The Huer's Hut

The distinctive small, round, white shape of the Huer's Hut with it's disproportinately large chimney can be made out from miles down the coast. Perched on the cliff top high above the harbour the building is thought to date back to the 14th century when it was used as a lookout by a huer. The huer's job was to watch for the tell tale signs of pilchard shoals and then alert the townsfolk to their arrival.

The Huer's Hut - Newquay
The Huer's Hut

Upon spotting such a shoal the huer would alert the town with cries of 'Hevva, Hevva!' ('Here they are!') where upon the townsfolk would drop everything to rush down to the harbour to launch the fleet and prepare for to land the tons of fish.

Spotting the pilchards was not the end of the huer's duties - once the fishing boats were in position the huer would also direct the movement of the boats at sea. His semaphore-like signals made with two 'bushes' - originally small furze bushes covered with cloth - were clearly visible from the water. The bushes were sometimes used to signal news to local men on passing ships too, like the birth of a child to their wives!

On the outside the hut has a large typically Cornish, late, medieval chimney and a narrow stairway leading to it's flat roof. There are two windows with 'drip moulds' (whatever they may be!). Inside there is an early fireplace which may have been altered during restoration work in the 1830's. The hut is now a grade II listed building.

Huer's Hut - Newquay
Huer's Hut - Newquay

The huer's job required a certain degree of skill and was quite a responsibility in it's day as the excerpt from an 1848 advertisment testifies:
"Wanted, for a Pilchard Sean, at Newquay a steady intelligent man as huer, and an active man, with some decision about him as master seaner. None need apply but those who have had much experience in Pilchard Fishing."

It is thought that previous to it's use by the huer the hut may have been a hermitage with the hermit entrusted to lighting a shipping beacon to guide shipping.