My day out: Charlestown Shipwreck and Heritage Centre

For the very first time the Shipwreck and Heritage Centre in Charlestown were trialling a winter opening from Tuesday to Thursday in January, so I wanted to show my support. There is a limited number of all weather attractions open in winter, so if there is a good take-up of visitors then this will hopefully increase to Friday and Saturday openings as well.

A varied collection of shipwreck memorabilia has been built up over 50 years. I was curious to see what impact, if any, has been made since it was bought by Sir Tim Smit who vowed to protect its heritage.

The enthusiasm of the staff really made the visit special - Kristen and Kevin provided a great customer experience. To me, the most interesting displays were the ones relevant to Cornwall where I actually knew the places some of the archives had come from. The displays are enormously varied, spanning more than 500 years - so make sure to take time working through them all. There is work ongoing to update many of the displays, and there is also plans for a new portrait museum. 

Most of the centre is wheelchair accessible, and dogs are welcome on leads. It’s a very family-friendly attraction, with several activity sheets available for children of all ages to complete. If your children takes part in the Children’s University Passport to Learning scheme then you are able to collect a stamp here.

There is a restaurant at the centre called Loveday’s, but unfortunately this is closed in winter. However there are several other lovely places to eat around the harbour in Charlestown. The staff at the Shipwreck Centre recommended ‘Short & Strong’, a Cornish deli and cafe, and we weren’t disappointed - sharing a hot toasted sandwich followed by an amazing banoffee waffle.

My top tips for visiting:

  • The Shipwreck and Heritage Centre does not have its own car park. If you arrive early then you might be lucky to grab a free space on the road, otherwise there is a car park in the village just a few minutes walk away.
  • You’re likely to spend one to two hours at the centre, but add on some extra time for a tasty lunch in Charlestown.
  • Check the website for opening time, as it can vary.
  • The centre is looking to put prices down from March 2019, this doesn’t happen in many attractions so make the most of it.
  • Don’t forget to collection the children’s trails - we did well finding the ship’s cat!
  • The only toilet is upstairs in the centre, which is closed in winter. There is a public toilet in the village car park though.

About the author: Alison is a holiday home specialist and visited Charlestown Shipwreck and Heritage Centre in January 2019.