The Fishermen's Lodges
Learn more about the unique lodges in St. Ives.
Listen to the wonderful interviews recorded by Dr. Roger Slack in the 1960s.
St. Ives' Five Fishermen's Lodges
Memories of Brian Stevens
These lodges were originally, solely for the fishermen who requested them, and reaped the benefit by having shelter and warmth their fishing boats moored in the harbour demanded being observed in rough weather, especially during winter time. The North coast of Cornwall is notorious for its heavy ground sea that can rise quickly. On they boats' fleeting and groundings many have been known to part mooring chains, subsequently not only them attaining damage on other vessels. So lodges provided a warm refuge for fishermen, who would spend many hours of a stormy night huddles around the warmth of the stove, whilst scanning the harbour via the windows.
Originally it was constructed on a filled in section adjoining the Wharf Road opposite the White Hart Inn (at the foot of Fish Street). In fact it was just as small building with a plat large enough for the men to walk up and down; this corresponding to the length of the deck size of a mackerel lugger of which so many were well acquainted in exercising whilst at sea. From approximately 1905 to 1939 the plat did not have a wall or railing although there was a sheer drop to the beach, or on spring tides, a considerable depth of water.
Mr. Edward Thomas was interviewed by Dr. Roger Slack in 1964. Here he gives a detailed description of fishing for pilchards, herring and mackerel from St Ives and the kipper industry at the turn of the century.
Thomas Cothey tells of the Smoke/Kipper houses in the town and the ‘Scotch’ girls coming down to work.
He also talks about his father being a Huer for the seine fishing and mentions the Stems at Pol, Pedn’olva and Mester.
One and All
1904 - 1931
This lodge came about when the sand in the harbour was level with the Wharf roadway from Quay Street to Chy an Chy. Thinking that this sand was there to stay, a wooden lodge was duly constructed opposite Bethesda Hill. Although there are some photographs of the lodge, little is recorded about it; only that, like the parable of the man who built his house upon the sand, the lodge too, a few years later came tumbling down, when wind and sea conditions one stormy night extracted the sand on which it stood.
Jane Quick shows Dr. Slack photos of her mother, granny and great granny. Jane talks about her life growing up in Pudding Bag Lane. Jane describes the story of who flogged the hake.
(1901 and moved in 1915)
This was situated to the front of what I knew as the Copper Kettle Café not far from Court Cocking. Similar in construction to the 'One and All' Lodge being of timber, this too was then on the beach. I would imagine that it was built just prior to the First World War; it also had a short existence, in that position, not due to the weather damaging its foundations, but because a long desire to have a road way above the beach had at last reached fruition. Fish salesmen's plots were then made no top of the cut and dressed granite retaining wall from the harbour basin to the new edam where this lodge was formerly situated. We are fortunate to have a drawing of the Lodge in our art collection at the St Ives Museum.
Shore Shelter Lodge
When I was five or six, I can recall my grandfather taking me by the hand around Downlong and dropping into the Shore Shelter before we returned home. Therefore, my grandfather was my passport for entry. Sitting down beside him my eyes scanned the interior of this lodge. Its walls were full of framed photographs of old St. Ives, depicting the harbour, tiers of fishing boars, posed groups of people, old properties long since gone and so much more. The stove was lighted and gave forth an inviting warmth to all there, its floor was sanded; this principally because most of the men smoked pipes and would often spit on the floor. Fresh sand was used regularly, with the swept up sand being deposited in a bucket with the churks from the fire bring tipped over the railings into the harbour. The sand was collected from Porthmeor beach because it was cleaner and more grittier than the harbour 'forehand', which was far from clean, it being a working harbour with boars landing fish and coastal trading vessels discharging cargoes such as coal and bricks etc.
Just inside the entrance door there was a horizontal strap of leather fixed about every three inches with a nail or two. Here, securely placed behind this leather were tow or three long very sharp knives which were used to gut and fillet the round fish and wing the rays; this being carried out on the wooden baulks to either side of the lifeboat slip. These were used by the members when they had had a ling, cod or ray given to them prom perhaps a family boat.
Bay View Lodge
When it was erected the writer does not know at present, but it was a make and mend type of building, being of light scant walls and a somewhat frail wooden and felted roof. This was well acquainted with the tar brush to retain its water-proofing for rain water, but when the sea was stormy it would be completely overwhelmed with gigantic waves pounding down on its roof.
It's 'members' were quite naturally those of the fishing fraternity, but in my younger years, were of the majority being those who had retired from fishing, and were on the 70, 80, and 90 year olds, who would repeatedly relate the prosperous past seasons of fishing, but with little reference to the majority of those failed seasons.
Summertime would see these fishermen sunning themselves on the long seat outside the lodge, and come winter time the interior would provide shelter from the elements, particularly the cold east wind that came across the bay unhindered and to the very door of this lodge. Naturally they had a coal burning stove that provided heat and cheer for them on those long winter evenings. Their 'members' subscriptions' although at just a few shillings yearly would provide the resources to pay for the coal. This was usually acquired weekly during the summer months when it was a little cheaper. A donation box would be evident should any 'stranger' venture in and the few pence and small silver coins derived from the, added to their ability to function independently, like generations of the forefathers had existed before them.
John Cothey talks about boat building at Porthgwidden and on the harbour and the names of boats and some shipwrecks.
Philip Roach Thomas recounts detailed information about fishing - herring, mackerel, ray, pilchards and boats and nets used.
Rose Lodge was originally situated at the bottom of Court Cocking. You will probably be aware that, just before the First World War, the Wharf Road didn’t exist. The beach came right up to where the shops are now, and the boats would have been drawn up almost to the top of the beach. In 1917, and due to the proposed construction of the roadway along the Wharf, it became necessary for the Rose Lodge to be moved to a more substantial position, this being next to the Shore Lodge. Sir Edward Hain, a great benefactor to the town, provided the money for the Rose Lodge to be moved to its present position. Upon his death in 1917, Sir Edward Hain bequeathed the sum of £300 for the future upkeep of all the lodges.
One piece of fascinating information taken from the Archive files is that the floors of the Shelters were, at one time, deliberately covered with sand rather than carpet or sawdust but that the sand had to be brought over from Porthmeor beach, as Porthmeor sand was considered a better quality than the harbour sand. Looking at the photograph below of the fish laid out for sale in the harbour, I can quite understand why!
No women were allowed in the lodges but flags were flown when any of their daughters got married. One old tradition still adhered to is that death notices of local people are still displayed on the outside of the Shore Shelter Lodge.
In 1996 the St Ives Town Council still owned the land on which the lodges were built and charged a ground rent of 5p a year!
Fishermen’s Lodges, St Ives
by Jan Harris
Born and Bred
Photos copyright Ann Kelley
January 1986. My son has died just before Christmas following an unsuccessful heart and lung transplant. I threw myself into work on my book of photographs of born and bred St Ives families.
The men at the three fishermen’s lodges were welcoming, kind. They said I should have told them when Nathan died and they would have lowered the flag. They called me Maid, my bird, my lover.
Shamrock, Rose and Shore Shelter: elderly men who have known each other all their lives slamming dominoes onto the deal table, playing euchre in companionable silence in the fug of a smoke filled room, joshing, telling yarns. They are surrounded by framed photographs of fishing boats, a visual history of local industry when the harbour was so full of boats you could cross it by stepping from deck to deck.
Ann Kelley Feb 2021
Same Boys - Same Sea
A soft blue sky and a broiling sun -
Barefooted and fleet as the hare we'd run
From the captive walls of the little school
To the beach below; where the waters coo,
Caressing the sand and the rugged rocks
Would murmer a welcome, as shirts and frocks
Were laid aside; young, happy and free,
We would paddle and play in the restlee sea.
A cold black night and a raging storm -
Above it all on the air id borne
The sound of a rocket; the clock strikes two
As we bid farewell to the gallant crew.
Of eight who sailed on that tragic quest
There was one survivor, for all the rest,
The same who as children had run from school
To paddle and play in the waters cool,
That night had challenged the angry wave
At the call of duty, and found a grave.
By John Barber
Photo copyright Tony Farrell
Today, the Jumbo Association use the Rose Lodge to meet, repair their gear and assemble prior to sailing.
Jumbos were a class of inshore fishing lugger quite unique to St.Ives. Until this project began, they were also the least known class of the fishery.
Jumbos were first registered in 1885, shortly before the demise of the fishery reflecting a growing preference for smaller inshore boats that could leave the harbour at half tide. They were a safe alternative to the pilot gigs which, built for speed, were only suitable for fishing in fair weather (see below). Jumbos were a ‘catch-all’ class to include anything larger than a pilot gig and smaller than a pilchard driver, so they varied widely in size and construction. Perhaps owing to their short life, Jumbos were soon forgotten following the demise of the fishery and working sail.
Today’s Jumbos however, were originally designed specifically for the purpose by one of St.Ives’ best known builders, William Paynter (1837–1930). They are replicas of the smallest recorded and were researched and built by Jonny Nance.
Aerial footage © Alban Roinard