St Erth is a civil parish and village in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It takes its name from Saint Erc, one of the many Irish saints who brought Christianity to Cornwall during the Dark Ages, and is at the old crossing point of the River Hayle. The Cornish name of the place derives from St Uthinoch of whom little is known. The old coaching road once led through the village, before the building of the Causeway in 1825 along the edge of the Hayle Estuary. Prior to 1825 anyone wanting to go from Hayle to St Ives or Penzance had to cross the sands of Hayle Estuary or make a significant detour crossing the River Hayle at the ancient St Erth Bridge.
The Star Inn, in St Erth village centre, is a fine coaching inn dating from the fourteenth/fifteenth centuries. It was along this route that tin was carried upcountry from the stannaries of Penwith. Guides took travellers across the sands, but, even with guides, it was sometimes a perilous journey and the shifting sand and racing tide claimed several lives. Because of this major obstacle to trade, a turnpike trust was formed, with Henry Harvey a trustee, to build the causeway which now takes the road below the plantation west to the Old Quay House. Costing £5000 in 1825, the investors charged a toll to use the causeway to recover their costs.
Trewinnard Manor is an early 18th-century house built on a different site from its medieval predecessor by the Hawkins family. Trelissick Manor is a medieval house remodelled in 1688 for the Jacobite James Paynter, again remodelled in the 18th century and extended in the 19th century. Tredrea Manor is a 17th-century house but it was largely rebuilt c. 1856. The front is of five bays built in ashlar.
St Erth Sand Pits
St Erth Sand Pits was the site of choice for the extraction of clay for the fixing of candles to the helmets of miners. It also was the site of significant fossil finds and in 1962 was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). However, the main use of the sand in this location was for the metal foundries throughout Cornwall and beyond. The sand grains are found coated with a thin film of clay. With gentle pressure and the correct percentage of water the sand grains will bind together and can be used for making a sand mould into which molten metals can be poured from making engineering castings. A good source of clay for the fixing of candles to the helmets of miners was St Agnes Beacon.
World War Two
During the Second World War both Italian and German prisoners of war were based in St Erth although, as a small camp, it does not appear to have been officially recorded. St Erth played a major role in spying on Germany through listening in to messages, pinpointing where they were coming from and reporting back to Hut 6 at Bletchley. St Erth Radio Station was top secret and an important part of a network of sites scattered across the UK. Its main role was to intercept and listen to the radio messages of the Abwehr (the German Secret Service). These radio signals were sent, using the Enigma machine, in a 5 letter coded format. The intercepted codes were telegraphed to Arkley Hall, sorted then on to Bletchley Park for decryption. The main Radio Station site was situated about a mile out of the village at the ‘top of the hill’. Preliminary building work began in 1938 and by 1939 radio operators and other technical staff started arriving from around the country. As the war effort grew, a second site was established at Mably Farm near Townsend. It consisted of a 6 metre diameter steel ‘tank’ that was buried underground to avoid aerial detection. The station was run initially by the Post Office for MI8 but early in the war MI6 took over and an umbrella organisation called the Radio Security Service (RSS) ran the station at the two sites until the end of hostilities. Over a 100 people worked around the clock throughout the war.
It is possible to drive to St Erth from the main road in Cornwall, the A30. Once you near Hayle, you will see signs to St Erth.
There are multiple bus stops in and around St Erth.
St Erth has a railway station on the Cornish main line, with services running to London Paddington and beyond.
The nearest airport is Newquay International near Newquay.
St Erth is a small village. It can easily be walked around.
- 1 St Erth's Church, St Erth. St Erth’s Church is a Grade I listed parish church.
- 1 BK Fisheries. Fish can be bought from BK Fisheries to the south part of the village.
As with much of Cornwall, St Erth has Internet and Wi-Fi, but it may drop in and out.