St Ives (Porth Ia) is a seaside town, civil parish and port in the Penwith district of Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. The town lies north of Penzance, and west of Camborne. In former times it was commercially dependent on fishing as an industry. The decline in fishing, however, has caused a shift in commercial emphasis and the town is now primarily a holiday resort. St Ives was incorporated by Royal charter in 1639. St Ives has been named best seaside town of 2007 by the Guardian and has become renowned for its number of artists.
The legendary origins of St Ives are attributed to the arrival of the Irish Saint Ia of Cornwall, in the 5th Century AD. The parish church in St Ives still bears the name of this saint, and the name St Ives itself derives from it.
The town was the site of a particularly notable atrocity during the Prayer Book rebellion of 1549. The English Provost Marshal (Anthony Kingston) came to St Ives and invited the portreeve, John Payne, to lunch at an inn. He asked the portreeve to have the gallows erected during the course of the lunch. Afterwards the portreeve and the Provost Marshall walked down to the gallows; the Provost Marshall then ordered the portreeve to mount the gallows. The portreeve was then hanged for being a 'busy rebel'.
Modern St Ives came with the railway in 1877, the St Ives Bay branch line from St Erth, part of the Great Western Railway. With it came the new generation of Victorian seaside holidaymakers. Much of the town was built during the latter part of the 19th century. The railway, which winds along the cliffs and bays, survived the Beeching axe and has become a tourist attraction itself. St Ives hit the national headlines on 28th July 2007, following a suspected sighting of a Great White Shark.
Porthmeor beach is St Ives' major surfing area, and is overlooked by holiday apartments. A hilly peninsula known locally as "The Island", which features a single chapel on the summit, separates the beach from Porthgwidden, a much smaller beach. Much of the town's outskirts are built on steep terrain.
A second celebration of perhaps greater antiquity is St Ives feast which is a celebration of the founding of St Ives by St Ia and takes place on the Sunday and Monday nearest February 3 every year. The day itself includes a civic procession to Venton Ia or the well of St Ia and other associated activities however, it is most notable for being one of the two surviving examples of Cornish Hurling (however, in a more gentle format than its other manifestation in St Columb Major).
A third festival is the St Ives May Day which is a modern revival of May Day customs that were at one time common throughout the west of Cornwall.
Finally every year in mid September there is the now famous St Ives September Festival. In 2008 this Festival will be celebrating its 30th anniversary from the 6th to the 20th September.
There is free music in many pubs in the town on almost every night, as well as large concerts. The Festival attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world to St Ives for the Festival Fortnight. For more information about the festival, go to www.stivesseptemberfestival.co.uk
St Ives also boasts its own 300 seat theatre whichs hosts some of the September Festival events. St Ives Threatre
St Ives railway station is linked to the Paddington to Penzance main rail route via the St Ives branch line which runs regular services to St Erth station. The line was opened in 1877 by the St Ives branch railway, but became part of the Great Western Railway in 1878. A Park-and-Ride facility for visitors to St Ives runs from Lelant Saltings railway station, which was opened on 27 May 1978 specifically for this purpose. The line also links the town to nearby Carbis Bay and Lelant.
The town also has regular services via National Express Coach to London Victoria, Heathrow and numerous other destinations throughout the UK. Other regular services connect St Ives to nearby towns and villages, such as Zennor, Penzance and St Just.