The Party on the Pier was an event held in Newlyn on Saturday 10th February 2011. The theme was Painting on the Pier and the public were invited to help scrape and paint the undersides of three old luggers or to set up their easels on the Quay and paint pictures of the boats. On the day, there were many painters both on the beach and on the pier. Families with young children set up their easels alongside well-known artists like Bernard Evans and Eric Ward, and made paintings of the boats. Alongside this there were other events, like the old fishwife portrayed by Liz Harman, who was willing to tell her story in the dialect, and the exhibition from the Newlyn Archive which occupied the old Fishermen’s Rest on the landside of the Old Quay. Visitors came from far afield including Jan Ruhrmund, mayor of Penzance.
The venue was Newlyn’s Old Quay, a small curving structure topped with a parapet wall, some 300 feet long and constructed of massive granite blocks without mortar. Situated on the western curve of Mount’s Bay, the quay was sheltered from prevailing winds by an arc of cliffs. In its heyday, it was capable of sheltering about thirty boats.
The Quay is the oldest structure in Newlyn. It was first recorded in 1437, when indulgences were offered by the church to those who contributed to its repair. It survived the Spanish raid of 1595, when Newlyn was burnt to the ground. Maybe the Mayflower tied up at the quay for water, on her journey to the Americas in 1620, a case that was made by Bill Best Harris of Plymouth Library and resulted in the plaque to the event placed above the old Quay.
The main theme for the Party on the Pier was Painting and the focus of the work was to be three ancient luggers, the Barnabas, the Ripple, and the Happy Return which were moored alongside the old quay for the event. The idea was that when the tide was out visitors would help with scraping and painting the undersides of the luggers.
The oldest lugger, SS 634 Barnabas was first registered on October 28 1881 as a Class 2 pilchard boat but later re-registered as a Class 1 mackerel driver. The number is said to have been chosen as it corresponds to the hymn ‘Will Your Anchor Hold’ in the Methodist hymn book. The boat has been restored by Cornish Maritime Trust. Some fifteen years its junior, SS 19 Ripple was built at St Ives and registered on October 16, 1896. During World War I, this 34ft sailing pilchard driver helped to feed the nation when other fishing boats had been requisitioned by the Navy. Before John Lambourn began its restoration (or resurrection) as a sailing lugger it had rested for 50 years in the Helford river as a summer houseboat retreat. The youngest boat, the Happy Return was built at Porthleven in 1904 and was being restored by Mounts Bay Lugger Association.