To fishermen familiar with the much larger and more numerous mackerel boats the new Jumbos would have seemed particularly diminutive and so were ironically nick-named after London Zoos' famous African elephant - the biggest creature in captivity.
Jumbo had caused a storm of protest in 1882 following its controversial sale to the Barnum & Bailey Circus in the USA.
Celeste on her Launch Day sails to meet Happy Return arriving from Penzance. (photo: R.Manley)
HISTORY OF THE JUMBO
The Jumbo class was a late development in the history of the St.Ives fishery relecting a growing preference for smaller inshore boats. As such they represent the epitome of traditional sailing boat design resulting from generations of trial and error.
The first were registered in 1885, although some may have been built earlier, and were engaged in netting herring and pilchard, hand-lining, and crabbing. By 1889 some 23 boats, varying radically in size and construction (including a converted ships' lifeboat) were listed as 'jumbos'.
Despite their constrasting size both these boats shown here were classed as 'Jumbos' and are typical of the St.Ives shape which enabled the vessel to remain upright when taking the ground. Legs would have been torn off in a crowded harbour, as shown below. The one on the right (above) and those against the quay (below) are so similar to 'Celeste' they are almost certainly from William Paynters' yard.
Perhaps the reason the Jumbo faded so quickly from popular memory is that the class was so short-lived. Only 15 years after their emergence, the fishery was in rapid decline. By the 1920's most had been broken up or sold away.
Lengthened and motorised, a few were given a new lease of life noteably
Hilda SS69 (formerly Margaret Roach) which was sold to Rye in 1945.
Photos reproduced by courtesy of The St.Ives Museum
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