St Ives was originally a fishing community but as for other Cornish towns, the fishing industry has declined. However the fishing industry still exists, but only on a smaller scale allowing the harbour to retain its traditional character.
St Ives Lifeboat Station is located directly on the harbour allowing the lifeboat to be quickly launched. The Lifeboat Station is open to the public during the tourist season.
St Ives has had a lifeboat since 1840 and since then the crews have saved over a 1000 lives.
The pier is called Smeatons Pier and is well worth a visit. Smeatons Pier was constructed at the latter part of the eighteenth century. It was only half the current length. The original lighthouse gives an indication of its earlier length.
St Ives harbour was expanded and in the 1860s an additional wooden pier was added to it. Wood Pier was constructed primarily of wood and failed within twenty years. The remains of this pier can be seen at low tide.
The harbour was extended to its current length at the end of the eighteenth century. The three arches in the pier were added to allow sand to be naturally flushed out of the harbour so preventing the silting up of the harbour.