derives its Cornish name from its most obvious feature its sandy beaches
and dunes (towans). It owes its present day character to its popularity as
a local seaside resort in Victorian and Edwardian times when the local
populous from Redruth and the surrounding areas flocked here, particularly
on bank holidays. Today's conveniently placed shops and tourist amenities
have their roots in this period when a handful of bathing machines served
the adventurous swimmers of the day, most people then being content merely
to take tea after a walk on the cliffs. The cliff walks are still
splendid, but there is now much more to Porthtowan than just tea rooms!
Overlooking Porthtowan are the remains of Wheal Towan, one of Cornwall's
most celebrated 18th century copper mines and scene of a fortune amassed
by Ralph Allen Daniell of Trelissick, "guinea a minute" Daniell his
reputed income night and day.
In 1897 the wreck of the
Rose of Devon left a lasting scar on the locality, bodies of dead sailors
being buried in the cemetery at nearby Mount Hawke where a Cornish cross
now marks the sad event.
One local folk
tale tells of a voice from the sea. "The hour is come but not the man." A
ghostly figure spotted at the top of a nearby hill, in response to the
call, rushed down and vanished beneath the waves. Mount Hawke is the
country cousin to Porthtowan 11 miles inland. Founded on mining and
agriculture, and once, local centre for rope making, the village has
become popular in the last 20 years Several lovely wooded walks are
possible from here.