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Porth Byhan or The Harbour in a Boxfile

This was my first attempt at building a layout. Inspired by a winter's afternoon visit to Mevagissy, I wanted to replicate the small harbour and close-by buildings. However, I also wanted the layout to be in a boxfile, where the lid could also be shut...

An excerpt from A Traveller's Guide to Cornwall

Porth Byhan Harbour

Walking down the main street from the town centre, we enter the quite inner harbour at Porth Byhan past one of the oldest buildings in the town, the Lugger Inn. This 15th Century public house is similar in style to the more famous Sloop Inn at St Ives. A Free House, the Lugger serves local St Austell brewery ales, plus has several guest ales each week. There is also accommodation for the weary traveller, in the quaint oak beamed rooms above the bar.

Next to the Lugger stands the old Custom House building. At the turn of the 17th Century, Porth Byhan was a major fishing port in Cornwall, but the locals were known to be not always accurate with their taxes. The Custom House also served as the first Police Station in Porth Byhan, and today is still a government building.

Old Pascoe's cottage stands next to the Custom House. Denzil Pascoe was a well known fisherman in the Town, as famous for his exploits on the sea as those off it. Many is the time he would be seen (and heard!) wending his way home from one of the hostelries, having drunk most of his companions under the table. But out on the sea there was no better mariner or fisherman. He knew the waters around Porth Byhan, and indeed those from Penzance to Looe, with unrivalled intimacy and was never known to return to harbour with an empty hold.

The last building on this side of the harbour is the workshops and boat repair shed of Bob 'Spider' Webb. As is typical of most of the Cornish harbours, boat repair is an important industry, as the seas are unforgiving in their relentless intensity. Bob Webb & Son are the latest owners of this business, and provide the same level of quality service that Cornish craftsmen are renowned for the world over.

As we leave Webb's behind us, we now turn right on to the New Quay, although the quay and wall is now over 200 years old. Built to enclose the inner harbour, you will often see fishing nets hung on the wall to dry and for repair.

As we look across the boat ramp and the narrow inlet to the inner harbour from the New Quay, we see what's been called locally 'Railway Quay'.

At the landward end of this quay is the largest building at the harbour, the old coaching inn which was once known as the Penlan Arms. This had an archway under which the coaches could be stopped to allow passengers to enter the building directly.

When the railway arrived at Porth Byhan, the line from the station was extended down to the harbour and along the existing quay side in front of the Custom House. However, the amount of fishing trade increased to such an extent that a second siding was required, and the only option was to build a new wharf into the harbour with a rail line passing through the coaching inn passage. The inn was closed, and the building converted into the Fish Market. The railway Quay is still a hive of activity, with the surface covered in fish boxes, nets, rope and all the other paraphernalia that goes with the fishing industry.