The harbour of St Ives

Life at St Ives has traditionally revolved around its harbour. Here, up to about the time of the First World War, were to be seen the town’s large fleets of mackerel and pilchard luggers, coasting vessels loading or discharging cargoes, seine boats arriving from Porthminster deeply laden with silvery fish; and all the bustle and activity associated with a prosperous seaport and fishing town.

Today, the scene has vastly changed, yet the harbour remains the focal point of St Ives. Nearly all the fishing boats have gone, their places taken by gaily painted pleasure craft, whilst the sand, once grimy with coal, is now a clean golden bathing beach. Many regret the change, but it was inevitable with the decline in the fishing industry; and St Ives is at least fortunate in having a type of harbour that has adapted so well to meet new circumstances.

As early as the sixteenth century St Ives was the chief port of departure in the west for passage to Ireland, and there are several entries in the old Borough Accounts relating to this traffic. Thus in 1592: ‘paide William Ots to pay for 2 passengers bounde to Irelande whiche weare hosted at water treweks 3s.4d.’ ‘Paide to a man of Irelande that had his barke stollen by pirats 1s.’ 1604: ‘paide to a poore souldier that came from Irelande 3d.’ The importance of this sea-link with Ireland is shown also in a by-law passed in 1619, which decreed that ‘All yrishmen landing hencforth ther loades or Burden of tymber [are to pay] ijs.ijd. & ballaste of Sand to be taken at this charge if they liste to take it.’

No contemporary description of the harbour has survived, but it is known that prior to 1766 the pier ran out from Carn Glaze (the site of the present Fishermen’s Co-operative Stores). It appears to have been of simple construction, probably consisting of timber piles driven in the sand, with a rubble filling. The maintenance of this pier and the clearance of sand from the harbour imposed at times a severe strain on the very limited borough finances.

The harbour began to take on something of its present appearance in 1770, when a new pier was constructed to the design of John Smeaton, the great civil engineer. This was built out from the Castle Rocks, the old pier being at the same time demolished and the Wharf constructed. Though only about half its present length, Smeaton’s Pier sheltered a much greater extent of water than its predecessor did, and so accommodated the growing trade and fishing industry of the town. This growth in the years following the building of the pier is best illustrated by the annual amounts of harbour dues collected by the Trustees, which rose from £593 in 1770 to £1280 in 1814 and to £1824 by 1836.

In 1837 St Ives, very unwisely, was declared a free port, and dues ceased to be collected – a measure that resulted in unavoidable delay in carrying out further improvements.

In 1844, 165 coasting merchant vessels having a gross tonnage of 9723 arrived in the port of St Ives. By comparison, during the same year, 856 vessels arrived at Hayle, these having a tonnage of 65,979. But what was more important at St Ives was the fishing industry; in 1847 the capital invested in the pilchard fisheries was in excess of £150,000, with 400 boats and 735 men employed, whilst a further 100 men were engaged in other types of fishing.

Imports from within Britain were coal, iron and general merchandise and from abroad timber; exports within Britain were fish and copper ore, and abroad, fish and tin. Sailing vessels belonging to the port totalled 8994 tons, with a few steamers totalling 498 tons.

In 1864 work was begun on an outer harbour by erecting the New or Wood Pier at the seaward side of Smeaton’s structure, and running roughly at right angles to it. Its timber frame failed to stand up to the buffeting of the Atlantic rollers, however, and in less than twenty years it had become an almost complete wreck. Today little more than its short masonry stump remains. The failure of this project brought on an acute crisis, the harbour being desperately overcrowded with the ever-increasing fleet of fishing vessels. This situation reached its climax in 1886, with the so-called Tresidder’s riot among the fishermen.

Eventually, in 1888-90 the position was relieved by adding a lengthy extension to Smeaton’s Pier. The shorter West Pier was built in 1894 as a loading jetty for roadstone from the Carthew and Orange Lane quarries. Finally, around 1922 the Wharf Road was constructed from the lifeboat house to Chy-an-Chy, affording much needed relief to Fore Street, which previously had to carry all the traffic.

Since then, St Ives has ceased to be a seaport, whilst its fishing fleet has dwindled to extinction. These events have brought about great changes in the town itself. The smoke houses for curing, the great pilchard cellars, the barking houses for tanning nets, and the net factory have all gone, either swept away to make room for modern developments, or converted to new uses. The last St Ives pilchard cellar, in Norway Lane, was cleared out in 1968-69, much of its equipment being transferred to the St Ives Museum at Wheal Dream. Yet with all these changes, ‘Downlong’, the old fishing quarter, still retains a great deal of its atmosphere, the narrow alleyways and picturesque cottages proving a never-failing delight to artists, photographers and holiday-makers.

Splendid Septembers at the Blue Mist studios

The Blue Mist studio can be found in one of the most historic parts of St Ives. Looking for great views of the harbour? You can get it with this open plan studio. Situated in The Warren, one of the most scenic spots of the seaside town, the studio has magnificent views and if you are coming for a romantic getaway, this is the perfect hideaway from which you can explore the things to do and places to visit in St Ives, or sit back and enjoy the scenic sights of the town.

The Blue Mist studio is not only close to the galleries, shops and restaurants of the town, but is well within walking distance of a year round dog walking beach. So those coming with dogs will find they can come and enjoy the seaside town without feeling like they are neglecting man’s best friend!

Being a studio apartment, the bedroom, kitchen, sitting room and dining room are the same big open space. This space is furnished with usual furniture, such as a double bed and chest of drawers. Unfortunately  there is no wardrobe but this is because of the intention to maximise the living space. The breakfast bar has seating for two, modern cooking appliances such as electric hob and oven, washer/dryer and dishwasher. Slink away in the sofa or armchair and enjoy the sea views or television in the night.

There is a large walk-in shower with s WC and a basin.

Entrance to the apartment is via one flight of external stairs and through a common hallway. Unfortunately it is not wheelchair accessible. The WiFi connection is slow and so it is only suitable for general browsing. More higher bandwidth activities such as streaming or downloading are unsuitable because the connection is not consistent. While these may be viewed as minor inconveniences, the attractions of St Ives will more than compensate for them.

September is a popular month to visit St Ives as the long established St Ives September Festival runs then. It has been going for over forty years and brings together art, music, crafts and performing arts in over a fortnight of celebration.

This year the September Festival opened with performances by a variety of street entertainers around the town such as a Cornish dancers and the St Ives Concert Band.

St Ives School of painting, situated at Porthmeor studios also organised guided life drawing classes.

Elsewhere there were other activities such as lino decorating, Falun Gong (also called Falun Dafa), a traditional Chinese self-cultivation practice,  music and poetry.

Third Man Theatre premiered the comedy Drenched – inspired by the Cornish landscape, people, folklore and the pasties!

The evening also finished with music by the John McCusker band and Tom Dale’s old-time blues, mountain music and rock music.

If you coming to St Ives, September is a particularly busy period so book your accommodation well in advance. And why not book a visit during the time of the September festival? Not only will there be the usual places to visit at St Ives, the whole seaside town will be buzzing with activities to suit everyone!

You’ll definitely have a blast!

Romantic Places in St Ives

St Ives has many places to visit and many things to do for every one young and old. Many people come to St Ives to experience the brilliant arts culture, maritime history and also head for the beaches for the sun, sand, sea and surf.

The beaches are beautiful but they aren’t the only visual scenic treasures around. There are many other beautiful gardens and places within St Ives that will evoke many beautiful memories in time to come.

St Ives is such a place of beauty that it has inspired various artists to capture the landscapes through art and photography, and craftsmen continue to be inspired on a daily basis by their surroundings. The beautiful sunrises and sunsets, juxtaposed with the boats in the harbour, on the shimmering blue sea where cormorants on the rocky landscape dry their wings … It is a truly magnificent backdrop for your holiday photos.

If you are ever considering a romantic getaway why not make St Ives your place of choice?

Along with what has already been mentioned, the winding streets and magnificent beaches make St Ives one of the most romantic parts of Cornwall. Come for a romantic holiday weekend, a Valentine’s Day romance … Or maybe even more? Here are some suggested romantic spots.

 

The Island

The Island is a lovely spot from which to observe the sunset or the waves crashing to the shore. It is not really an island, in the sense that it is actually a promontory that juts out to the sea. Nevertheless, when you have walked to the tip of it, you and your special one could feel like you are the only two people in the world, away from everyone else on the mainland. You are still connected to humanity, but away from them in your private little world. It’s easy accessibility comes at a bonus. You don’t have to hire a boat to get to some secluded island. As the day draws to a close, simply walk there and reminisce over the day or life in general. Make The Island your base from which exciting future adventures are thought up. Or head there after an evening meal, feel the winds rush through your hair as you take in the night lights of the seaside town. Or just head there for a stroll during the way, hand in hand, and climb up to tiny St Nicholas’ Chapel at the top for the best views.

 

Porthmeor Beach

Porthmeor Beach is one of the many to choose from at St Ives, but the rock pools and golden yellow sand give it a rustic combination that provide that quaint rural seaside feel. The walk along the sand is enough to take you away from the daily stresses of life and give you that sense of peace and calm that you came to St Ives for. During the day the beach is popular and a fun place to be around, so it is an exciting to spend time in the sunshine during the day, and as the night draws near, the beach takes on a different facade. Head there in the day and night, and when you look back on both sets of romantic snaps, one of which might eventually end up framed above the bed, you will be amazed to know they are of the same place because they look completely different.

 

Smeaton’s Pier

Smeaton’s Pier in the harbour extends out to sea, and you can also get good romantic snaps with the tethered boats towards The Wharf. When the tide is out you can walk along the wet sand and get pictures of yourselves closer to one of these boats. Perched on the pier ledge, with the water under your feet, pastie in hand and wind in your face … This is Cornish romance at its blossom.

Trewyn Gardens

Hidden up a hill behind Barclays bank, the inviting benches of Trewyn Garden are a nice quiet place to spend an afternoon. The lush green lawn and the stunning subtropical plants in the miniature park are inviting on summer, and a lovely cuddly spot on a chilly February day.

 

Carbis Bay

Surrounded by trees and backed by with the characteristic blue St Ives  seas, you might think Carbis Bay was the beach they put on magazine brochures for Mediterranean destinations. Carbis Bay is a short romantic route from St Ives: From the east end of Porthminster Beach, choose the South West Coast Path which takes you between the beaches. Carbis Bay is a nice quiet bay where you and your special one can have a picnic. Bring a packed lunch, bottle of wine and mat all in a little picnic basket, and the world is all yours.

 

Trencrom Hill

Trencrom Hill is a short drive away from St Ives in Lelant Downs. You can get incredible views from the top of this Neolithic settlement. Penwith Peninsula and St Michael’s Mount, as well as up towards St Austell, are all visible with the naked eye. This is a wonderful spot to catch the sunset. The secret path to the top is from the small National Trust car park, which reveals to you the short winding path  that leads you up there.

 

The Hayle beaches

 Three Miles of Golden Sands” are what you get with the beaches at Hayle. The beach seems to go on forever, the perfect place for a quiet romantic getaway. Many a romantic has seized upon this chance to pop the important question at the end of the walk! En route you can see more rural views of St Ives; Godrevy Lighthouse awaits you in the distance.

If you are looking for some place romantic for evening dining, there are so many restaurants in St Ives for that kind of special evening. Looking for somewhere to stay? Why not try the Blue Mist apartments? There is the bigger Blue Mist cottage, but for a romantic getaway for two, the Blue Mist studio sleeps two and provides an quiet, intimate space from which to explore the town. It provides a welcoming space to come home to after a day spent exploring St Ives and all the brilliant things it has on offer. Pop back in, put on some Romantic music, and just unwind and watch the waves from your window.

Some people take the opportunity to propose to their other halfs with the backdrop of St Ives in the background, both literally and metaphorically. A beautiful picture of two with the sunset and beaches in the background can make for the inspirational start to a new life, while the memory of where it happened will live forever in your minds. Find a restaurant or a romantic hideaway like the Blue Mist studio that plays light romantic music – either acoustic guitar or sentimental piano. Loud rock music, or music that even sounds remotely like it, such as rock music played on piano, is probably best avoided! Or you may also decide to do a course together while you are here. The possibilities that St Ives can offer are quite abundant!