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Hayle, Cornwall

Hayle is an industrial town, the union of two centres and the sites of two rival industrial empires. Copperhouse to the east grew around the Cornish Copper Company’s copper smelting and mines supplies business, with its wharves on Copperhouse Pool, while Foundry grew around John Harvey’s foundry and mines supplies business with wharves on the Hayle River. At various times senior figures in both business were Wesleyan Methodists, but the companies were bitter rivals.

Before the new ‘causey’ was built in 1825 travellers had to cross the Hayle river as best they could and a miscalculation could be dangerous. When Charles Wesley arrived in Cornwall in 1743, a few weeks in advance of his brother, he wrote, ‘I passed the river Hayle just before the sea came in.’ Many years later the aged John Wesley travelling by chaise from Redruth urged the young driver to make the crossing against his better judgement, and before they reached the shore the horses were swimming with the carriage in tow. Wesley called to him, ‘Peter, fear not, thou shalt not sink.’ When they reached St.Ives, both of them were wet through, Wesley saw Peter Martin and the horses safely lodged at the inn before making his way to the preaching house.

Wesley preached at ‘the Hayle’ in 1765, and on two later occasions at Copperhouse where he met the society in its room ‘built with brazen slags’ (‘scoria’, the slag from the copper smelting operation). That preaching house, the private property of the Cornish Copper Company (CCC), was followed by two galleried chapels at Copperhouse (1816) and Foundry (1846). Eight of the thirteen Trustees at Copperhouse had CCC connections, including Hanibal Ellis, a Partner, while three of the fourteen Trustees at Foundry had Harvey connections.

The United Methodist Free Churches had a chapel at Mount Pleasant, between the two centres. A society was in existence by 1842 with its origins in the Teetotal Methodists of St. Ives. Its leader was John Swann Withington, who moved to the Tavistock & Devonport Circuit of the Wesleyan Methodist Association in 1852 when the Teetotals broke up and the Hayle Society joined the WMA. Withington became President of the United Methodist Free Churches in 1872.

Mount Pleasant chapel was taken over min 1860 by the Methodist New Connexion, which had taken over the St. Ives Teetotal Societies in 1852. But in 1871 they sold it to the United Methodist Free Churches. Mount Pleasant closed in 1960.

Hugh Bourne, the Primitive Methodist founder, arrived at Hayle by steamer from Bristol in 1832 and walked to Redruth. The Primitive Methodists opened a chapel at Copperhouse the following year, but little is known of its progress.

At High Lanes the Bible Christians had a chapel which may have had its origins as one of John Boyle’s Societies. A new Bible Christian chapel was built in 1869. It closed in 1968.

The present church, uniting all the Societies, opened in 1972.


Charles Wesley's Journal:

July 1743: 'I passed the river Hayle, just before the sea came in. Two tinners met me first, and wished me good luck in the name of the Lord. My next greeting was from the devil's children; who shouted as I passed, and pursued me like the men out of the tombs. I met T[homas] W[illiams] and then Mr Shepherd, and rejoiced in the Lord our strength and our Redeemer.'

John Wesley's Journal:

September 1765: 'About noon I preached at the Hayle, a small arm of the sea, which runs up into the land two or three miles from St. Ives, and makes a tolerable harbour.'

August 1785: 'About nine I preached at the copper-works, near the Hayle, in the new preaching-house. I suppose such another is not in England, nor in Europe, nor in the world. It is round, and all the walls are brass; that is, brazen slabs. It seems nothing can destroy this, till heaven and earth pass away.'

Entry written by: CCS
Category: Place

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