St Ives Lighthouses

St Ives

St Ives has two lighthouses located on Smeaton’s Pier.  The town has three piers in total: Smeaton’s Pier, West Pier and New Pier. 

In the fourteenth century, St Ives had the largest fishing fleet in the region, but it did not have a harbour until 1770.

One of the earliest lighthouses in Cornwall was established at St Ives.  A light was displayed on the Chapel of St Nicholas on the northern side of the town.  Later a lantern on a pole was displayed on what is now known as Lamp Rock.

St Ives Lighthouses
Smeaton’s Pier with the two lighthouses

Smeaton’s Pier

The East Pier was built between 1766 and 1770 under the supervision of John Smeaton and became known as Smeaton’s Pier. It has a reservoir at its base allowing it to fill up with water as the tide level rises, helping to reduce the action of the waves into the harbour.

The pier was 120ft long and a lighthouse was later added to the end of the pier in 1830, built by James and Edward Harvey.  An octagonal stone gallery room was mounted on a square stone base.  It had an observation under a black domed roof with a weather vane.  In 1835 the light was converted to gas and the lighthouse continued in use until the pier was extended.

Old Lighthouse
Photo: Patrick Tubby

As the fishing fleet had expanded by this time, a new pier was built from wood to accommodate more vessels.  However, the pier only lasted for 20 years.  A few timber remains can still be seen at low water.

Smeaton’s Pier was extended in the 1890s and a new lighthouse was erected at the end.  A 32ft high octagonal cast iron lighthouse indicated the water level.  The lighthouse displays a green light when safe to enter, and red when the water is low.

New Lighthouse

The lighthouse was repainted in 2016.

The West Pier was built in 1894 to load stone from local quarries.   The Lifeboat House and slipway was built between 1993 and 1994.

St Ives Museum is close to the pier and contains lots of lighthouse and maritime artefacts and is worth a visit. 

Godrevy Lighthouse is located out in the bay and can be reached by boat from St Ives.

St Ives Old Pier LighthouseEstablished: 1830 Discontinued: 1890 Engineer: Tower Height: Light Character: Range: Fog Signal: Elevation: Automated:
St Ives Pier LighthouseEstablished: 1890 Discontinued: Engineer: Tower Height: 10 metres Light Character: 2 Fixed Green (vert) Range: 5 miles Fog Signal: Elevation: 8 metres Automated: