The gateway to West Cornwall

Web: www.visitcornwall.com/destinations/hayle

Hayle Town Council


The town is proud of its beaches with three miles of golden sands which attract many thousands of visitors every year for both bathing and surfing. The town used to have the main A30 road running right through its centre, but now thankfully a by-pass carries the main road around the town. The Towans, Cornish for sand dunes, stand proud for all to see and are a rich source of wildlife and offer enjoyable coastal walks. There is a lighthouse at Godrevy Point where marvellous cliff walks along the Coastal Footpath take you from the Godrevy Beach Cafe to the spectacular Hell's Mouth and Hells Mouth Cafe. The population of the town was 8,902 at the 2011 census.

Hayle is one of only very few sheltered estuaries on Cornwall's north coast and, as such, has been a port used by small fishing boats from the very earliest times. However, the harbour entrance has never been easy and dredging has long been needed to counteract the silting up of the River Hayle.

Until 1825 the only way to avoid crossing the estuary on the shifting sands was the detour to the old St. Erth bridge. A new causeway was built around the estuary costing £5000 which was funded by toll charges.

1837 saw the opening of the Hayle-Redruth Railway. Designed from the outset to carry both goods and passengers the Hayle Railway's terminus was in Foundry Square under the present viaduct.

St. Elwyn's church is situated in the Foundry area of Hayle, close to the beach and harbour. It was built in 1886 to a design by John Dando Sedding. A key feature of St. Elwyn's church is the magnificent 'Friendship Window', designed by Clayton & Bell in 1933, which covers most of the west wall.

It was 150 years ago that the town was at the summit of its industrial glory. John Harvey's massive foundry complex dominated, producing steam engines for use not only in Cornwall's mines but mines the World over, and for many years there was a flourishing ship building industry. Coastal vessels would bring in supplies of coal and take on loads of copper and tin ore.

As Hayle's involvement in the mining industry grew it eventually reached the point in 1833 that it replaced Helston as the local coinage (Stannary) town, although this was short-lived as the Stannary system was abolished in 1838.

The fascinating and deadly rivalry of two companies - Harveys and the Cornish Copper Company led to open hostility in the town and split the town in half, with many families never setting foot outside their Company's boundary. The Cornish Copper Company was originally founded in 1758 by Sir Christopher Hawkins who developed a quay and canal through what is now Copperhouse Pool. They also established a tin and copper smelting works close to the Angarrack River. Harveys also operated a copper smelting plant at their site close to Penpol Creek. However the escalating cost of coal from South Wales made this work non-viable and both firms opened more profitable iron foundries and heavy engineering businesses.

John Harvey the local blacksmith began his extraordinary rise to entrepreneurial fame in 1779 by first servicing the mining industry, then through his foundry, casting everything from lamp standards to colossal stationary steam engines. Harvey was an exceptional businessman and knew talent when he saw it, forging relationships with individuals of great vision – none more so than Richard Trevithick who married into the Harvey family.

In 1819 Harvey's built a new 450 yard wharf and a number of permanent quays along the creek. The they dredged and deepened the harbour area to increase its capacity.

Finally, on 10th December 1867, the Harvey Company bought the Cornish Copper Company — by then known as Sandys, Carne & Vivian — and gained control of Hayle's harbour.

The early Hayle to Redruth Railway of 1837 supported both companies. Visitors to Hayle can easily retrace the route of the early line which ran from Foundry Square alongside Penpol Terrace to the North side of Copperhouse Pool and beyond to Redruth.

By 1875 the Harvey Company were masters of all they surveyed, they had bought out their great rivals the Cornish Copper Company and were known the world over for making giant steam engines but within thirty years the Foundry would be closed and the company would be a shadow of its former self. John Harvey had four sons but only Henry (1775-1850) survived to take over the foundry business, becoming an equal partner with his father in around 1801. The foundry began building its own ships in 1805, with the 50.8 tonne sloop 'Elizabeth'. The writing was on the wall after the first World War, Carnsew Dock and South Quay were now used to break up ships with most of the scrap metal being sent to South Wales. Sluicing of the Harbour carried on until 1972 but by 1977 commercial traffic had completely ceased. Harvey's Foundry finally closed in 1904.

The RNLI stationed a lifeboat at Hayle in 1866. A boat house was built for it in 1897, but it was closed in 1920.

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. In 1904 A terrible explosion at the dynamite factory killed five men and several others were injured.

1910 saw the opening of 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 Hayle Harbour was also closed to commercial shipping, although a locally important fishing fleet, specialising mainly in shellfish remained.

Since the 1980's, Hayle Harbour has been the focus of several projects and schemes aimed at regenerating the local economy of Penwith. The well-known businessman Peter de Savary fronted an attempt to develop the harbour area but ultimately failed to attract financial support to bring his plans to fruition

In 2004, ING Real Estate, an international property development company, became the owners of Hayle harbour with the intention to re-develop the area. In 2008 ING received outline approval to build 260 apartments on South Quay as part of its plans for Hayle Harbour. On 13th December 2013 work officially started on South Quay.

In August 2013 Hayle Heritage Centre was opened at John Harvey House on Foundry Square.

Hayle still has a railway station on the main line through Cornwall.

The town's Tourist Information Centre is at Hayle Library, Commercial Road, TR27 4DE.

Art Galleries

Foundry Gallery

Notable Residents

Francis Cargeeg, (1893-1981), a coppersmith from Hayle.

John Gilbert "Jack" Cock DCM MM (1893-1966), was born in Hayle and had the distinction of being the first Cornishman to play football, and score, for the England national team.

Rosamunde Pilcher OBE (1924-2019), Author born at Lelant near Hayle.

Cyril Richard Rescorla, (1939-2001,) policeman and soldier, was born in the town and served with distinction in the British and American armed forces. He later died in the 11th September 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, New York City, United States.

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Caspar John, GCB (1903–1984), First Sea Lord from 1960-63. Moved to Hayle after retiring and later died there.


Hayle Carnival - Early August.

Hayle Harbour Fest - Early August.

National Animal Welfare Trust Fun Dog Show and Fete - September.

Christmas Day Swim - December.


Cafes in Hayle


Pubs in Hayle

Camborne       St. Ives       Penzance       Portreath       Paradise Park       Hayle Heritage Centre       Coast2coast Karting

Redruth       Gwithian       St. Erth       Godrevy Lighthouse       The Coastal Footpath       Cornwall's Beaches