What a fabulous day. I was very lucky to be allowed to look through the Mevagissey Harbour Trust’s historical records. I have been browsing through their ledgers from their inception in 1774 and looking at schematics for the various stages of pier buildings, there really is something exciting about getting to look at such old documents. The first ledger is dated 1774 and minutes the inaugural meeting of the Trustees, held in The Ship. The book is bound in Ling skin! Ling is a long thin cod-like fish. It’s marvellous.
Anyway, exciting bindings aside. I soon discovered that it was almost 126 years ago, to the day that the harbour was devastated by the Great Blizzard of 1891. Beginning on Monday the 9th of March and lasting for around a week a massive blizzard blew across the country from the east. Across the country, 200 people and 6,000 animals died. Twenty-eight ships were sunk and the cost to shipping, businesses and individuals was incalculable. An easterly wind is the cruellest for Mevagissey but this wind proved to be Mevagissey’s greatest devastation. The south pier had been extended and rebuilt in 1888 at great expense and yet three years later the storm lashed through the pier, breaking it down and leaving massive breaches where the sea stormed in. The outer harbour was full of stone from the pier and the lighthouse on the end, whilst standing, was now inaccessible, and the storm and snow raged on.
Sometimes this book just writes itself!