Robert Jones website

John McWilliams

John has spent most of his life in St Ives where his gradfathers arrived as Customs officer over a century ago. The family bought their first boat when he was 11, though his father had sailed his skiff Sunflower with the Trevorrow brothers, in the 1930s. John spent much of his childhood in boats and made friends with the breton fishermen who regularly anchored in St Ives Bay until the mid 1960s. He ran errands for them, went to sea with them and sailed to France in the Audierne crabber Marie Francoise aged 15. He went to sea in the local long liners and drifters and saw these traditional fisheries which are now extinct. It was a close run thing whether he had a career teaching or fishing. In the end teaching won; just.

Retired, John has a busy life researching and sometimes painting local maritime history. When he paints our local fishing boats, he is interested in what's happening. The crew are busy with their work, whether hauling long lines, pilchard nets or crab pots. He likes the picture to tell the story. There are likely to be many hours of research, John says he loves digging up stories. The boats are interesting but it's the people who make the stories.

He is a volunteer at St Ives Archive & Penlee House Museum's photograph research group. In 2007 published Breton Fishermen in Cornwall & Brittany A CENTURY OF FRIENDSHIP, the result of several years' research into the story of his childhood friends. He has written many articles. In 2010 he was made a Bard of the Cornish Gorseth for his work in Cornish Maritme History. He chose the Bardic name Jowan, Cornish for John.