Hayle: Copperhouse Trail

I have mentioned before that the town of Hayle was a divided town back in the days of the Industrial Revolution. Engineering companies established in the town provided machinery for the Cornish Mining Industry and also exporting worldwide. At the eastern end the CCC (Cornish Copper Company) began smelting copper in 1758 and the Phillack parish had a workforce of over 1,400 by the turn of the century. They also imported coal, timber, limestone, iron and other goods into Hayle and later specialised in beaten copper.

As well as fierce competition with Harvey and Co at the western end of Hayle boundary arguments often broke out between the two ends concerning the use of the quays and the river Hayle’s exit to the sea. One night the battle between the opposing workers was so bad that the military at Marazion were sent in to break up the fighting and the two directors spent many hours arranging a peace treaty!

This walk is going to follow the green boundary line around the Copperhouse Pool. We start at the corner of Penpol terrace (1) and East Quay where the iron swing bridge crosses over the harbour. A drawbridge was originally built in 1837, replaced by the Swing Bridge to carry the road and the Wharves branch line linking to the Hayle railway mainline. The bridge used to be raised and rotated to allow passage of seagoing vessels along the canal as far as Copperhouse.

This is the start of Hayle Terrace and where the most prominent building in the area stands – St Elwyn’s Church.  Opposite the church is ‘Merchant’ Curnow’s Quay  which was first recorded in the Phillack Tithes of 1554 as a coal quay. John ‘Merchant’ Curnow of Bodriggy House established his quay in 1750 with a seasoning pond for timber being built in 1762.

Hayle terrace leads into Commercial Road at the Passmore Institute and the War Memorial. But before we get there halfway along the terrace is an unusually ornate building (2) “Garden Shop” was built originally as Carwin Dairy. This single storey shop has a fine classical front of dressed granite. The tympanum over each opening has patterned leaded glazing with painted farming scenes, including milk maid and cow depicted in the principal stained glass panes though these are difficult to make out.

The Passmore Edwards Institute (3) stands opposite the War Memorial (4). This was the last to be designed by Silvanus Trevail as a centre for adult education for John Passmore Edwards the Cornish newspaper editor and philanthropist. This imposing granite building was built in 1893 and still used today for local clubs and societies.

Despite its name Commercial Road is more residential than commercial with a few scattered businesses and the Library.

In front of the library (5) is this lovely planter which is part of the Hayle in Bloom scheme. Behind the library is a wildlife garden and wildflower meadow area with a hide overlooking the Copperhouse Pool.

Commercial Road now becomes Fore Street which is an example of an 18th/19th century main street with many original shop fronts and other interesting buildings. The street lamps alongside the canal are adorned with quirky old watering cans and the street furniture is painted a lovely bright blue.

Another interesting building along this street is St George’s Hall (6), an unusual terracotta and tile covered building which used to be Hayle Cinema dating from 1900 and one of the earliest to be built in Cornwall.

A little further on is Phillack  Church Hall (7) a late 18th century slag block building used as a Sunday school for the chapel which used to be opposite. Later it was a volunteer drill hall and then converted to a church hall in 1912.

Turning left here through the car park of a supermarket you find yourself on Black Road and the Copperhouse Dock and Canal and Quay. Black Road and Black Bridge were built in 1818 from the slag left over from the copper smelting works  as part of the access road from Ventonleague to Riviere and North Quay. The slag was recycled to produce ‘scoria’ blocks for building. Anyone working for the CCC received these blocks free of charge to build their homes and many buildings on this side of Hayle are built in scoria block. The bridge you will notice has odd sized arches. One arch had been completed when Rev. William Hocking of Phillack complained that it was too low. According to an ancient law he had the right to row under the bridge to reach his own quay at the bottom of the Rectory garden and so the the second arch was built to allow him to do that.

From this point you can see the Phillack Church ahead of you and to your left the Copperhouse Pool.

This is where you turn left onto the King George V Memorial Walk, purchased from the GWR and Harvey and Co to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of King George and Queen Mary. Many specimen trees were planted along the walk along with beautiful flower borders. I have published many posts about this walk and the huge range of plants so please click on the link to view them.

At this end of the walk is a lovely row of pink washed cottages. Riviere Cottages (8) were built by the CCC in 1793 and restored in 1996. These Georgian cottages were formerly used as alms houses.

And within the memorial walk gardens you will come across these sluice gates (9). The Copperhouse Pool Sluice Gates were installed by the CCC in 1789 to assist in keeping the harbour waters navigable. Sluicing proved successful and the gates were used until 1980. These gates made of greenheart wood, considered the best for marine environments, were built in 1956. They were removed in 1982 and replaced with the current flood defence system. The gates were uncovered in 2011 during the development of North Quay and placed here in 2013.

Copperhouse Pool was built in 1788. With its black scoria block retaining walls, it was used as a storage reservoir to hold back the water at high tide. At low water this was released, thus scouring out the channels leading towards the sea, allowing large ships to enter the harbour. Nowadays the Copperhouse pool is a tranquil environment teeming with fish and birdlife. It is the most westerly estuary in Britain and the milder climate attracts many birds in the winter months. Looking across the pool you can see St Elwyn’s Church and where we started this trail.

At the end of the memorial garden walk is a small car park and the town’s outdoor swimming pool. Turn left here passing the Customs House on your right (10) which was built in 1862 and is now used as the offices for the Hayle Harbour Company. It has the points of the compass incised into the doorstep used to help calibrate the compasses of ships.

This trail is approximately 1.7 miles or 3 km and is fairly level so suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs. There are many benches along the walk to sit and rest or simply admire the views, independent shops, pubs and bakeries where you can stop for food and drink including fabulous pasties, fish and chips, Cornish ales and cider. Information about the Hayle area is from the Hayle Discovery Map, the Blue Plaques that explain the history and  the architecture of the town and a lovely Copperhouse Family Trail leaflet. All photographs are my own.

Jo’s Monday Walk. (Jo is taking a break from her regular Monday walks, but I wanted to link this last one and to thank her for encouraging me to share my many walks with her over the years. Often you’ll find me wandering around a garden or a beach location not the long hikes that Jo is famous for, but we both enjoy botany and boats.)


  1. Oh Jude, I so enjoyed this beautiful walk. There are some lovely buildings along the way and it’s nice that so many have been repurposed over the years.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Yes, it’s not a bad little town. It serves us well and has the lovely garden walk and access to the beaches.

      1. It’s very pretty on a beautiful day like the one in these photos.

        1. Heyjude says:

          In the sun most things look OK 😊

  2. Why on earth would anyone hang watering cans from lamp posts? Love the boat-cum-planter. 🙂 Looks like you had a beautiful day for the walk.

    1. Heyjude says:

      There is a whole row of them! Probably linked to the Hayle in Bloom competition. As is the boat planter. Not all the photos were taken on the same day, but the majority were quite recent. Our last walk since all these storms.

    2. Heyjude says:

      I am now wondering if the watering cans are used as hanging baskets in the summer? I shall have to try and remember to look later on in the year.

      1. That would be interesting! Awkward, though.

  3. poppytumpno4 says:

    You’ve certainly done your homework Jude 😉 Not surprising it’s taken a fair amount of time to research and put together this post . I’ve often noticed some of these buildings when we’ve been stuck in traffic on my way through Lol I’ll now take more interest for sure and maybe stop and do this walk sometime if I can halt my itch to reach the sea 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      Ah. Yes. The hidden gem of the town is that endless beach behind the Towans 😁

      1. poppytumpno4 says:

        Exactly Jude x Sssh *big smile

  4. This looks like a very attractive walk around the industrial past of Hayle. It’s good to have the links and understand our history.

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