Sea Road at Carlyon Bay is a private residential road running parallel to the coastline behind and to the west of the beaches at Carlyon Bay. Before 1925, the entire cliff top area now occupied by Sea Road was open fields. Beach Road (at least as far as its junction with the eastern end of Sea Road) had been a highway before 1835 and continued across the open ground occupied now by the golf course and on to Par village. A track from Beach Road led away down to the beach at Crinnis, with a footpath following much the same line as the present South West Coast Path along to the old Appletree Copper Mine and Charlestown to the west and to Spit Point in the east.
The five-star St Austell Bay Hotel (now the Carlyon Bay Hotel) became very popular with the rich and famous, including royalty such as the then Edward, Prince of Wales and his future wife Mrs Wallis Simpson. This photo of a fire at the hotel was sent in to us but the sender had no details of when it happened. But a local resident has now told us that it was in 1938 and she remembers her grandfather being affected - he used to supply milk to the hotel from the family farm and the order was cancelled for a while because of the fire. He remembered going to the hotel and seeing furniture being thrown out of the windows to save it from the flames.
By 1929, the Porth Avallen Hotel (then a private house) was built by a Mrs Howell of Lostwithiel towards the western end of the road. With other property development in mind, the road was extended level with the north-western boundary of the house. The Porth Avallen, which became a guest house and then a hotel after the war, was sold as a hotel in about 1960.
The land on which all of these properties was built, including the road area, belonged to the old Carlyon Estate; passed on to the company that developed the land and on its liquidation to St Austell Bay Estates Ltd, which sold to Huntley Estates Ltd. Huntley Estates built most of the bungalows at the western end of Sea Road. In the mid 1930s, now officially named Sea Road, the road was cut right through to meet Beach Road at Campdowns near the present-day Charlestown School, although there were almost no dwellings built on this section until well after the Second World War.
Since its first development west from the two main hotels, the road has been private, and owners of properties purchased the appropriate section of road as part of their frontage. Pre-war there were no annual road closures and the right of way was respected generally as being that of occupants only. With a reduced amount of road traffic, the surface of the original road (which was concrete up to the boundary of the Porth Avallen Hotel) lasted well into the late 1940s in reasonable repair. But in the 1950s and early 1960s it developed deep rutting and potholes. The newer section was tarmac and lasted somewhat better.
Mr Gilbert Pearce, a solicitor, who lived in Cliff House, researched the history of the road at one time and was responsible for the original large 'Private Road' notices at both ends of the road. In the mid 1960s, the poor condition of the road surface was made good by the late Mr Hamilton Crotty and it was completely resurfaced in 1980.
We are keen to know more about the history of Sea Road and the Carlyon Bay area in general, so if anyone has any more information we would welcome any contributions. You can email us at the address below or write.
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