Welcome to The Mermaid. You’ll find us in the famous and picturesque fishing port of St.Ives in Cornwall, located in the far South West of England.
With home to some of the countries most beautiful beaches, food, walking, and surf; it’s also linked historically to a darker time, when the hidden coves were popular with the smugglers and pirates of old who would use them to bring ashore, and store their smuggled treasures. It is said that The Mermaid too was once linked to the harbour by one of the many tunnels that criss-crossed the town.
As its present owners, we’ve worked hard to maintain the character and charm that this old part of St Ives still displays to this day. The restaurant also proudly displays a great collection of vintage photographs of St Ives on its walls, pictures of fishing boats and fisherman; relatives of whom still supply us with lobsters and other catch to this day. Old Pews from the local church make up the seating in our always popular booths. Fishing nets and boat lights hang from the ceiling, and along with other memorabilia, all contribute to the unique character that is The Mermaid.
Situated in the old fishing quarter, less than 100 yards from the Harbour and in the older and more attractive part of St. Ives, known as ‘Down-A-Long’.
The narrow cobbled streets, ablaze with flowers in the spring and summer months, are as quaint and fascinating as the name suggests.
The Mermaid started its very interesting life as a “Sail Loft” where sails and nets were stored and mended, but in 1904 it became ‘Tucker’s Pop Factory’ owned by the Tucker family, [to this day it is still known affectionately by many local people as Tucker’s]. Lemonade was made and bottled at the factory in the old fashioned bottles with glass marble stoppers. The marbles of course were very popular with children, who would break the bottles to get the marbles to play with. Because of this the bottles nowadays are quite collectable – and we ourselves are fortunate enough to have been able to collect some Tucker’s memorabilia, which we have on display in the bar.
From the bottling plant the bottles were loaded on to a horse and cart at the rear of the building, but in later days John Tucker purchased a Ford sedan from which he removed the back, turning it into a dray – in fact, so forward looking were they that Mrs. Tucker was the first woman driver in Cornwall, and carried on driving to the age of eighty four.
In the summer months an extra five ladies were taken on to help with production. Sadly though, due to more stringent hygiene laws and strong competition, the ‘Pop Factory’ closed its doors finally in the 1950’s.
After the factory had been empty for a few years, Francis Coudrill acquired it and renovated it, turning it into ‘The Mermaid Studio’. Francis, a celebrated ventriloquist of television fame, was responsible for the creation of the puppet character ‘Hank the Cowboy’, who appeared on the BBC for many years.
Professor Sir Christopher Frayling, Rector and Vice Provost of the Royal College of Art and Chairman of the Arts Council said about him:
Francis Coudrill introduced the first generation of post-war baby-boomers – the lucky ones who watched television at home in the early 1950s – to TV animation and to the European Western, both at the same time.
Hank Rides Again involved puppetry (for the studio introductions to each episode), drawings, cut-out animations, several distinct voices (including that of the horse Silver King, who was something like Disney’s Goofy) and sound effects – all supplied by Francis Coudrill, who made a personal appearance in a check shirt each week with Hank as his ventriloquist’s dummy. The end of each episode, a back view of Hank riding off into the sunset and descending below the horizon line, is still etched in my memory. My interest in European Westerns was first kindled by Hank Rides Again. So was my interest in artisanal kitchen-table animation – an aesthetic challenge to the cartoons produced by the big American studios…
Francis Coudrill lives on, for all those of us who are about to be eligible for our bus passes and who remember sitting in cramped front rooms dreaming of wide open spaces and listening to tall stories which grew taller in the telling.
When Francis retired, The Mermaid change hands and was converted yet again – this time into a wine bar and then later still into a restaurant. This conversion was done by Norman Coburn – again of television fame – but in this case the opposite end of the spectrum. Norman was an actor and is probably best known for playing the character of ‘Fisher’ in the Australian ‘soap’ – Home and Away.
In 1980 it was taken over by its present owners who have completely rebuilt it with affection and care, and who, in doing so have made it probably St. Ives’ most interesting and romantic restaurant.
We hope you’ll visit us soon.