St Ives is a very pleasant town that has managed to accommodate tourism without being spoilt by it.
St Ives supposedly got its name from St Ia, a female saint who crossed from Ireland on a leaf!, It is an ancient borough and was one of the main centres of pilchard fishing in the last century.
At St Ives in 1868, a record 16.5 million pilchards were hauled in from one seine net. The pilchards were pressed in fish cellars, to remove the blood and oil, they were then packed tightly into wooden barrels and exported.
Tin ands copper from the surrounding mines were also exported through the harbour, and coal to power the mine engines was imported. Smeaton's pier, the main arm of the harbour, was built by the architect of the Eddystone Light. Today the miners and the fishermen have gone, and droves of tourists have replaced them, although the town has retained its Cornish character.
There is still much of the old character in the town, with cobbled alleys and flowery courtyards, steep streets and whitewashed cottages.
At the foot of The Digey, home of many of the best cottages, is the old inn, The Sloop - frequented by fishermen and artists. John Wesley's visits to the town are remembered in the street names - Salubrious Street and Teetotal Street.
St Ives harbour was the home port for over 400 pilchard fishing boats at the height of the pilchard boom. It also landed coal to power the large beam engines of the local mines and exported of stone, tin and copper that came from local mines.
The parish church, contains a sculpture by Barbara Hepworth to the Madonna and Child. The church was completed in 1426 - it's tower built of granite brought by sea from Zennor, just down the coast.
Indeed there has been an artists colony since the 1880's when Turner visited the town. The clear light attracted Whistler and Sickert, and later Ben Nicholson and Peter Lanyon. Bernard Leach started the Leach Pottery in Higher Stennack, Leach became one of the most influential figures of the craft movement in the 20th century and his pottery in here was the centre and symbol of this movement.
The Tate Gallery has an outpost here , which opened in 1992. And many examples of Hepworth's work can be seen at the Hepworth Museum in Back Street. Barbara Hepworth's studio and garden have been run by the Tate since 1980, and are now an integral part of Tate. Hepworth, who died in 1975, asked in her will that Trewyn Studios and the adjacent garden, with a group of her sculptures placed as she wished, be permanently open to the public. A fairly full list of St Ives Art Galleries can be found on the Trust web site
St Ives, Cornwall genealogical information from the Genuki web site