Hayle (Cornish: Heyl, lit. "estuary") is a small town, civil parish
and cargo port in west Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It is
situated at the mouth of the
Hayle River (which discharges into St
Ives Bay) and is approximately seven miles (11 km) northeast of
Hayle parish was created in 1888 from part of the now defunct Phillack
parish, with which it was later combined in 1935, and incorporated
St Erth in 1937. The modern parish shares boundaries with St
Ives to the west,
St Erth to the south, Gwinear and
Gwithian in the
east, and is bounded to the north by the Celtic Sea.
1.1 Early history
1.2 Medieval period
1.3 Industrial revolution
1.4 The 20th century
1.5 21st century
Harbour development and regeneration
2.2 World Heritage
2.4 Notable buildings
3 Local government
5 Notable residents
6 See also
8 Further reading
9 External links
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Although there is a long history of settlement in the
area dating from the Bronze Age, the modern town of
Hayle was built
predominantly during the 18th century industrial revolution. Evidence
Iron Age settlement exists at the fort on the hill above Carnsew
Pool where the Plantation now stands.
It is thought that Hayle, was an important centre for the neolithic
tin industry, trading not only Irish and Breton people, but also the
Phoenicians of the eastern Mediterranean. Evidence of this comes from
finds of imported pottery including Romano/Grecian Amphorae -
containers for wine and oil.
Although the Romans never conquered
Cornwall they may have had a
military presence in the
Hayle Estuary, and it is thought that the
rectangular churchyard at
St Uny's Church, Lelant
St Uny's Church, Lelant on the western shore
of the estuary is built within the outline of a Roman fort.
In those times the estuary looked a lot different from that of today.
It appears that the estuary was deeper and it was possible for boats
to go up the
River Hayle as far as where
St Erth Bridge is now
situated; the tide used to flow in and out of what is now Foundry
Square in the town, and at
Gwithian reached inland some considerable
distance toward Connor Downs.
The departure of the Romans was followed by an influx of Christian
missionaries, most of whom are said to have had Irish origins and
after whom many Cornish towns take their present name. The lives of
Saint Samson and
Saint Petroc report that both saints arrived in
Cornwall at the
Hayle Estuary, indicating that it was an established
port at least by the end of the 5th century.
During the mid-6th century, however, the area was held by the Breton
Tewdwr Mawr (Cornish: Teudar or Teudaric), who was said to have
martyred many of them—particularly the members of Saint Breaca's
mission—before returning to his patrimony around 577.
A number of inscribed stones from this period have been found in the
area. Two early stones have been found at Phillack, one bearing a
'Constantine' form of a Chi-Rho cross which may date to the 5th
Century. The most noteworthy inscribed stone is one uncovered during
the construction of a road in the grounds of Carnsew, and is now set
into a bank at The Plantation, a public park. The stone was discovered
in December 1843 by workmen, lying in a horizontal position at the
depth of four feet. When the stone was moved it broke into three
A Mr Harvey had it fixed into the wall of his path on Carnsew cliff,
within a few feet of the spot where it was discovered, and added a
more recent replica which lies next to it, where it has remained
since. The stone bears an inscription in Latin, but it is now
unreadable. The version that appears on the replica is translated as
"Here Cenui fell asleep who was born in 500. Here in his tomb he lies,
he lived 33 years." However, in her discussion of this inscription
Elisabeth Okasha passes over this transcription in silence, and
mentions only three early drawings of this inscription and the results
of more recent inspections, then tentatively offers her translation:
"Here in peace has rested Cunatdo [or Cunaide]. Here he lies in the
tomb. He lived for 33 years."
While physical and documentary evidence indicates that the port
continued to be of importance through the Middle Ages, it was the
Industrial Revolution that saw the town and port of
Hayle grow to
resemble the town as seen today.
Domesday survey in 1086 shows that the town of
Hayle was not yet
in existence. The manor of Connerton ("Conarditone") is recorded as
Hayle Estuary with the manor centred on Conerton, close
to the present day village of Gwithian. This was held by the King and
was the headmanor of the hundred of Penwith.
It is from Conerton that the name of the present day settlement of
Connor Downs is derived. A number of scattered farmsteads are recorded
but no substantial settlement. By the 13th century Conerton was owned
Arundel family until it was purchased by the Cornish Copper
Company in the early 19th century.
The first documentary evidence of any settlements around the Hayle
Estuary is in 1130 when
Phillack Church and surrounding dwellings were
recorded as "Egloshayle", meaning the church (eglos) on the estuary
(heyl), with the church being dedicated originally to St Felec, as
appears in a 10th-century Vatican codex.
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Hayle was initially a coal importing and ore exporting port but Hayle
was initially dwarfed by nearby Angarrack, where a tin smelter was
built in 1704 and mills and stamps converted/constructed to process
the ore. Hayle's role was simply to serve as a convenient point to
land coal from South Wales, which was then taken to
Angarrack by mule.
In 1710 a copper and tin smelter was built at Mellanear Farm on the
Mellanear stream which prospered for many years
Perhaps the first major development at
Hayle was the construction of
the first modern quay by John "Merchant" Curnow, in the 1740s, to
service the growing mining industry. In 1758 the Cornish Copper
Company (CCCo) moved from
Camborne and set up a copper smelter at
Copperhouse Creek) and this proved very successful, so
much so that a canal was built to bring vessels right up to the works
and additional land was purchased on both sides of the creek for
industrial use and providing housing for the workers.
The smelting process generated large amounts of waste. The copper slag
was cast into large heavy dark bricks or "Scoria Blocks" which were to
prove a very useful building material which were used and re-used in
the town and can be seen in many buildings. The blocks were sold at 9d
(about 3p) for 20 and given free to employees of the CCCo to build
their own houses. Sea Lane or Black Road (and Black Bridge) as it is
now known was built using these and waste used to fill in the upper
Copperhouse Creek creating Wilson's Pool and dividing it
Copperhouse Pool was subsequently modified to
serve as a tidal reservoir both to allow ships to travel up as far as
the dock, (where the Co-op supermarket now stands), and to flush or
sluice the channel to keep it clear of sand and silt.
In 1779 John Harvey, a blacksmith from nearby Carnhell Green,
established a small foundry and engineering works in the area, now
known as Foundry, to supply the local mining industry. The business
flourished and by 1800 employed more than 50 people. It went from
strength to strength through both professional and family partnerships
with a series of great engineers and entrepreneurs. Harvey & Co
may be best remembered for producing beam engines, which not only
served locally but were exported worldwide. The company also produced
a range of products ranging from hand tools to oceangoing ships,
including the SS Cornubia and the world's first steam-powered rock
As Harvey's and the Cornish
Copper Company continued to thrive, the
rivalry between the two grew into open hostility. Disputes regularly
erupted over access to the sea as The Cornish
controlled the dock and the tidal sluice which they had built at
Copperhouse. Harveys acted to break the Cornish
monopoly by constructing their own harbour by deepening Penpol Creek
and building a dock. They even constructed their own tidal reservoir
and sluice by creating Carnsew Pool. Harvey's operated a "Company
Store policy" forcing workers to buy their provisions from Harvey's
Emporium and prohibiting the development of any independent shops.
When this policy was finally brought to an end a number of shops
Prior to 1825 anyone wanting to go from
Hayle to St Ives or Penzance
had to cross the sands of
Hayle Estuary or make a significant detour
River Hayle at the ancient
St Erth Bridge. Guides took
travellers across the sands, but, even with guides, it was sometimes a
perilous journey and the shifting sand and racing tide claimed several
lives. Because of this major obstacle to trade, a turnpike trust was
formed, with Henry Harvey a trustee, to build the causeway which now
takes the road below the plantation west to the Old
Costing £5000 in 1825, the investors charged a toll to use the
causeway to recover their costs.
As Hayle's prosperity grew the foundry and smelter owners invested in
the nearby mining industry. There was relativity little mining in and
Hayle itself, with
Wheal Alfred and Wheal Prosper (near
Gwithian), being the only mine of any note, the nearest significant
mines being around Helston. As Hayle's involvement in the mining
Helston grew it eventually reached the point in 1833
that it replaced
Helston as the local tin coinage (Stannary) town,
although this was short-lived as the
Stannary system was abolished in
Hayle viaduct from the modern station platform
From 1831-61 the
Hayle and Bristol Steam Packet Company operated Steam
Packet services which from 1837 connected with the newly opened
Redruth Railway. Designed from the outset to carry both goods
and passengers the
Hayle Railway's terminus was in
under the present viaduct. Steam was introduced onto the
in 1843 but the construction of the railway meant that only light
engines could be used, whilst the incline at
Angarrack also remained a
In 1852 a new railway was opened spanning the valley on the impressive
Angarrack viaduct and passing through
Hayle on a new wooden supports
Foundry Square which were later replaced with the current stone
Harbour Branch line was closed in 1982 and the station
buildings and signal box were demolished at the same time. The
original station in
Foundry Square remained until after the Second
World War when it was demolished.
Hayle reached their peak in the early/mid-19th century
but, along with the other foundries and engineering works in Hayle,
began a long and slow decline. Harvey's acquired the Cornish Copper
Company in 1875 but the downturn continued. The engineering works and
Foundry were closed in 1903, although the company continued to trade
as general and builders merchant, eventually merging with UBM to
become Harvey-UBM in 1969.
Royal National Lifeboat Institution
Royal National Lifeboat Institution stationed a lifeboat at Hayle
in 1866. A boat house was built for it in 1897, but after it was
closed in 1920 it was moved to a site near the power station where it
was used as a store for about 60 years before being demolished. The
first lifeboat (Isis) was replaced in November 1887; the third
and final boat, the Admiral Rodd arrived in 1906. A memorial to
Hayle's volunteer lifeboat crews has been placed in the Isis Gardens
beneath the viaduct on the site of the town’s first railway station.
In 1888, the National Explosive works were established on Upton Towans
(giving it the alternative name "Dynamite Towans"). Originally built
to supply the local mining industry, it soon grew to supply the
military and, during the First World War, employed over 1500 people.
The remote location on the Towans proved a wise move as there were a
number of accidents resulting in explosions.
The 20th century
Hayle in the
Copperhouse Pool at high-tide
Explosive manufacture ceased in 1920, although parts of the site were
used as an explosives store until the 1960s. The area is now a nature
reserve over which people are encouraged to roam.
1910 saw the opening of
Hayle Power Station
Hayle Power Station on Harvey's Towans. It was
coal-fired and the coal was supplied by ship from South Wales until
the station was closed in 1977. At the same time
also closed to commercial shipping, although a locally important
fishing fleet, specialising mainly in shellfish remained.
Until the early 20th century
Hayle had two very distinct areas of
settlement around the competing foundries but slowly buildings began
to appear between the two communities. St Elwyn’s Church, the
Passmore Edwards Institute and a new Drill Hall all appeared within a
few years of each other, and housing followed. The Passmore Edwards
Institute was just one of a series of institutes and libraries built
Cornwall by its eponymous benefactor, who had made a
fortune in the publishing business. The town council used it for
offices for many years but moved to the Community Centre in April
In the years between the World Wars a number of small works were
established on North Quay, including a glass works, a small oil depot
and an ICI plant for producing bromine–a fuel additive for high
octane aviation fuel. This additive increased the power of
aircraft such as Hurricanes, Spitfires, Lancasters and Mosquitoes.
All are now closed and most of the buildings have been demolished. The
metalworking business of J & F Pool, founded in 1862, survived in
Copperhouse producing perforated and fabricated metal.[clarification
needed] The engineering tradition continues with the more recent small
specialist firms of Bassett Engineering and Rigibore which specialise
in tooling and precision engineering products from the Guildford Road
Industrial Estate. Rigibore provides tooling to a global market and
offers revolutionary products for hole boring. Bassett Engineering
offer a wide range of engineering services to the Ministry of
In autumn 2011 there was a large landslip on the North Cliff and the
coastal footpath had to be diverted.
Disused quay in
Hayle's position by the sea and its 3 miles of golden sandy beaches
allowed it to develop as a holiday destination. Indeed,
has much holiday accommodation. The sand dunes or Towans are the
favoured location for a number of holiday villages and caravan and
camping sites. The
Gwithian beach near
Godrevy is picturesque and a
popular area for water-related sports including surfing, windsurfing
and body-boarding.
The local community radio station is Coast FM (formerly Penwith
Radio), which broadcasts on 96.5 and 97.2 FM.
Harbour development and regeneration
Hayle Estuary from Towans.
Since the 1980s,
Harbour has been the focus of several projects
and schemes aimed at regenerating the local economy of Penwith. In the
1980s, well-known businessman
Peter de Savary
Peter de Savary fronted an attempt to
develop the harbour area but ultimately failed to attract financial
support to bring his plans to fruition. Despite several other similar
schemes, today the harbour is still not regenerated. In 2004, ING Real
Estate, an international property development company, became the
Hayle harbour  and started to purchase land within the
immediate vicinity of their planned project area.
In April 2008, ING submitted an outline planning application to the
planning department of
Penwith District Council. As of November 2009,
the granting of outline planning permission still depends on the
Section 106 Agreement being agreed, a sticking point to this is
finalising traffic and transport improvements.
Outside of the harbour area,
Hayle has been the site of a number of
successful regeneration schemes; including the ongoing Harveys Foundry
project which has seen the development of business and residential
units in the hope of attracting employment to the
Hayle area; and
projects being progressed through the
Hayle Area Plan Partnership.
Building has been started on an Asda on the harbour in recent months.
St Ives Bay
St Ives Bay Holiday Park in
Hayle is one of many holiday destinations
in the town, this picture features
The townscape of
Hayle and its historic harbour were part of the
initial submission of the
Cornwall and West Devon historic mining
landscape World Heritage bid. On 13 July 2006 it was announced that
the bid had been successful and that the historic mining landscape of
Cornwall and West Devon would be added to World Heritage
Hayle railway station
Hayle railway station is close to
Foundry Square, at the east end of
the viaduct. It is also linked to the harbour area along a footpath
that used to be the branch railway line serving the quays. It is
First Great Western
First Great Western and
CrossCountry with local services to
Plymouth and services to destinations including London Paddington,
Manchester Piccadilly and beyond. National Express run 3 daily
Hayle stopping at
Foundry Square and Copperhouse, they
1 x 330 coach to
Nottingham with major stops at Camborne, Redruth,
Newquay, Bodmin, Plymouth, Bristol,
Birmingham and Leicester.
2 x 500 coaches to London Victoria with major stops at Camborne,
Redruth, Truro, St Austell, Liskeard, Plymouth,
Taunton and London
Hayle (St Elwyn's Church in the background)
A famous landmark is
Godrevy Lighthouse, situated at the eastern end
Hayle Towans, said to have inspired Virginia Woolf's novel To the
The church of St Elwyn was built in 1886-88 to the design of J. D.
Sedding. According to Pevsner it is "loud outside ... and dull
Trevassack Manor is a house of the 17th to 18th century; there is a
datestone of 1700. Bodriggy House is of granite, ca. 1710.
For the purposes of local government
Hayle is a town and elects its
own town council. The principal local authority in the area is
Hayle is twinned with
Pordic in Brittany, France.[citation
John Gilbert Cock DCM MM (14 November 1893 – 19 April 1966) Born in
Hayle, had the distinction of being the first Cornishman to play
football, and score, for the
England national team. Cock played for
Huddersfield Town, Chelsea, Everton,
Plymouth Argyle & Millwall.
Cock was a decorated World War I soldier, and an actor. Cock ended his
first class playing career with 234 Football League goals from 391
matches. He managed Millwall between 1944 and 1948, leading them to
the War Cup South final at Wembley in 1945, where they lost to
Chelsea. He made his
England debut against
Ireland in 1919, and scored
after 30 seconds.
Henry Jenner, antiquary, scholar of the Cornish language.[citation
Cyril Richard Rescorla, policeman and soldier, was born in the town
and served with distinction in the British and American armed forces.
He later died in the 11 September 2001 attack on the World Trade
Center, New York City, United States, after evacuating over 2,700
Morgan Stanley from one of the towers which was
collapsing. A memorial stone in his honour stands in the town. He is
featured in the books We Were Soldiers Once...And Young, by Joseph
Galloway and Harold Moore, and, more prominently, in The Heart of a
Soldier, by James B. Stewart.
Benjamin William Richards (world's first blind scrabble champion) was
born in the town and is known for his use of sonar in professional
scrabble tournaments.
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Caspar John, GCB (22 March 1903 – 11 July
First Sea Lord
First Sea Lord from 1960-63. Moved to
Hayle after retiring and
later died there.
St Michael's Hospital, Hayle
^ "List of Place-names agreed by the MAGA Signage Panel" (PDF).
Cornish Language Partnership. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29
July 2014. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
^ Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 203 Land's End
^ Cahill, Nick (July 2000). "
Hayle Historical Assessment Cornwall"
(PDF). Truro, Cornwall:
Cornwall Archaeological Unit. Retrieved 9
^ Olson, Lynette (1989) Early Monasteries in Cornwall. Woodbridge:
Boydell Press, p. 67.
^ Ford, David Nash. "King Tewdwr Mawr", earlybritishkingdoms.com;
accessed 1 December 2014.
^ Discussion, photo and bibliography in Elisabeth Okasha, Corpus of
Christian Inscribed Stones of South-west Britain (Leicester:
University Press, 1993), pp. 116-21
^ Thorn, Caroline et al., ed. (1979) Cornwall; entry 1.14. Chichester:
^ Cornish World timeline 1812 Archived 14 May 2008 at the Wayback
Machine., cornishworld.net; accessed 2 September 2017.
^ Leach, Nicholas (2006) . Cornwall's Lifeboat Heritage.
Chacewater: Twelveheads Press. p. 45.
^ "Hayle". The Cornishman (77). 1 January 1880. p. 5.
^ Leach, Nicholas (2002).
Fowey Lifeboats, an Illustrated History.
Stroud: Tempus Publishing. p. 19. ISBN 0-7524-2378-9.
^ Denton, Tony (2009). Handbook 2009. Shrewsbury: Lifeboat Enthusiasts
Society. p. 8.
Hayle Generating Station - a unique connection Histelec News; No 29
^ "Painting highlights raid changed war". This is Cornwall. Retrieved
2 September 2017.
^ Rigibore: company website
Hayle cliff fall "could happen again" experts warn". BBC. 10
October 2011. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
^ "Volunteer run
Penwith Radio to change its name to Coast FM".
falmouthpacket.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-02-04.
^ a b Pevsner, N. (1970) Cornwall; 2nd ed., rev. by Enid Radcliffe.
Penguin; pg. 80
Town Council. Retrieved 2011-09-11.
Wigley, Edward (1972) "Hayle: a new industrial town of the West" in:
Todd, A. C. & Laws, Peter The Industrial Archaeology of Cornwall.
New ton Abbot: David & Charles; pp. 86–102
Nick Cahill with the
Cornwall Archaeological Unit (July 2000) "Hayle
Historical Assessment Cornwall", Report for English Heritage
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hayle.
Hayle travel guide from Wikivoyage
Hayle at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
Cornwall Record Office Online Catalogue for Hayle
Ceremonial county of Cornwall
Council of the Isles of Scilly
St Columb Major
St Just in Penwith
See also: List of civil parishes in Cornwall
Population of major settlements
Places of interest
Outline of Cornwall
Index of Cornwall-related articles
Civil parishes of