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Port of Hayle

Port of Hayle

Global mining port with natural wonders

Named after heyl, the Cornish word for estuary, this Area is dominated by water: rivers, pools, sluicing ponds, quays, wharves, and, of course, the sea. Huge sand dunes lie between the town and the beautiful St Ives Bay, with the dark hills of the West Penwith Moors looming to the west.

In the early 19th century, Hayle was the most important mining port and steam engine manufacturing centre in the world. 

Two of the most important iron foundries in the Site were here – Harvey’s (1779-1903) and Copperhouse (1820-1869). A fierce and long-running rivalry grew between the competing foundries as they argued over access to the sea. This contributed to the development of Foundry and Copperhouse as individual settlements at either end of the town, located around the sites of the two companies. Harvey's helped produce the largest steam pumping engines ever built anywhere and was the work place and meeting place of some of the most famous steam engine engineers including Richard Trevithick and Arthur Woolf.

Despite the decline of Hayle’s traditional industries, today’s lively communities buzz with the prospect of imminent regeneration. Here you’ll find plenty of signs of the town’s great past, along with beautiful beaches stretching out under vast skies.


• Crossing the railway swing bridge (1877) and following the estuary, through the old harbour and wharfside, and past the dunes to the huge sandy expanse of Gwithian Beach beyond

• Spotting many different types of birds to be found around Carnsew Pool, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

• Walking the King George V Memorial Walk from Phillack, taking in the pretty gardens around Copperhouse Pool, and looking out for Black Bridge (built from Scoria Blocks made from the waste slag produced by copper ore smelting at nearby Copperhouse)

• Watching the sunset over the old harbour, with the towering dunes and St Ives in the background

• Exploring the area around Foundry Barn, and imagining it in its booming, busy heyday then visiting the Hayle Heritage Centre to learn all about the history of Hayle