Holidaymakers have been falling in love with St Ives since Victorian times, the remnants of the 'New Pier' or the Rampers as it is now known locally must have made a favourite picture postcard to send to those less fortunate - stuck at home. During its relatively short life it became the subject of a number of paintings, attempting to capture the drama of the many storms which threatened it.
My research began at the town museum which was open so I went to ask more. Ah, the ‘Rampers’ I was told, had originally supported a pier and told a sorry tale. Brian Stevens, the curator of the museum, filled me in with a plethora of historical material, much of it from his own memories of the remains of the pier as a boy, and also with accounts passed down through the families of the town. He can still remember coming across pieces of old masonry on the beach at low spring tides, the remains of the base for the 'round end' of the 'New Pier'.
Next a trip to the St Ives Archive to see Janet Axten. I was shown newspaper accounts by Cyril Noall and archive photographs of the pier. Many of these were extremely helpful in building a picture of the structure. From online research I found that the Cornwall Records Office in Truro had some drawings of a pier at St Ives from the right period. These turned out to be the designer’s original hand drawn designs for the pier, along with later additions. These I have photographed and reproduced here by permission of the Records Office, (now Kresen Kernow). Letters and accounts from the Record Office helped greatly in the development of the story.
I decided to reconstruct the ill-fated pier from the material at hand. It was reimagined in 3D computer graphics created from the drawings of Michael Scott, the engineer. Original copies of the relevant Acts of Parliament were acquired to gain a better understanding of the construction and historical context of the works. I believe that the artwork seen in this publication gives a unique perspective and a better understanding of the story of the New Pier using today’s technology and the artist's eye.
Through Penlee House Museum and Gallery in Penzance I was introduced to David Tovey, an art collector specializing in the maritime art of Cornwall. His grandfather was one of the original members of the Artists Colony in St Ives and David is an acknowledged expert on the subject. He has
written and published a number of books about the St Ives Artists Colony and maritime art in particular, and regularly gives talks. The painting 'A Break in the Clouds, Crossing the Bar' by John Mogford is reproduced here with his kind permission having been exhibited by me in my exhibition at the Willoughy Gallery, Bude in 2018.