St Mary's, Isles of Scilly
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Map of St Mary's, Isles of Scilly
St Mary's shown within Isles of Scilly
|OS grid reference|
|Unitary authority||Isles of Scilly|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||ISLES OF SCILLY|
|Police||Devon and Cornwall|
|Fire||Isles of Scilly|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
|UK Parliament||St Ives|
The main town, Hugh Town (Cornish: Tre Huw), was sold to the inhabitants by the British crown in 1949. The rest of the island belongs to the Duchy of Cornwall. Other settlements on the island are Old Town, Porthloo, Holy Vale, Maypole, Rocky Hill and Telegraph.
St. Mary's is the only island within the Isles of Scilly with a significant road network; in 2005 there were 619 cars and vans on St Mary's. The island also has taxis, a community bus service and conducted bus tours. Vehicles on the islands are exempt from annual MOT tests.
By air, the island is served by St. Mary's Airport. The following air services currently operate:
- Helicopter services were operated by British International Helicopters, from Penzance Heliport. This service ceased all operations at the end of October 2012. However in September 2014 plans were announced to re-open the links in 2015.
- Fixed-wing aircraft services, operated by Isles of Scilly Skybus, from Land's End, Newquay, Exeter, Bristol and Southampton.
By sea, the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company provides a passenger and cargo service from Penzance, which is currently operated by the Scillonian III passenger ferry, supported by the Gry Maritha cargo vessel. The other islands are linked to St. Mary's by a network of inter-island launches. The main harbour of St Mary's (and the Isles of Scilly) is at Hugh Town, and is called St Mary's Harbour.
There has been an RNLI lifeboat station on St Mary's since 1837. The first two lifeboats were kept in a boathouse on the town beach at Hugh Town. Following closure in 1855 the lifeboat station was re-opened in 1874 and a boathouse was built on the beach at Porth Cressa. In 1899 a new boathouse and slipway were built at Carn Thomas and the first motor boat arrived in 1919.
The lifeboatmen of St Mary's have saved many lives in the dangerous seas around the islands, and many have been awarded bravery medals for their courage.
John Wesley preached here on 13 September 1743. The Wesleyan Methodist Society was established in 1788 and the first chapel erected in 1790. This was replaced in 1828. The present Methodist church was built in 1899 by A.J. Trenear in Hugh Town and is part of the Isles of Scilly Methodist Circuit.
The Coastguard's Lookout Tower is also known as the Telegraph Tower. It was used by Radio Scilly for broadcasting. Dating from 1803, it was one of three gun towers built on St Mary's by Major Daniel Lyman. They were intended to accommodate 8-10 men and mount a 32-pounder carronade at the top. It was at this tower about 1898 that Guglielmo Marconi heard wireless signals transmitted from Porthcurno, a distance of 30 miles.
Harry's Walls are the remains of an unfinished artillery castle situated on a hilltop to the north-east of Hugh Town. It was begun in 1551 as part of a major phase of fortification on the Isles of Scilly, undertaken to counter threats from the French. It was left unfinished because the site was recognised to be unsuitable.
Giants Castle is a ruined monument on the coastal path between the airfield and Porthellick Bay.
The Garrison and Star Castle
Star Castle is at the centre of a fortification system around the west side of St Mary’s known as the Garrison. The walls of the castle take the shape of an eight-pointed star. It comprises an outer wall around the outcrop of Hew Hill, protecting the town and the castle, with strategically placed gun batteries at regular intervals around the outer wall, allowing covering fire at all angles.
The Star Castle was built in 1593 by the Surveyor of the Royal Works and mapmaker Robert Adams (d.1595), under the direction of Francis Godolphin, following the Spanish Armada of 1588. Fearing another Spanish invasion, in May 1593 Queen Elizabeth I ordered the construction of a fort and two sconces as a lookout for any intruder ships.
In 1740 Master Gunner Abraham Tovey transformed the Garrison building walls with gun batteries, including Colonel Boscawen's Battery, in a circular shape following the coast line of The Hoe. Star Castle is now a hotel.
The 14 metre metal tower lighthouse on Peninnis Head was built in 1911 as a replacement for the 1680 lighthouse in the centre of St Agnes. The lighthouse was converted from acetylene gas to electricity in 1992 and the original range of 17 nautical miles was reduced to nine in 2011.  The headland is within the Isles of Scilly Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and part of the Heritage Coast. It is also a Geological Conservation Review site for its Quaternary geomorphology and was first designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 1971 for both its biological and geological interests.
Porthellick Cove contains a memorial to mark the spot where the body of Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell was washed ashore after the 1707 Scilly naval disaster. This was one of the greatest maritime disasters in British history, when four ships (Association, Firebrand, Romney and Eagle) with nearly 2,000 sailors were lost.
The following is a list of some other locations on St Mary's:
- Lower Moors Nature Reserve
- Higher Moors Nature Reserve (see Porth Hellick)
- Holy Vale
- Porthloo Beach
- Watermill Cove
- Innisidgen Burial Chamber
- Isles of Scilly Golf Club, near Telegraph and Porthloo
- 1841 - 1,519 plus 26 in the Garrison
- 1861 - 1,424
- 1871 - 1,368
- 1881 - 1,290
- 1891 - 1,201
- 1901 - 1,355
- 1911 - 1,376
- 1921 - 1,196
- 1931 - 1,216
- 1951 - 1,625
- 1961 - 1,736
- 1971 - 1,958
- 1981 - 2,073
- 1991 - 1,600
- 2001 - 1,666
- 2011 - 1,723
- Motor Vehicles (tests) Regulations 1981 (SI 1981/1694)
- "A Sustainable Energy Strategy for the Isles of Scilly" (PDF). Council of the Isles of Scilly. November 2007. pp. 13, 21. Retrieved 21 August 2010.
- "Travel Information". ScillyOnLine. Retrieved 2012-05-10.
- "British International home page". British International Ltd. Retrieved 17 January 2007.
- "Isles of Scilly helicopter link 'could reopen in 2015'". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
- "Skybus Timetables". Skybus. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
- "Isles of Scilly Travel – Travel by sea". Isles of Scilly Travel. Retrieved 17 January 2007.
- Colvin, Howard M., ed., History of the King's Works, vol.3 (1975), pp.94-5, see also vol.4 (1982)
- Calendar State Papers Domestic, 1591-1594, London (1867), pp.346-7, 365-367
- Nikolaus Pevsner (1970) Cornwall; 2nd ed. (The Buildings of England). Penguin; p. 210
- Changes to lighthouse as it marks 100th year. Cornishman 28 July 2011. p 15.
- "Peninnis Head (St. Mary’s)" (PDF). Natural England. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- Isles of Scilly Golf Club
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