Cornwall Council has awarded £656,047 from the government’s Shared Prosperity Fund to assist in regenerating the lockgate which forms a key part of the historic World Heritage Site of Charlestown Harbour. 

The UK’s last open 18th-century Georgian harbour, Charlestown is of great local, national, and international importance and of high heritage significance. The lockgate is its most important element, linking it with the open waters of the Atlantic.  

The gate protects the inner harbour and the vessels moored therein from the elements, enabling harbour operations all year round. In the summer months, it also protects the seasonal local businesses and enables safe public access.  

The lockgate was installed in 1971, and maintenance was lacking prior to current ownership in 2018. 

It has undergone regular repair since changing hands, but sadly, the historical damage was done, and exacerbated in 2021 by Storm Darcy.  

The gate now leaks significantly, and there is a “palpable risk” of the collapse of the inner harbour walls, as the weight of water is core to holding the historic walls in place. 

The regeneration project is therefore crucial and will repair various elements including the bearings and the seal, extending the use of the lockgate for some 15 years plus. 

Cllr Louis Gardner, cabinet member responsible for the economy on Cornwall Council said: “This project to restore a vital feature of Charlestown Harbour is a perfect fit for SPF funding, both preserving a historical feature for future generations and helping an emerging centre of economic activity to thrive. 

“The harbour has a been a melting pot of economic growth for hundreds of years, initially through its port operations and now through retail, hospitality and an increasing cultural offering.” 

Colette Pearce, general manager for Charlestown Harbour, said: “The harbour is the reason people visit Charlestown. If it were to be devoid of water, and therefore ships, due to a non-functional lockgate, people would no longer visit.  

“We are therefore absolutely thrilled to have been awarded a grant from the Shared Prosperity Fund, and very much look forward to being able to welcome more visiting vessels into Charlestown Harbour.”  

The start date and duration of the work has yet to be confirmed.     

St Austell and Newquay MP Steve Double said: “Charlestown Harbour is a real success story in these challenging times – a vibrant and exciting visitor destination, not just for people from around St Austell, but also across Cornwall and around the world.  

“It is also a World Heritage Site, and it is important we protect this historic place, not just as a destination for local people and visitors to enjoy, but as an important part of our local china clay heritage and history. 

“I was pleased to support this successful bid from Charlestown Harbour and look forward to seeing the gates refurbished to allow people and harbour users continued full access to enjoy all it has to offer.” 

The Cornwall councillor for the area, James Mustoe, said: “Charlestown Harbour is a key location for people from around St Austell and further afield and holds many memories for all of us, both in its industrial past, its role on screen in many films and tv shows, and many more personal experiences.  

“My wife and I have wonderful memories of having our wedding photos taken on the current harbour gates 10 years ago. 

“I look forward to seeing the gates replaced and the harbour preserved for ours and many more generations to come.”