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Help and advice for Hayle, St Elwyn

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Hayle, St Elwyn

Hayle (Cornish: Heyl Sen Elwyn) is located in the Hundred of Penwith. The ancient port of Hayle is situated on the north coast of Cornwall protected by the wide sandy estuary of the River Hayle. There were foundries here in support of mining, including Harvey's Foundry. Copperhouse is one half of the town of Hayle, way down in West Cornwall; the other half of the town was Foundry and there was always a deal of rivalry between the two. Copperhouse was so called because it was the site of the copper smelters for the mines in the area. The Cornish Copper Company established this site in 1758, but it declined about 50 years later due to the massive pollution and ill-effects on health. The copper ore from Cornwall then was then exported across the sea to South Wales, whilst return trips brought coal for tin smelting. So at one time Hayle was an important exporter of copper ore but its future now is linked to the tourist industry.

Hayle was created from part of Phillack parish in 1888 and was combined with Phillack 1935 and incorporated part of St Erth in 1937.

Hayle is a small market town, originally in the parishes of St. Erth, and Phillack; it is situated on the eastern side of the river Hayle, between three and four miles from St. Ives, of which port it is a member. On the shore are extensive quays, considerable mercantile establishments, and iron foundries; the latter furnishing to the mines steam engines of vast power; the works at which these are constructed are well worthy the inspection of strangers, to whom admission is at all times readily granted. The exports are copper ore for Wales, and the imports, coal, lime and iron. A market-house has recently been erected; the market is held on Saturdays. The town stands on a flat area amidst extensive sandhills (known as towans). Just north of the town was Wheal Alfred Consols, producing tin and later in its working life copper, well known by mineral collectors for the fine specimens of pyromorphite. The port served the Central Mining Belt exporting copper ore to the smelters in Wales, importing timber props and coal for the mine engines. What is now an important wildlife habitat, Carnsew Pool, was constructed at this time, the sluices were opened to keep the treacherous harbour entrance free of sand. Indeed older locals can remember back to the 1950s when the harbour was still a bustling place; the the sluices were still in regular use and the channel dredged. Hayle Bay can be treacherous and should only be navigated by experienced skippers. Hundreds of people were still employed by 'The Docks', with imports of coal and timber, exports of scrap metal. In the sand dunes was a Chemical Works, long since dismantled.

The Upper reaches of the Estuary are now an RSPB Nature Reserve, and the winter home often to thousands of migrants, from widgeon to teal, to curlew. Little Egret are resident and, on occasions, it may be possible to see some of these beautiful birds. Hayle Towans and Gwithian Towans beaches are popular with visitors, with lifeguards on duty during the holiday Season.

Most parish and church description(s) on these pages are from Lake's Parochial History of the County of Cornwall by J Polsue (Truro, 1867 - 1873)



Census information for this parish (1841 - 1901) is held in the Cornwall Record Office. The Cornwall Family History Society offers a census search service for its members.
Specific census information for this parish is available as follows:


  • St Elwyn, Church of England

  • St Joseph, Commercial Road, Hayle, Cornwall, Roman Catholic

You can also perform a more selective search for churches in the Hayle area that are recorded in the GENUKI church database. This will also help identify other churches in nearby townships and/or parishes. You also have the option to see the location of the churches marked on a map.

Church History

  • Anglican. The parish was constituted in 1870, being carved out of the western part of the parish of Phillack. This tiny parish of only 198 acres was centred around the the needs of the Harvey iron foundry at the western end of Hayle, whilst the medieval Parish of Phillack mainly served the needs of the eastern end of the town where the Cornish Copper Company was based. For the first eighteen years of its existence the new parish did not have a church, services were conducted in the neighbouring parish of Phillack in the Mission Church of St John. In 1884 a site was found for the parish church and designed by the architect John D. Stedding and built by R. Stanslake of Plymouth, the foundation stone was laid on 5th May 1886 and the church consecrated on 5th August 1888 and dedicated to the fifth century Irish missionary St Elwyn, The Martyr.
    The parish church is located in OS Grid Square SW5537 and was dedicated to St Elwyn. There is no burial ground in this parish and so there are no Parish burial records; the parish church of Phillack served this purpose. However, the parish of Hayle has maintained its own baptism amd marriage records since 1888; these are now in the Cornwall Record Office.
  • Roman Catholic. In 1902, one of the Canons Regular from Bodmin was sent as chaplain to The Daughters of the Cross Convent, Hayle. He began to serve the tiny local Catholic population with the Sister's Chapel in The Downs functioning as a "Parish" Church. On 29th September, 1926, Bishop Kelly blessed the foundation stone of the present St. Michael's Hospital Chapel and it officially became the (Roman Catholic) Parish Church, although it was not then licensed for weddings.
    The present Church building was erected about one hundred years ago as a Baptist Chapel. After being derelict for some time, it was registered on the 11th October 1958 as a Place of Worship for Roman Catholics. A licence for weddings was also obtained. On 12th October 1958, St. Joseph's was formally blessed and opened as the Catholic Parish Church of Hayle.
  • Non-Conformist.
    • The Wesleyan Methodists had a chapel at Foundry Square built in 1845; they had another at Copperhouses. The chapel in Foundry Square is now converted for public use as a commercial market area. This chapel has unusual 19th century window tracery. A new Methodist Chapel is now located in Chapel Terrace.
    • The Free Methodists had chapels at Hayle and also at Ventonleage.
    • The Bible Christians had a chapel at High Lanes.
    • The Baptist chapel was in Commercial Road. (This eventually became the Roman Catholic Church - see above).

Church Records

Entries in the St Elwyn parish registers commence from:

  • Baptisms: 10 Oct 1888.
  • Marriages: 26 Nov 1888.

If you cannot find what you were looking for in the St Elwyn or Phillack transcriptions, check the St Erth parish register transcriptions as many St Erth parish register entries refer to residents of Phillack and Hayle.

  • LDS Church Records. The LDS Church batch numbers for Hayle are: Copper House Wesleyan Methodist Chapel C065151. These are searchable by surname.
  • The Cornwall Record Office holdings: Baptisms 1888 - 1956, Marriages 1888 - 1979. There are no burial records because burials took place in Phillack.
  • Baptisms:
    • Baptisms 1888 to 1899 for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • Hayle Wesleyan-Methodist Circuit baptisms 1884 to 1900 are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • Baptisms at Hayle, St Elwyn are available on-line courtesy of the OPC as follows:
    • The Plymouth Record Office holdings: Hayle Baptist Baptisms 1855-1904 (not available on microfiche). [Also contains a number of baptisms performed in Penzance, Truro, Redruth and Helensburgh].
    • Baptisms at St Erth 1813 to 1899 of those whose father or mother's abode is Phillack or Hayle are on-line courtesy of the OPC.
  • Marriages:
    • Marriages 1888 to 1911 for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • Marriages at Hayle, St Elwyn are available on-line courtesy of the OPC as follows:
    • Marriages at St Erth 1701 to 1919 of those whose Bride or groom's abode is Phillack or Hayle are on-line courtesy of the OPC.
  • Burials.
    • As there is no burial ground associated with this church, there are no parish burial records. In general, burials would have taken place at Phillack.
    • Burials at St Erth 1813 to 1899 of those whose abode is Phillack or Hayle are on-line courtesy of the OPC.
  • Other Non-Conformist Records. OPC Coverage of Non-Conformist records of this parish is available.

Civil Registration

The parish of Hayle is in the Penzance Registration District, and has been since 1st July 1837. There were sub-districts at St Buryan and at St Just but these have now been abolished. Parishes within the district are: Gulval, Ludgvan, Madron, Marazion, Morvah, Penzance, Perranuthnoe, St. Buryan, St. Erth, St. Hilary, St. Ives, St. Just in Penwith, St. Levan, St. Michael's Mount, St. Paul, Sancreed, Sennen, Towednack, Uny-Lelant, Wolfe Rock Lighthouse, and Zennor. The Superintendant Registrar can be contacted at: Alphington House, Alverton Place, Penzance, TR18 4JJ. Tel: 01736 330093.

Description and Travel

  • ePodunk's Cornwall page - providing general, plus some historical and genealogical information, about Cornwall and its parishes, together with links (mainly relating to general sites and services, rather than ones that are specific to Cornwall or particular parishes).
  • An aerial view of Hayle and the surrounding area is available on-line, courtesy of Bing Maps.
You can see pictures of Hayle which are provided by:


  • OPC Assistance.
    • The On-line Parish Clerk (OPC) scheme operates a service to help family historians; the OPC page for this parish is available on-line, from where the OPC can be contacted by email.
    • The OPC has provided a genealogical website for the parishes of Phillack and Hayle.
  • Those researchers, with family history interests in Phillack and Hayle, are listed on-line together, where appropriately, with email links.

Historical Geography

You can see the administrative areas in which Hayle has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.


You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SW550370 (Lat/Lon: 50.182172, -5.433279), Hayle which are provided by:

Merchant Marine

Some information on Hayle's Ship's Captains and Mates is available on-line.


The Hayle Mail was the local Newspaper at the turn on the 19th/20th centuries. The Morrab Library in Penzance appears to be the only library with copies of this newspaper; they hold copies from January 1912 through to December 1917. Sid Blake of the Cornish Arms Hotel in New York wrote regular articles for the Hayle Mail. There are many other things recorded in the way of weekly reports from places as far apart as Grass Valley, California, New Zealand and Australia which mention many families and events.


Poor Houses, Poor Law etc.

Hayle parish became part of the Redruth Union for Poor Law administration and parish relief on its creation.


Hayle was created from part of Phillack parish 1888 and was combined with Phillack in 1935. In 1937 it incorporated part of St Erme.

  • Population in 1801 - 1475 persons
  • Population in 1811 - 2119 persons
  • Population in 1821 - 2529 persons
  • Population in 1831 - 3053 persons
  • Population in 1841 - 4055 persons
  • Population in 1851 - 4800 persons
  • Population in 1861 - 5381 persons
  • Population in 1871 - 4854 persons
  • Population in 1881 - 4254 persons
  • Population in 1891 - 4673 persons
  • Population in 1901 - 4549 persons
  • Population in 1911 - 4639 persons
  • Population in 1921 - 4497 persons
  • Population in 1931 - 4149 persons
  • Population in 1951 - 4616 persons
  • Population in 1961 - 4830 persons
  • Population in 1971 - 5378 persons
  • Population in 1981 - 6175 persons
  • Population in 1991 - 7335 persons
  • Population in 2001 - 8317 persons
  • Population in 2011 - 8902 persons


The parish comprises 727 acres of land.