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18 June 2014
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Legacies - Cornwall

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The huer's Hut, Newquay
© Brian Biscard
Hue and Cry

Looking at this whitewashed building shimmering in the sun, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in the Mediterranean.

Detail of the huer's hut
© Brian Biscard
But, in fact, this curious structure overlooks the bay at Newquay. The "huer's hut", as it is known, is one of very few buildings remaining which recalls the once thriving pilchard fishing industry in Cornwall.

At one time the Cornish coast was dotted with these huer's huts, but most of them were rather primitive wooden structures, and the one at Newquay would have been like a 5 star hotel in comparison.

The lookout

In the past these huts provided shelter for lookouts known as 'huers', who kept watch for the pilchard shoals that passed by the coast each year.

View of the bay from the huer's hut, Newquay
© Brian Biscard
Perched high on a cliff, the hut is clearly visible from the sea and has a commanding view over it. Made of stone, the Newquay hut has stood the test of time much better than others, some of which had thatched roofs that often needed repairing because of their exposed position.

Inside, the hut is extremely bare, its function simply to provide a place for the huer to cook, eat and take shelter when at work. Normally the huer would have been at his post from sunrise until sunset for three or four months of the year.

Huer's needed to concentrate, and it is said that a notice above the fireplace in one hut at St Ives even prohibited the playing of cards.

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Detail of the huer's hut, Newquay
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