THE PILCHARD PRESS
On the ground floor of the St. Ives Museum you can see the original Pilchard Fish Curing Cellar.
There were 4 different methods of extracting the oil from the pilchards, all of which can be seen in the Museum. As far as we are aware, this is the only display of all four pressing processes in the whole of the UK. In what was originally a fish curing cellar the 175 year old corbelled pressing ledge has been revealed. By means of original artefacts, the area displays its former usage by way of hogsheads being pressed by several means: corbelled, slot, beam and screw press can be seen. The last seine net used until three decades ago for enclosing shoals of Mullet gives but a little impression of the size of a huge pilchard seine net. Adjacent to this display can be viewed more artefacts relating to the heyday of the Pilchard Fishery regarding the curing and pressing of pilchards. Pressing stones - sea- worn granite boulders, with iron hooks inserted were used as weights to press the valuable oil from the cured fish. Thereafter, these same pilchards were despatched in casks called hogsheads by local sailing vessels to the Mediterranean in time for the Lent season. A screw press dating from 1880-90 shows how the pressure was applied to procure the oil from the salt cured pilchards.