Porthgwarra Ullies


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1420580

Date first listed: 31-Oct-2014

Location Description: Full NGR 137187, 21686 Alphanumeric NGR SW3718721686

Statutory Address: Porthgwarra, St. Levan, Penzance, TR19 6JR


Ordnance survey map of Porthgwarra Ullies
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Statutory Address: Porthgwarra, St. Levan, Penzance, TR19 6JR

Location Description: Full NGR 137187, 21686 Alphanumeric NGR SW3718721686

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: St. Levan

National Grid Reference: SW3718021687


Two shellfish storage tanks, constructed of granite and cement, of C19 date.

Reasons for Designation

The Ullies at Porthgwarra, Penzance, Cornwall are scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Rarity: few of these structures are known nationally, and seem to primarily have been constructed in the South-West; * Survival: the structures survive well, despite the loss of the timber covers, which were particularly vulnerable to degradation, exposed as they were to the sea air and spray; * Potential: the site has potential for adding to our understanding of the methods used by the shell-fishing industry in the C19.


A small-scale fishing industry in Porthgwarra is recorded in Elizabethan times, with a permanent community having become established by the mid-C19. A handful of families gradually moved to the cove and began to build the structures necessary to live and work. Some of the earliest buildings are Rowe’s Cottages, designated at Grade II, dating from the mid-C19. Further buildings and structures with domestic and industrial functions continued to be built until the early C20.

The slipway is the dominant feature of the cove, providing a route from the hamlet to the beach. The lower section was constructed in c.1880 from large granite slabs, and has been extended up the hill latterly in tarmac and concrete replacing gravel. The cove was further developed around this time with the drilling out of two tunnels to give improved access to the beach. The shorter tunnel gave access to the lower eastern side of the cove, near the late-C19 ‘ullies’, which are shellfish storage baths or wells constructed using the large granite rocks on the foreshore. At low tide, fishermen took their shellfish catches in wicker baskets, or ‘maunes’, through the tunnel to the ullies (storage baths) where they were emptied and kept alive in the tidal waters for several days until they were sold.

The last working fishermen at Porthgwarra retired in the 1960s, and the cove has been used for recreational activities since then.


Two late-C19 shellfish storage baths, constructed of granite blocks cemented together, and with iron hinges that formerly were attached to timber lids.

The two baths, known locally as ‘ullies’, are irregular on plan and between 1.5 and 2m in length and width. The wells are approximately 1.8m deep. They are located on the low tide line, approximately 5m apart. Some spaces have been left between the rocks to allow the tidal waters to flow in and out. They were created by moving rocks into position and cementing them into place.


Books and journals
Gendall, C, Porthgwarra, (1999)

End of official listing