Sunday, 21 April 2013

The History of St Ives and the Downalong Area

The Downalong area of St. Ives - best described at the oldest and arguably most picturesque area of the town, has kept holidaymakers and visitors coming back time and time again to explore the maze of tiny streets and sample the wealth of local history. Rising to worldwide prominence through the artist movement in the mid 20th century, the area has always been the subject of fascinating activities. In this blog post we will explore just a few and provide an insight into the history of the area.

The history of St. Ives, and indeed the Downalong area of the town, traces its roots back to the middle ages. Establishing itself as the main fishing and trading port in the area, the town grew from the harbour into nearby cottages and small streets where fishermen lived.The labyrinth of small, narrow and often crowded lanes gave the town its character as it developed - with small cottages situated amongst shopkeepers and traders - grocers, butchers, bakers and market sellers would all vie for space. Much the same applies today; the tourist trade bringing a new life and a different atmosphere to this part of time.

cornish cottage holidaysThere was a time when St. Ives boasted a large fleet of fishing vessels, with mackerels and pilchards, as well as the shipping of mineral ore, the main economy of the area. The workers would inhabit the Downalong area of the town, often with many people crammed into small spaces and tiny cottages which have since been developed or extended. It was initially a prosperous industry, with thousands of people in employment before the fishing market started to change and dwindle in the mid 20th century.

By then however there was a new focus to this part of town. Gaining attention from a small group of forward thinking artists, St. Ives became a summer haven for many well known painters and sculptors of the day - from Barbara Hepworth to Patrick Heron, Terry Frost and Peter Lanyon. Their work put West Cornwall on the map to a new breed of artists and visitors to the area - and with their work being displayed internationally this gave the opportunity for St. Ives to also develop a new kind of tourist. As the tourist trade developed, helped in part by the art, the Downalong area changed yet again from a hive of artistic activity to the beautiful and classic holiday accommodation we now know today.

The transition of this part of town over the years has retained many of the features that original inhabitants of the area could recognise. Tastefully decorated cottages and apartments attract people from all over the world to sample the atmosphere of St. Ives - with an ever increasing range of attractions, restaurants, caf├ęs and shops to accompany the stunning local beaches.

To learn more, why not book one of our luxury cornish cottage holidays to St. Ives and see this part of town for yourself. Contact Cornish Secrets today on 01736 798745

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