Mr Stephens was an extremely wealthy man. he owned much land & property in St Ives, and had his fingers in many financial pies. In the early 1830’s a new opportunity was about to present itself to him.
The government of the time were extremely worried about the effect of spirits, especially gin, on the public. it was said that you get get “drunk for a penny, dead drunk for two-pence, clean straw for nothing”. The Beer Act of 1830 was an imaginative move (Gordon Brown please note) removing the entire duty on beer and cider. It also made it possiblee for any ratepayer to sell these on payment of a small annual licence. The result: within 12 months 24,432 new retailers of beer and cider had set themselves up in business throughout the country!
Which brings us back to Harry Stephens. In 1832 he bought a half share in a property in Fore Street. I suspect it had been used as a lodging house provding accomodation for those working and visiting the Downalong area of St Ives. That same year Capt. Samuel May (ret) became tenant of the property which was listed in the town records as The Castle Inn. It was obviously a shrewd move by Mr Stephens and the venture prospered. Just two years later he bought the other half share: the entire property was all his.
Where did Henry Stephens live? His mansion was Tregenna Castle high on the hill overlooking the town. Tregenna Castle and The Castle Inn: the reason behind the pub’s name seems obvious.
In June 1877 the railway branch line linking St Ives to St Erth was opened. It was the last track in England to be laid to the Broad Gauge (7ft) standard. Six years earlier the Stephens family estate in St Ives (including The Castle Inn) had been sold by auction. In 1878 the Great Western Railway Company aquired the St Ives branch line. They soon purchased Tregenna Castle and converted it into a spacious hotel – part of their rapidly developing holiday business.
Excert taken from The Castle Inn Easter Beer Festival Guide 2004 by Michael Bridge.