Mevagissey is a popular Cornish fishing village, thronged with tourists in the summer. Whilst, now, it is said its main industry could be tourism, it remains a working fishing village with an inner and outer harbour.
It is situated on the Cornish Riviera, 5 miles from St. Austell. It is named after two Irish saints, St. Meva and St. Issey. This name is first recorded in the 15th century. In the 18th century and 19th century, it grew rich on the proceeds of pilchard fishing and as for many Cornish coastal villages, smuggling. Vast quantities were exported, the biggest customer being Italy. In 1724, 4,000 tons were exported. The industry waned at the end of the 19th century, but there has been a resurgence in this century of the pilchard fishing industry. The pilchard is known as the Cornish sardine. Over 70 fishing vessels are registered in Mevagissey, which land over £2,000,000 gross value of fish each year. It is a centre for shark fishing.
Mevagissey has picturesque narrow streets leading down to the harbour, retaining the charm of the 19th century. The cottages are often three storey, the upper ones being faced with slate or wood and many are bedecked in flowers. The narrow alleyways are interesting and lead to the gift shops, pubs and cafes, which cluster around the harbour. Here visitors love to gaze at the activity in the busy harbour of fishermen mending nets and repairing their vessels and landing their catch, which can be sold directly to the holidaymakers. At the end of North Quay is a small museum in an 18th century boat builder’s shed.
There is a regular ferry service from Mevagissey to Fowey across the bay. This departs from Lighthouse Quay and the voyage takes about 35 minutes. A walk up Polkirt Hill, provides spectacular views over the harbours, which then leads to Polkirt Beach and Portmellon, where there is a good sandy bathing beach.