The Haven was described by Richard Cardew in his 1602 ‘Survey of Cornwall’ as …”open sandy bay, in whose mouth riseth a little hill, by every sea flood made an island and thereon a decayed chapel: it (the Haven) swarth road only to such small shipping as bring their tide with them, leaving them dry when the ebb hath carried away the salt.”
During this era only a few buildings such as storehouses, a quay house and a tidal mill existed along the riverside, the populace living and lodging at unkind Stratton. Despite this, the Haven was a hive of activity with ships importing limestone and coal from Wales, salt pans operating where the tennis courts now stand and lime-rich sand being collected from the beaches. So important was this occupation, that a Charter was granted for the trade in the 1400’s.
Commerce increased as the centuries rolled on any by the late 1700’s, despite the silting up of the quay and the encroaching sand dunes Bude dealt in imports and exports of brick, coal, culm, limestone, slate salt, sand, timber, wheat and bark for the tannery trade.
The mid 1800’s was the ‘heyday’ of Bude’s port, employing a great number of the town’s population of 2,000. With nearly 300 visiting vessels a year, an estimated 18,000 tons of goods were imported here. Trading opportunities for shipowners agents, merchants, as well as a shipyard flourished.
However with the arrival of the railway in 1898, commerce at the port saw a rapid decline.