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Copperhouse Dock

A Grade II Listed Building in Hayle, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.1919 / 50°11'30"N

Longitude: -5.4083 / 5°24'29"W

OS Eastings: 156825

OS Northings: 37986

OS Grid: SW568379

Mapcode National: GBR FX05.KH7

Mapcode Global: VH12N.6FQS

Plus Code: 9C2P5HRR+PM

Entry Name: Copperhouse Dock

Listing Date: 14 January 1988

Last Amended: 27 September 2018

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1327613

English Heritage Legacy ID: 70203

Location: Hayle, Cornwall, TR27

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Hayle

Built-Up Area: Hayle

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Phillack

Church of England Diocese: Truro

Tagged with: Architectural structure

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A former canal dock. Built in around 1769 for the Cornish Copper Company. C20 alterations.


A former canal dock. Built in circa 1769 for the Cornish Copper Company. C20 alterations.

MATERIALS: built of vertically-set, coursed blocks of cast copper slag, or scoria, from the Cornish Copper Company’s smelter. The lock walls at the west end are of granite ashlar. Timber lock gates.

PLAN: the dock is about 100m long and in two sections at an obtuse angle to each other, and narrower at the centre. There is a lock gate at the entrance to the western end, and at the eastern end is a C20 bridge over a sluice; there is a culvert on the north side.

DESCRIPTION: the battered retaining walls are of vertically set scoria blocks laid in courses. The rounded entrance at the west end of the dock is built of granite blocks with cast-iron posts and timber lock gates. At the east end is a C20 concrete bridge which incorporates some reused copper slag coping stones of pointed section. There is a round-arched culvert to the north side of the eastern extent of the dock.


The Hayle Estuary was an important focus for trade and the movement of people and ideas in the prehistoric period, but rapid decline set in during the later medieval period as the estuary became choked by silts from tin extraction along the valleys feeding into it. From the 1740s this decline swiftly reversed as extensive quays were built at the heart of the estuary to facilitate Hayle’s servicing of the tin and copper mining industry of West Cornwall. Hayle and Copperhouse developed two rival foundries owned by Harvey’s of Hayle and the Cornish Copper Company. Both actively fostered obstructions and means of keeping their respective shipping channels clear to disadvantage their rival's maritime access.

The Cornish Copper Company moved to Hayle in 1757 and built a copper smelting works in 1758. The canal and dock that served the works were constructed in 1769 and eased the difficult maritime access from the estuary. Land access was improved with the Sea Lane or "Black" Road across Copperhouse Creek in about 1811, and by the development of the Hayle Railway in 1837. Blocks of slag, called scoria, from the Cornish Copper Company's smelter, was used in these projects to provide a distinctive building material.

By 1820 copper smelting had ceased and the Cornish Copper Company became a general foundry manufacturing over 350 Cornish beam engines during its lifetime. The company closed in 1867 due to bankruptcy and the wharves were sold to Harvey’s. Although most trade was carried out in the quay, vessels could still reach Copperhouse Dock, and a few small ships were built here in the 1860s. The foundry buildings associated with the dock were demolished in 1978.

The dock had a square basin on the south side of its western end but this has been filled in and faced in concrete blocks and reused slag blocks. At the eastern end there was probably a lock to the narrower canal beyond. This has been removed and replaced with a C20 bridge over a sluice.

Reasons for Listing

Copperhouse Dock in Hayle, Cornwall is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* as a mid-C18 dock that is built of Cornish granite and scoria blocks giving the structure a distinct architectural identity that is characteristic of the buildings of the Cornish Copper Company;
* for its engineering interest as part of the Cornish Copper Company’s works to ease access between the Hayle Estuary and its smelting works.

Historic interest:

* built in 1769, it is one of the earliest surviving buildings associated with the industrial development of Hayle in the mid-C18 to service the tin and copper industries in Cornwall;
* for its association with the Cornish Copper Company which has importance as both the principal copper smelting works in Cornwall and then as a general foundry producing Cornish beam engines of international renown;
* for its integral role in the understanding of the development of Hayle into a major industrial port in the C18 and C19.

Group value:
* with other surviving buildings that form part of the Cornish Copper Company, including the Grade-II listed Black Bridge, as well as designated buildings associated with its rival Harvey’s of Hayle.

External Links

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