Harvey's of Hayle
- In 1779, John Harvey, an enterprising blacksmith from Carnhell Green, Gwinear, came to St
Erth parish, on the boundary adjacent to Phillack and beside the Penpol River and
established a foundry known as John Harvey & Co. to make cast iron pumps for the mines. (see
- Both the Cornish Copper
Company and Harvey's were in fierce competition from the very
beginning, and locked horns over staff and then for use of the quays and the
river Hayle exit to the sea.
- The growing hostility between the two firms became violent
and battles erupted between the two sets of employees. The allegation was that
the CCC had infringed the parish boundary with a part of its quay. John's son
Henry - the 'great Mr Harvey', as he was called - inherited the foundry in 1803. As both he and the
Cornish Copper Company sought to develop and improve their respective
sections of the harbour, hostility between the rival concerns reached new
heights of bitterness, involving boundary, disputes, physical confrontation and
legal action. John Edwards built a dam with sluice gates across the eastern arm
to keep back the water at high tide; released some hours later, it swept silt
and sand from the channel and kept the river clear for navigation. Henry Harvey
built quays and wharfs, together with his own sluices, supplied by water
impounded in the artificially created Carnsew Pool. Affairs reached crisis point
in 1818, when the Cornish Copper Company sought to prevent Henry Harvey from
constructing a new quay, hundreds of workmen from both sides became involved and
an actual clash was only narrowly avert.
In 1829, the dispute between Harvey and Co. of Hayle and the Cornish
Copper Company again flared over the ownership of the quay and land at
Hayle. This was the culmination of years of acrimonious competition between
the two companies, with channel diversions, poaching of workers and sharp
practices, including the riots in 1818. A number of old men were brought in
to testify to the state of the river in the 1790's. Ralph Corin, who gave
his age as 68, gave evidence that he had for many years been bringing copper
ore from Wheal Cock Mine at St Just to the Hayle wharves. He also brought
tin from Angarrack Mill to Penzance for Joseph Carne, FRS, one of the owners
of the Cornish Copper Company, for his father, and for William Bolitho.
- After a long legal battle, concerning the St Erth/Phillack
boundary line, in 1832 the Harvey's were granted a portion of the quay, which had
overlapped into St Erth and Harvey's property. The stone marking the point of
division still stands.
- The Cornish Copper Company also entered into direct competition with
Harvey's in another sphere, iron-founding and the manufacture of Cornish Beam
- The conflict, which divided Hayle into two warring camps, was
not finally resolved until 1867, when the Copper Company - then Sandys, Carne &
Vivian - sold out to Harvey's, which thereby gained sole control of the harbour.
- On 7 November 1797 Jane Harvey, daughter of John, was married at St Erth
church to Richard Trevithick, the great Cornish inventor from Camborne. A few
years later (1800-1) the parts for his famous steam road carriage, precursor of
all forms of mechanical transport, were cast for him at Hayle Foundry. On his
departure for South America in 1818, Henry Harvey who was then running the firm
built the White Hart Hotel at the Foundry end of Hayle for his sister to
run until Richard came home. At the other end of the town, in Ventonleague, the
Revd. Williarm Hockin, in 1825 built the Hayle Hotel.
it is still there today, now known as the Penmare.
Ultimately, both the CCC and Harveys turned to
shipbuilding, producing many fine ships.
To learn more on the activities of the Harvey's
Foundry Trust, an organization promoting the preservation and development of
the former Harvey's Foundry site in Hayle,
click here. Be
sure to read the 'History of Hayle' written by S.R. Thomas and the
status of the UNESCO bid to classify parts of Cornwall, including Hayle as a
World Heritage Site.
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