THE MUSEUM BUILDING
The building that houses the museum is a museum piece in its own right. Dating from 1745 it was part of a boat builder's yard that at one time extended to the far corner of the cliff. It was built straight into the rock face that you can see behind the kitchen dresser. When it was first built, boats were constructed on the ground floor, while the first floor was the carpenter’s workshop and the top floor was used as a store. As the boatyard became more successful the yard expanded outwards and was a hive of activity for many years.
When the last boat builder to work in this building, Arthur Frazier, retired, he kindly offered to sell the building to the museum at a reduced cost and thanks to the generosity of a local benefactor, Mrs Matson, the museum trustees were able to acquire the building for future generations.
Most of the roof supports are spars from old revenue-dodgers, refitted or broken up: the tools on display and the lathe upstairs, with its hand-turned wheel, built their replacements. Elsewhere in the museum a wider picture emerges of life in Mevagissey through a broad collection of artifacts.
On display are larger exhibits such as the apple crusher and cider press, an original horse-drawn, rotating barley thresher and a perfectly detailed Cornish kitchen with a working cloam oven. There is also a wonderful collection of photographs depicting village life in the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as many other small exhibits which perfectly depict life in Mevagissey over the years.
The public car parks on River and Church Street are within walking distance of the museum. The ground floor is suitable for wheelchairs and the disabled. Toilets are situated immediately outside the museum building. The museum is within easy distance of shops, pubs and cafes.
The fishing village of Mevagissey and the still smaller haven of Gorran are the very essence of a Cornwall which has remained true to its roots and embraced change only slowly. Both names belong to 6th Century Irish missionaries. Mevagissey's labyrinth of tiny streets twist and turn past ancient dwarf dwellings of cob and slate but head inexorably for the twin harbours which are its nerve centre - a place to watch the fishermen land their catch and mend their nets as they have since John Trewollas built the first pier in 1430.
Meva-ag-issey, means "Meva and Issey". The town of St Meva and St Issey was first recorded as a hamlet in 1313, however there were settlements in the locality long before that date as is shown by the uncovering of two Bronze Age burial urns at Portmellon.
Mevagissey is the largest fishing village in St Austell Bay. Its working harbour has an unbroken tradition of boat building since 1745. Fishermen still repair nets on the quayside, using ancient skills and modern materials. The fishermen are happy to take visitors out on angling or pleasure trips, and small motor boats can be hired for self-drive.
In the narrow streets leading off the harbour, craft workshops sit side by side with shops, art galleries, cafes, restaurants and pubs which were once the haunts of Cornish smugglers! Mevagissey is the home of the World of Model Railways Exhibition, an impressive collection of 2,000 models and a layout alive with 50 working trains, while across on the quayside there's the aquarium (in the old lifeboat house) and our treasured Mevagissey Museum.