant Cornish village and popular year-round destination for visitors.
You don’t have to look far to find people waxing lyrical about Porthleven’s charms, from the Bickford Smith Tower, that iconic image of the village which dominates paintings and photographs, to the picturesque harbour full of boats, with its huge timber baulks which protect the inner harbour and guarantee safe moorings. It’s much more than this though, Porthleven is a real community. People are proud to be Porthleveners, and there are many local families, long-standing businesses and village characters – even a famous Porthleven cat, Regggie – which make it such a friendly, welcoming place which visitors return to again and again.
Porthleven has changed over the years, there are undoubtedly more holiday cottages and restaurants, facilities for the visitors who keep the village alive and flourishing year-round. Visit Cornwall’s website describes it as ‘fast gaining a reputation as a centre for great art and great eating’. It has not stood still, but continues to evolve appropriately (children and dogs always welcome, but no fast food chains here) and respond to the needs of locals and guests alike. This appeal has allowed it to weather the pandemic and the recent economic challenges.
Over the almost half century which I have owned the Porthleven Harbour & Dock Company, I’ve come in for criticism for building projects and innovations and there have been more than a few battles, and they continue today as I present new plans. As I reflect on this ownership, I would like us to embrace the journey and move forward together: “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change,” Guiseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, The Leopard.
A planned public consultation will be held early in the New Year where interested parties will be able to review these future plans.