Harveys 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 map)
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 Engines.


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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