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A brief history of the Sail Lofts

Located within metres of Porthmeor Beach, and in the heart of old St Ives, the Sail Lofts apartments offer the best in contemporary, luxury self catering in Cornwall – but the buildings themselves date back hundreds of years.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, they were used as drying lofts for nets and sails, while the courtyard (now our private subtropical garden) was a processing and pressing yard for pilchards and sardines – the main fishing catch which supported the St Ives economy until the early 20th century.

At the height of the industry there were more than 300 similar operations trading in St Ives, the site at the Sail Lofts being one of the largest. Pilchards were compressed in large wooden barrels to produce oil, most of which was shipped to London and used as lamp fuel. The bronze sculpture by David Buarma, in our courtyard, reflects the buildings’ fishing heritage.

In recent years some of the buildings at the Sail Lofts have also been used by artists as studios, and we’re proud to say a number of them are still working on site today.