St Ives town is at the western end of the bay, at the end of a picturesque branch railway running along the cliffs. A haven for painters and artists, Walter Sickert, James McNeill Whistler, Barbara Hepworth, Peter Lanyon and Patrick Heron have all lived, or stayed, here at some time.
Places to Visit at St Ives
Bernard Leach’s pottery can be seen at the studio and pottery shop, Barbara Hepworth’s sculpture Dual Form stands outside the Guildhall and at her former home, Barnoon Hill, is the famous Sculpture Garden. Whilst on the subject of artists the St Ives Society of Artists gallery is in Norway Square, the Penwith Society of Artists gallery is in Back Road West and the Barnes Museum of Cinematography in Fore Street.
St Ives is still an intriguing place with its strange sounding names: Downalong, Wheal Dream, Fish Street, Teetotal Street and Salubrious Place and you can cross to an ‘Island’ which is nothing of the sort. At ‘Island’ is the fisherman’s chapel, St Nicholas, which stands marking the spot where they think St Ia, or Eia, came ashore from the coracle which had brought the Celtic saint from Ireland.
This was once the pilchard capital of Cornwall but the pilchards have long since found another run and their place is taken by tourists. But there is still some fishing, and local fishermen will, at a price, show you where they are to be caught. Fishing port, artists’ colony and holiday town, that is St Ives past and present. Porthmeor is heaven for the surfloarders and then south of the harbour are the long sandy green-backed Porthminster beach and Carbis Bay. There is a cinema in St Ives, the local choir is famous and they hold Sunday hymn-singing by the harbour.
Places to Visit by Car or Coach
Hayle is nearby with miles of ‘towans’ – natural sandhils topped with tufted grass hummocks – and is where Richard Trevithick built his first steam engine. It has a Bird Paradise, too. Four miles south-east of St Ives is Lelant with its model village. Along the Saltings on the estuary, bird-watchers enjoy one of the best sites in the county.