Both our restaurant and rooms will be receiving a full transformation over the next six months, with the Harbourside also taking on a top-secret makeover! Before the project fully gets underway, we’re catching up with Paul, our resident archivist, and Caroline, our interior designer manager, to find out a little more about what we can expect from the pub next.
What is the inspiration behind the development of the Pier House?
The Pier House is such an important asset to our pub portfolio, and we wanted to ensure we have it the love and attention it deserves. The disastrous fire only expedited this, and we’re really forward to elevating the experience for our guests, both in the pub and rooms above.
In terms of the design brief and interiors, given the Pier House’s location and proximity to the coast, we wanted to reflect all that is above and below the sea. Throughout the refurb, you’ll find all the textures and colours of the coastal path.
What can guests expect to find upon reopening?
We’ll be sensitively exposing the history of the building showcasing the grandeur of the structure and how it’s been used over the years. There will be a dedicated restaurant area, lots of cosy nooks to sit and watch the world go by, and a lovely new bar, fully stocked with our fantastic range of award-winning beers!
The rooms are also receiving a massive makeover, with the introduction of new textures and materials to reflect our surroundings. Each will be curated will luxury in mind, serving as the perfect home away from home to make the very most of your stay in Charlestown.
What development at the Pier House are you most excited about?
I’m most excited about the bar and how we’re planning on opening up the ground floor to create a more inviting space. Within the design, there are a lot of ‘nods’ to the structure of boats, and a really considered use of materials that will act as a link between this building and the history of the area.
What impact will this have on the pub and the Charlestown community?
The Pier House has always been hugely important to us, and the local community, so despite the fact that it will be sorely missed during the refurbishment, it will have such a positive impact when we do reopen. A space for everyone to use and enjoy, that will be around for many, many years to come.
How long will the development take and what is the process?
The project is due to be completed in about six months’ time – we’ll be looking to reopen early summer of 2024. The team are very excited to welcome you back, and we’re sure it’ll be a fantastic summer season.
When was the Pier House built and who by?
In 1791, Charles Rashleigh, then of Duporth Manor, commissioned the great engineer John Smeaton to build a harbour and dock to be primarily used to transport copper from Rashleigh’s nearby mines. Above the harbour, a village was planned and built that was coupled with Mount Charles via a broad tree-lined avenue. In 1799, the locals renamed the village Charles’ Town, in honour of its founder.
Originally known as the Charlestown Hotel, the Pier House was built in c. 1794 as a hotel or boarding house. By 1800, it had an adjoining malthouse (lost in a storm in 1880) which processed the raw ingredients used to brew beer for their own trade and to see to ships.
In an 1808 traveller’s guide to Cornwall, the building was described as a ‘commodious hotel’.
How long has St Austell managed the property?
The Pier House has a long list of previous landlords trading throughout the 20th century, with the hotel remaining in the ownership of the Charlestown estate until it was acquired by the Morcom family in 1986. They successfully ran the business until 2016 when it was acquired by St Austell Brewery.
Can you tell us a bit more about Charlestown’s maritime history?
For centuries, West Polmear was a small fishing village that busied itself with the catching and processing of pilchards. Records show that its population rarely rose above double figures, however by the end of the 18th century the village was transformed into a thriving mineral port with a large population, supporting a dangerous maritime trade. The harbour was originally built to transport copper, but as copper supplies dwindled, the port shifted to manage, process and transport China clay around the globe.
In 1994, the harbour was bought by Square Sail as a base for their sailing ships. With the tall ships and historic surroundings, Charlestown became a popular film destination for programmes such as Poldark. In 1976, the Pier House itself was used in a scene from ‘The Eagle Has Landed’ – fleetingly renamed the ‘Bell and Dragon’, during the film the character, Liam Devlin, played by Donal Sutherland, is thrown through the pub window during a fight – though you certainly won’t see such dramas in the pub today!