Federation of Old Cornwall Societies

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St Ives Old Cornwall Society



President: Margaret M Stevens


Vice-President: Frank Stevens


Chairman: Brian Stevens  


Secretary: Valerie Thomas   01736 794845


Treasurer: Raymond Perkins


Recorder: Frank Stevens



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Our annual subscription is £8.50, and we charge £2 for visitors.


We meet at 7 p.m. in the St Ives Infant

School on the third Monday of every month except February and  April.




August 13th - Crying the Neck, see poster below

September 16th - Hayle and its Heritage. Trevor Smitheram

October 28th - Cornwall Curiosities. Alan Cox

November 18th - Argall Photographers 1865 - 1965. Frank Argall

December 16th - Fore Street Singers. William Thomas and Friends


January 20th - Member’s Night, 100th Anniversary

February 24th - Looking at the Mount. Hugh Trevarthen

March 16th - National Coast Watch. Tim Lait

April 20th - Cornwall, a land apart. Tony Mansell

May 18th - AGM followed by Visual recording of changes in St Ives during the last year. Frank Stevens


Other Events

Saturday 23rd November - Federation Winter Festival at Torpoint

Monday 4th May 2020 - Mayday Parade through the streets of St Ives

Saturday 13th June 2020 - Kernow Goth 100 - Camborne Rugby Football Club

Tuesday 23rd June 2020- Midsummer’s Eve Bonfire at Carnstabba Hill, Halsetown

July 2020 Summer Festival (no venue or date known at present)

August 2020 - Crying the Neck (no date known at present)







































Founded: 1920


Colours: Purple

St Ives new From Frank Stevens St Ives OCS St Ives OCS Visits St Agnes

After having to cancel the September meeting because of bad weather, the October meeting had an excellent attendance. President Margaret gave notice of forthcoming events, including the Federation’s Winter Festival at Bodmin on November 24th. She also spoke of the society’s successful Bonfire night and Crying the Neck ceremonies which proved very popular, before introducing presenter Cornish bard John McWilliams [ Jowan]whose topic was the Cornish Mackerel Season.


All of John’s narrative was accompanied by slides, many of them historic.  The first image was of cans of mackerel, on each was written ’sustainably caught’. It is alleged that mackerel fishing in St.Ives was first introduced by the Bretons in the 17th century, but it was probably small scale fishing.  They stored their fishing gear in an old abandoned cow-house on the Island, [ shown on screen]. In writings at the time there is mention of pilchards and herrings, but no mackerel, while local Tithe holders gave 1/10th of their earnings to the Church. Spring later became the main mackerel season, but nowadays the fish also appear in the autumn. In the late 18th and 19th centuries, mackerel could not be salted, so had to be eaten fresh. By then 2 sails had given way to 3, so enabling mackerel fishing in Ireland. Luggers using 2 sails contained cabins besides net and fish rooms. At one time, William Paynter built his boats on the harbour foreshore, before removing to Ireland; one of his vessels is preserved near Belfast. Before the advent of the railway, mackerel were taken to London markets by a Hayle to Bristol steamer; fish were handled by putting them into tubs on the quay, washed and freshened before being packed in pads of straw or paper in a basket with a lid and handles, before being sold on


The building of the Royal Albert Bridge at Saltash in 1859 meant that large amounts of fish could be transported more quickly. In 1860, fishermen from Lowestoft and Yarmouth arrived, but their working on Sundays was contrary to St.Ives’ and Newlyn’s religious principles, and landings at these ports was refused on Mondays with some exceptions at Newlyn. The market became gutted for the rest of the week by this practice, bringing hardship to the non-fishers. In 1896 ‘Yorkies’ flooded the markets, leading to riots in Newlyn when locals threw mackerel off their vessels.  Arriving by train, 350 soldiers of the Berkshire Regiment were sent to restore order, as well as 3 warships anchored in the bay.


St.Ives was a tidal harbour, helped by the Victorian extension to Smeaton’s Pier but Newlyn’s was not secure until the building of the North and South piers in 1888/9, and then able to accommodate vessels from all over Britain ,but leading to concerns that strangers were dominating the market and affecting the Cornish economy. With many unable to earn a living, or to pay their rates, this led to the beginning of emigration to America.


During World War One, owners were granted loans to install engines in their vessels, but those that did fish successfully during the conflict, which was important for the food supply, were always at risk from enemy Uboats. Bretons continued to arrive after the war, fishing until the Second World War, when their larger vessels enabled them to earn a good living. In the 1920’s mackerel were caught by using floating nets, with footline coilers used to pull over the nets. In recent years, small St.Ives boats caught mackerel with ‘spinners’, liners baited with feathers for hand lining, a practice that has also become popular with holiday makers. Brain showed  a bag of these feathers, now held at the museum, remarking that  what began as ‘ sustainable fishing’ went on to become still sustainable today.            


John drew the raffle after answering several questions, then refreshments were served. The next meeting will be on Monday November 19th, when John Strike’s topic will be’ Cornish Wrecks’. All are welcome.  



St Ives Crying the Neck 2019