History of the Ship Inn
The following notes were compiled by the late H.L.Douch who was the Curator of the Royal Instituition of Truro (Truro Museum) and sent to Graham Rideout who was the Landlord of the Ship Inn Pentewan in the 1980’s.
In June 1749 a sale was held at the sign of the ‘Ship Inn’ Pentewan and in May 1774 another sale at the house of John Sims in Pentewan. John Sims probably kept this older Ship Inn. The first notice of the Ship Inn where it is today is in the West Briton newspaper of January 29th 1836 when a son of the landlord, Thomas Varcoe died. In July of the same year the house was advertised as to let by tender described as ‘That excellent public house known by the name of the Ship Inn situated at Pentewan and now in the occupation of Mr. T.Varcoe the Proprietor. The house is newly built and contains eleven rooms besides brew house and all other requisite appurtenances’.
It is thought that most pubs on the south coast of Cornwall called the Ship Inn would have been originally named after a local ship which had a special significance to people in the locality. As time went on knowledge of which ship it may have been would have been forgotten so the public house just became the ‘Ship Inn’.
Thomas Varcoe was still at the Ship Inn in September 1839 when his wife died. At some point between then and 1856 the landlord changed, the new one was Timothy Sarah. In November 1861 he was fined £50 with £5 costs for brewing without making a prior entry on the excise form and for having above his door – without the appropriate licence – the words ‘to sell tobacco’.
In December 1865 Timothy Sarah was found dead in bed. The entry for this in the local paper refers to him as; ‘for many years of the ‘Hawkins Arms’ Pentewan’. He must have been landlord in the Hawkins Arms before moving to the Ship Inn. Another entry in the same newspaper records that; ‘Timothy Sarah of the Ship Inn Pentewan who supplied horses for the working of the tram-railway to the dock at Pentewan was found dead in his bed on Sunday’. The inquest stated, his death was by natural causes. He was 66 years old. He was succeeded as landlord by Captain John Kellow. Probably the same John Kellow who had been a Master Mariner. At some point between 1873 and 1892 Kellow was followed by John Hocking who died in 1892.
James Geach the next landlord applied for a seven day licence in 1895 but was turned down on a technicality. In 1898 he was fined for keeping late hours. An article in the West Briton newspaper of 3rd August 1903 records; ‘There are those living who remember when it took three public houses to keep going the licence trade at Pentewan, the Jolly Sailor, the Hawkins Arms and the Ship Inn. Fortunately the first two have been turned to better purpose’.
By 1911 the landlordship of the Ship Inn had changed again. In March of that year it was reported in the local newspaper that Mr. C Weaver of the Ship Inn Pentewan was coming down East Hill St Austell in his pony and trap. The horse bolted and a passenger, a boy named Ernest Dungey, jumped out unhurt near the White Hart. The pony then turned down Duke Street breaking several panes of glass. Mr Weaver was unhurt and the pony was only slightly cut.
The lower end of the lounge bar of the Ship Inn was formerly a cottage which was next door and was taken over to make the pub a larger building.
The pub known as the Hawkins Arms which was where The Cove shop and café’are today, (2012), in 1837 the landlord was Joseph Phillips and in 1839 William Davies.
The pub the Jolly Sailor was situated in the square, where today the building houses two separate flats. This pub was destroyed by fire around 1878. In 1856 when the landlord was William Marshall the pub was advertised to let. A Mr Hennah was the next mine host and the licence was transferred from him to John Hocking in 1869. The licence was not renewed at the 1878 Brewsters Sessions.
Courtesy of Robert Evans local historian.