The Gannel is a tidal river. Although no longer navigable, in the past, schooners and lighters (barges) were poled or rowed up the river channel on the incoming tide, carrying coal, timber or sand to Trevemper Bridge where it was distributed inland.
In 1838, the East Wheel Rose Mine started discharging mine waste into the river, causing mine silting and black slimes to coat the once clean river bed. Complaints were made to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty that, because of the silting, the river was becoming ever more difficult to navigate and getting up the river was only possible on the highest tide. Because the silting has continued, we can only assume that their complaints fell on deaf ears.
From where the stone walling ends and the bank is cut back further from the rest, at the height of Newquay's fishing past, pilchard and mackerel boats were once moored out of the fishing season.
This was also the site of the Gannel Shipyard, where many ships were built, by the Clemens family. The last, ironically, named the Triumph in 1872. Can you see the remains of a rowing boat leaning against the bank?
Behind this was situated a Steam Box. This was used to make supple the long wooden planks, ready for fixing to the sides of the ships. Further along is a flattened area, once a dock. This was the Reeds boatyard, just two of many boat building yards that operated around the town between 1849 and 1906.
Penpol Creek was where Horatio Thatcher moored both his museum ships. The first Ada was a two-mastered schooner which started life carrying coal before ending up home to a museum of curios. During the second world war, American servicemen, stationed further along Penpol Creek, would pay a shilling to see the exhibits and at the peak of its popularity, the Ada saw as many as one hundred visitors per day. One day, in 1940, the pilot of a German plan saw the Ada sitting low in the water and believing her to be full of something for the British war effort, dropped three bombs on her before being chased by one of our boys in blue. It was announced on the radio that 'A German bomber successfully bombed a heavenly ladened schooner on the river Gannel. This must have surely been propaganda, because the bombs missed the 'Ada' and landed in the field behind Trethellan Farm. Her end finally came in 1951. Having been sold for £40, much of her pitched pine decks were removed, before she was set alight. The Ada burned for two weeks.
Walking at dusk on a warm summer evening can be both a beautiful and mysterious experience, as the Gannel estuary is another area of Newquay that is believed to be haunted. The legendary Gannel Crake often cries out to weary travellers. Its eeyrie and haunting sound, has been likened to the cry of a tortured human soul or the death cry of an animal as it becomes victim to its fate.
On your way to Mount Wise, see if you can find Newquay's original Fire Station Bell.
Text taken from The Newquay Discovery Trail co-ordinated by the Newquay Chamber of Commerce. Full illustrated copies can be obtained from the Tourist Information Centre
A Newquay Tourism Enhancement Project funded by European Regional Development Fund, The Government's Single Regeneration Budget, Restormel Borough Council and Newquay Town Council