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Hayle, St Elwyn

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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.


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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. The Cornwall Family History Society have also published on-line census detail by surname on the FamilyHistoryonLine site.

Specific census information for this parish is available as follows:

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Church History

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Church Records

Entries in the St Elwyn parish registers commence from: 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.

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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.

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Description & Travel

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Merchant Marine

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

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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.

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Poorhouses, Poor Law, etc.

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

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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

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The parish comprises 727 acres of land.

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