THIS OBJECT IS PART OF THE PROJECT 'A HISTORY OF CORNWALL IN 100 OBJECTS'.
ST IVES MUSEUM. This huer's horn and pair of semaphore bushes may be 130-140 years old and were last used in 1905 'when the last big take of pilchards was harvested'.
The horn is made of sheet metal which has been soldered together and tinned in the usual way. From a good vantage point on the cliff the huer used both horn and bushes to direct the seine boat to where the shoal was. The shoal was then encircled with nets.
For 400 years the pilchard fishery was pre-eminent in Cornwall, especially where there were sandy porths and bays on the south and north coasts, St Ives Bay being the most prominent. Pilchards are migratory fish and the season was a short one: six weeks in late summer or autumn. St Ives had a number of seine companies and in 1870 these numbered 286. Local gentry invested in seines and built large processing cellars or palaces. Each seine company had its own huer or shoal spotter.
Photo: Bernie Pettersen