Every time I head in to St Ives I cannot get over the colours of the water there. This day I managed to time it right so that the tide was in the harbour and the boats were afloat. I wanted to stroll along the pier as it has been a long time since I did that and get a little closer to the lighthouse on the end.
Smeaton’s Pier is a rubble and masonry pier extending south from the coast at St Ives, on the east side of the harbour’s south entrance. Designed by John Smeaton in 1766 the Georgian era pier was built by Thomas Richardson, who had been Smeaton’s foreman mason on the construction of Edddystone Lighthouse.
Once one of the most important pilchard landing ports in Cornwall the harbour would have been crammed full of fishing boats and the wharf side bustling with fish wives and traders. These days the harbour is still thriving and the quayside as busy as ever but fishing is no longer the main industry here.
Smeaton’s pier was originally 360 feet (120 metres) long with the elegant Smeaton’s lighthouse sitting at the end. However, in the 1890s the pier was extended to almost double its length and a new lighthouse added.
The diminutive chapel of St Leonard’s stood at the base of an older pier since medieval times. The chapel is where fishermen would pray before setting out to sea. It is said a proportion of their catch was paid to the chapel friar on their safe return.
Now it houses a collection of model fishing boats and a memorial to St Ives fishermen who have lost their lives at sea.
When the tide is low the sand extends all the way to Porthminster beach to the north and sometimes you can even walk around the pier to the elusive Bamaluz beach.