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Once a busy fishing village, but following the arrival of the railway became a thriving tourist town

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Godrevy Lighthouse
Fisherman's Cottages
Porthmeor Beach
Tate St. Ives
In the English southwest, towards the end of Cornwall's long peninsula, is a town called St. Ives. If you'd visited the place a century or two ago, you'd have found a busy fishing village, and a harbour packed full of hundreds of boats. But in the late 19th century, it was connected to the railway network, and this sleepy little place soon became a tourist destination for hundreds of Victorian holidaymakers. The small fishing village became a town.
However, even with this growth, don't think that St. Ives became a bustling, ugly metropolis. It's still easy to see where the town came from. The narrow, cobbled lanes still wind and weave their way through a network of fishermen's cottages. The streets are filled with plants and flowers. In fact, St. Ives has won prizes in the "Britain In Bloom" competition many times.

St Ives Harbour
Photo neiljs
When you eventually find your way to the harbour, you'll soon notice that it's not been forgotten. It's not as busy as it once was, but the local fishermen still go out into the ocean to make their catches. These fish can find their way onto the dinner plates of St. Ives' restaurants within hours providing a truly fresh meal. Another traditional food for the area is, of course, the Cornish pasty, and you'll never struggle to find somewhere selling them.

The pretty streets of St Ives
Photo aaron.bihari
Once you've eaten, you'll probably need a sit down, and there's nowhere better than the beach. St. Ives has several, which are all warmed by currents from the Gulf Stream. This gives the area a better climate than just about anywhere else in Britain.
If you arrive by train, then the first beach you'll notice will be Porthminster, as it's literally next door to the station. The sands here are nearly a kilometre long, and there are great views of Godrevy Lighthouse, on a small island out to sea. Porthmeor, meanwhile, is the beach of choice for the many surfers who arrive in town. There are beach huts, cafes, and plenty of other amenities. If you've always wanted to give surfing a go, then now's your chance, as there's a school and training centre here that'll get you started in no time.
St. Ives is also famous for its art community. For decades now, artists have been flocking to this small town, to sketch and paint its beautiful vistas. You'd think that after so much time, they'd get bored of coming here, but it seems like they just can't help themselves. St. Ives' old cottages and turquoise seas are just too hard to resist. Even today, every other building is a workshop, or a studio.
As a result of this artistic population, the town is lucky enough to have a branch of the Tate, some distance away from its more famous galleries in London and Liverpool. The exhibitions are housed within a striking, circular building, which used to be a gas works. Thanks to the local talent, the gallery features a wide variety of Cornish art. There are several other exhibitions and museums in town, including one dedicated to the famous local sculptor, Barbara Hepworth. Her workshop has been kept just as she left it, and it's now open for viewings.
Many of the local artists open up their studios for public viewing during St. Ives' September Festival, which lasts for around a fortnight every year. There is also a wide programme of music, film, and other entertainment. The festival draws in plenty of visitors, but even at other times of year, the town is rarely empty. During the summer especially, people arrive by the trainload. But with an atmosphere and climate that seem more like the Mediterranean than England, it's quite difficult to blame them. If you decide to come by car though, be aware that its narrow streets can be awkward to drive through - parking outside and walking is a much more pleasant and relaxing option!
Visitor Information
St Ives Tourist Information Centre, The Guildhall, Street-an-Pol, St Ives, TR26 2DS. Tel: 01736 796 297
The Tate St. Ives is open daily from March to October (limited in Winter) from 10am to 5:20pm. Entry costs around £6 for adults, children are FREE. Porthmeor, Beach, St Ives, Cornwall TR26 1TG. Tel: 01736 796 226

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