Porthcurno is a small village in the parish of St. Levan located in a valley on the south coast of the county of Cornwall, England. It is approximately 9 miles (14 km) to the west of the market town of Penzance and about 3 miles (4.8 km) from Land's End, the most westerly point of the English mainland. Access by road is only available from the north end of the valley along an 'unclassified' spur road off the B3283 'B' class road. The village is also accessible on foot by the South West Coast Path, being about two hours walk from Land's End or about four hours walk from Penzance for experienced cliff walkers.
Development of the area was dominated for over one hundred years by the operations of the cable station owned by Cable and Wireless plc and its predecessor companies. Probably over 90% of the inhabitants were either employees of Cable and Wireless or were directly supported by it.
During the Second World War, Porthcurno was designated a Vulnerable Point and was heavily defended and fortified as a part of British anti-invasion preparations. At the beginning of the war a small guard of special constables was put on duty at the cable office and cable house, later superseded by a platoon of soldiers who camped on a former bowling green. Porthcurno valley was declared a protected place and as many as 300 troops were deployed in the immediate area to guard the station. Passes were issued to residents and visitors who had business to be in the area and many mock attacks were staged. The defences included pillboxes and a petroleum warfare beach flame barrage which could be operated remotely from the tunnel. At the end of the War, although some 867 bombs fell in the (Penzance) area and 3957 houses were damaged or destroyed, the only damage suffered by any communications equipment at Porthcurno was the destruction of an antenna when a bomb fell at Rospletha Farm, located at the top of the hill about half a mile to the west of the cable office.
Most of the houses along the valley were owned by the former Cable and Wireless Engineering College and sold off subsequent to its closure in 1993. Many of them have been converted to holiday flats making the population very seasonally dependent. Today the major industry in the area is tourism.
Church of St Levan
The parish church of St Levan lies a few hundred yards up the valley to the north, adjoined by a graveyard and a small car park in a field.
For further information of a genealogical nature and local administration links, see the parish of St. Levan.