Early maps show that Par Bay was much larger than it is today with the sea
extending right up to St. Blazey and Twywardreath.
Polmear, meaning ‘Big or Great Pool’, was first named in 1584.
There have been alms-houses at the bottom of Polmear Hill since 1645.
It is thought that a landing or small harbour may have stood on the area where The Ship now stands.
Daphne Du Maurier in ’The House On The Strand’ imagined the scene through the character of Dick Young:
“When I came to the edge of the cliff and looked beneath me, where the road should be, the inn, the cafe, the alms-houses at the base of Polmear hill, I realised that the sea swept inland here as well, forming a creek that cut to the east, into the valley.”
The Ship Inn dates from the eighteenth century and must have been a welcome addition to the growing Polmear village.
Later maps show quarries behind the inn and a blacksmith’s shop next door.
There was a ferry that crossed the estuary but, due to the silting-up of the bay by the earth and residue of mining in and around Par, it was stopped at the end of the eighteenth century. The Old Par Bridge was constructed in 1824 and the building of Par Harbour began in 1829 and was completed in 1847, mainly shipping China Clay and granite while importing coal. Not much is known about the early days of the Ship Inn.
The 1861 census shows the publican to be ,Edward Hewett,who was not only a House Carpenter but also a beer retailer.
In 1889 the beer retailer was James Pearce and Walter House was the landlord from 1923 into the 1950’s.
Today the landlord is Chris Giles, who has recently celebrated his twelfth anniversary at the inn.
The early twentieth century saw the development of Par Sands for recreation and leisure with the addition of bathing huts, tennis courts, a model boat pool, bowling greens and a café.
The image below was taken by local photographer Kathleen Rundell in the 1920’s.
Par Harbour stopped shipping China Clay in 2007.
The Cornish poet Bert Biscoe wrote:
‘The faceless declare in boardroom
Monotones: ‘The Port of Par
Will close, Par Dries will go cold’…
The oldest men, forgotten in the corner
Of the Ship, behind their domino walls
Lost in their euchre school look up –
They know: they heard from father’s gone-on
Of the thirties when prices were low,
When pit fought pit, when tables were empty.’
Much of the above has been gleaned from ‘Par Excellence – A History of Par ‘ by Derek G. Reynolds and published by the Par Old Cornwall Society.
If you have any other pictures or information about The Ship Inn please let us know through the contact page of this site.
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