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Charlestown Harbour

Situated on the outskirts of St. Austell on the south coast of Cornwall is Charlestown Harbour, the base for Square Sail. Owned and operated by the Company, it is an unspoilt, original Grade II Listed Harbour. The village of Charlestown is also part of a World Heritage Site.

History of the harbour

Built in the late 1700s by Charles Rashleigh, the harbour was developed to service the then thriving fishing and China Clay trades. However, gradually over time these trades slowly declined and the harbour was hardly used by the early 1990s. Square Sail has owned the Harbour and beaches since 1994, generating new interest and breathing life into the Port when it became home to our Company.

Charlestown Harbour is actually two harbours – inner and outer.  The inner harbour has constant water levels and is fed by the original 18th century, 7 mile system of man-made waterways which ends in two large reservoir ponds situated to the north of the village.  From the ponds, a system of sluice gates feed the water into the inner harbour when required.  The inner and outer harbours are separated by an unusual lock gate system – instead of double gates opening in or out (as most traditional lock gates do), the harbour has one lock gate which descends horizontally to a pit below the harbour floor level to allow ships in or out.

The outer harbour is tidal and protected on the west side by a granite mole. The Harbour opens directly into the sea, St. Austell Bay. Both the east and west beaches are open to the public – sorry no dogs allowed.  Please note, if filming is taking place in and around the Harbour, public access to the beaches may be restricted or prohibited during that time.

Using the harbour

If you are a yacht or classic boat owner and would like to discuss bringing your vessel to Charlestown either on a temporary or permanent/winter berth basis please see our Lay-up section for further information.