Mevagissey, Cornwall

Mevagissey, Cornwall harbourMevagissey, Cornwall town

Mevagissey was first recorded as a hamlet in 1313. Meva-ag-issey means "Meva and Issey" and is named in the 15th century after the Welsh and Irish saints, Meva and Itha. John Trewollas built the first pier here in 1430, and fishing has been important ever since.

Mevagissey is today a very pretty fishing village with rows of colour washed cob cottages grouped round the steep sides of a valley and a natural harbour. Mevagissey Harbour is still an active fishing harbour, although today tourists bring in more money to the local economy than pilchards,. In the narrow streets leading off the harbour, you will find craft shops, art galleries, cafes, restaurants and pubs.In the run up to Christmas, the village puts on a display of Christmas Lights in the harbour and on New Year's Eve almost everybody wears fancy dress and parades round the town.

Mevagissey was the first town to have electric street lighting, powered from Pilchard Oil. In the past pilchards were salted in quayside pits and pressed into barrels by the fishwives. The press oil from the pilchards was used for both lighting and heating.

Mevagissey was the home of Andrew Pears who went to London in 1789, and there he dreamt up Pears Soap, which is still sold today.

The whole area was famous for boat building in the past, making vessels fast enough to outrun the excise boats, and also warships during the Napoleonic Wars. The old port has retained its character in spite of the tourist influx. Boat building has been done here since 1745, and fishing boats still fish.

World of Model Railways Exhibition - a collection of 2000 models and an OO gauge layout with 30 trains travelling through varied landscapes including town, country, seaside and even an Alpine Winter.

The Mevagissey Aquarium is on the quayside, in the old lifeboat house. The sealife aquarium features many species of fish found in these waters. All proceeds go to a charity which maintains and improves the harbour.

Mevagissey Folk Museum is on the East Quay. It is housed in a boatbuilder's workshop of 1745. Many of the roof joists are from old sailing ships. A collection of local artifacts giving a history of the town. Tools used in the area from boat building to a cider press, al horse-drawn barley thresher and Cornish kitchen with a working cloam oven. A collection of 19th and 20th century photographs showing the village evolving over the years.

Also close by are the Lost Gardens of Heligan.

Just to the south, boatbuilding is still carried on at Portmellon, and there is the charming village of Gorran Haven, with the looming headland of Dolman Point to its SE.


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