Smeaton's Pier St Ives Cornwall

Smeaton's Pier & History

Smeaton’s Pier is an iconic symbol of St Ives. It must have been painted and photographed more than almost any other pier in the UK. It is far prettier and more interesting than its name suggests!

Smeaton's Pier St Ives Cornwall

Why Is It Called Smeaton’s Pier?

It was named after the pier engineer in charge who was called John Smeaton. It was built between 1767 and 1770 and interestingly has a reservoir at its base. This fills up at high tide, helping to reduce the wave action into the harbour.

Smeaton's Pier St Ives Cornwall Behind

Why Are There 2 Lighthouses & 2 Piers?

The original pier was only 120 ft in length and stopped at the old, small lighthouse. This lighthouse is no longer in use.

Smeaton's Pier St Ives Cornwall Old Lighthouse

Smeaton's Pier St Ives Cornwall 2 Lighthouses

In 1864 there were grand plans to expand the harbour. The fishing fleet at this time was huge and there was a need for more room. New Pier was built as a second pier almost 90 degrees to the original Smeaton's Pier, mainly made from wood (it is sometimes called Wood Pier).

Smeaton's Pier St Ives Cornwall New Pier

The planners must have underestimated the power of the sea in St Ives Bay as it only lasted for 20 years. All that is left now are the rows of supporting timber stumps which can be seen at low tide. New Pier is not used by the fishing fleet.

Smeaton's Pier St Ives Cornwall Wood Pier
Smeaton’s Pier was lengthened by another 300ft in the 1890s which is when the current lighthouse was built.
Smeaton's Pier St Ives Cornwall New Lighthouse
The new lighthouse is painted white and over time with the weather, it becomes stained with rust. Occasionally it gets a fresh lick of paint which always looks lovely!
Smeaton's Pier St Ives Cornwall Painted Lighthouse

The Arches

The 3 arches under the pier were also added to help circulate the seawater and prevent the build up of sand in the harbour.

Smeaton's Pier St Ives Cornwall Arches

The St Ives Fishing Fleet

Smeaton’s Pier is a still working pier for the local fishermen. Please take good care when walking along it as there is often fishing tackle around.

The pier and harbour is run by Cornwall Harbours and the Harbour Master has an office on Smeaton's Pier.

Smeaton's Pier St Ives Cornwall Harbour Master

St Ives has the largest handline fleet on the north coast of Cornwall. There are over 20 small boats which are mainly operated by one fisherman. They use handlines to catch mackerel in St Ives Bay. Most of the catch is sent to auction at Newlyn.

Smeaton's Pier St Ives Cornwall Fishing Boats
Smeaton's Pier St Ives Cornwall Fishing Boats
Smeaton's Pier St Ives Cornwall Fishing Boats

There are also some larger boats which fish for brown crab and lobster using pots. You can see piles of these pots on the pier.

Smeaton's Pier St Ives Cornwall Pots
Smeaton's Pier St Ives Cornwall Fish Sheds
Smeaton's Pier St Ives Cornwall Winches

Annual landings for the St Ives fishing fleet are around 70 tonnes per year.

You can contact the harbour master here >>

The Cintra Anchor

On the seaward side of the pier is The Cintra Anchor.

Smeaton's Pier St Ives Cornwall Cintra Anchor

This anchor, recovered from the seabed in  May 1959, came from the “Cintra”, one of four ships wrecked in St Ives Bay in the Great Gale of 18th November 1893. Due to the severity of the gale, the lifeboat could not be launches. Crews of two vessels were rescued by Breeches Buoy from Carbis Bay beach. Seven of Cintra’s crew of twelve drowned. The other five were rescued by Breeches Buoy from Carbis Bay beach and Carrack Gladden cliffs.

WW2 Memorial

Near the entrance to the pier is a plaque dedicated to the people of St Ives for their support and hospitality to all those Army and Royal Marine Commandos who were billeted in the town and trained in the surrounding area between 1943 – 1950.

Smeaton's Pier St Ives Cornwall WW2 Memorial

St Leonard’s Chapel

St Leonard’s Chapel is a tiny little chapel situated at the entrance to Smeaton’s Pier.

Smeaton's Pier St Ives Cornwall St Leonard's Chapel
It has been there since medieval times. It is where the fishermen used to pray before setting out to sea. Apparently, in “the olden days” a proportion of the fishermans’ catch had to be paid to the chapel friar on their safe return.

Click here to read more about St Leonard's Chapel >>

New Pier Harbour Wall

On the seaward side of Smeaton’s Pier there is New Pier harbour wall. This is a lovely place to stop and sit or even do a spot of crabbing. At high tide there is often a seal or two in the water here looking for fishermens bait! At low tide you can walk down onto Breakwater Beach. This is a lovely bit of beach for dog walking all year round (only at low tide though).

Smeaton's Pier St Ives Cornwall New Pier

This is also where you will find the boat jetty to catch boat trips when the tide is out.

Smeaton's Pier St Ives Cornwall Boat Jetty

In 2016 work was done to refurbish the seating area on Smeaton’s Pier. The old shelter, benches and railings were very tatty and almost falling down in some places. Work has now been completed and it is a really lovely, sheltered place to stop and sea gaze.

Smeaton's Pier St Ives Cornwall Seating
Have a good look at the benches as there are some lovely engravings on them.
Smeaton's Pier St Ives Cornwall Benches

The Leach Pottery Tiles

On the wall of the seating area is a lovely tiled mural.

In 2016 (I think I've got that right), the Leach Pottery held a community event whereby you could go along to the Leach Pottery and design your own tile. The tiles have been collated into a lovely mural that hangs on the wall here.

The border tiles were designed by members of the community.

The inner rows depict important events in the history of St Ives.

Smeaton's Pier St Ives Cornwall Leach Tile Mural

The tile timeline makes a really interesting read of the history of St Ives.

Smeaton's Pier St Ives Cornwall Leach Tile Timeline

Nearest Facilites To Smeaton’s Pier

Toilets: there are toilets on Smeaton’s Pier which are open year round.

Car Park: there is car parking right on Smeaton’s Pier. It’s a small car park but there are usually spaces in Winter (there were plenty when I went there today at 11am Wednesday 25th Jan).

Food & Drink: there is The Pier Coffee Bar just before you get to Smeaton’s Pier. It serves extremely good coffee. There are lots of other eating & drinking establishments along The Wharf and in town.

Dogs: dogs are only allowed on the pier up to the old pier. Beyond that is a working harbour and no dogs are allowed there.

Smeaton's Pier St Ives Cornwall
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