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110801 | Hayles Historic Slipways | Peter Channon | Hayle Pump

From Hayle Pump Aug-Sep 2011 issue

Hayles Historic Slipways

Due to a major planning application there has been a flurry of activity on South Quay recently with a unit from Northamptonshire Archaeology conducting excavations to determine the structure and extent of the “lost” original slipways and dock that have been in-filled over many years.
Although there have been many alterations and types of use over time; what was a traditional quayside that would have seen a variety of raw materials and finished goods coming and going was altered to provide a ship building facility which eventually evolved to become a shipbreaking and scrapping business.
Although there are comprehensive maps and plans to show us how this affected the Quay it is the exposing of parts of this feature that have now highlighted the activity that was an important part of Hayle’s maritime history.
The areas in question include a substantial part of South Quay plus an area (Carnsew Dock) under the current Jewson (offshoot of the original Harvey’s of Hayle) dating back to 1834, records show that a number of both wooden and iron vessels were Hayles Historic Slipways constructed on the slips with the SS Ramleh of nearly 4000 tons probably being the largest.
In 1904 the shipyard closed but the slipways found a new use after WW1 when a substantial amount of ship breaking took place.
The bottom of the photo shows Jewsons building, Carnsew Road and the railway. A = Carnsew Dock B = Main slipways
The bottom of the photo shows Jewsons
building, Carnsew Road and the railway.
A = Carnsew Dock
B = Main slipways

South Quay’s original use gave it a legacy of substantial stone walls where vessels could load and discharge cargos, plus Carnsew dock that reached into Harvey’s and is now covered by Jewson’s yard and later infill. When it was decided to construct slipways quay walls had to be breached and slipways emerged over the ensuing years which encroached into the main body of the quay.
When the ship-breaking declined the gradual reclaiming of the slips and Carnsew dock led eventually to more infilling of the area to the present time with evidence of bulldozed buildings and slag waste easily seen nowadays.
One of the proposed benefits of a South Quay development will be the removal of the later infill and exposure of some of the original quay and part of the dock, with some trial excavations of the area having exposed evidence of the “lost” slipways and the land they occupied. This has also highlighted just how much activity was a regular feature of this once busy industrial area.
The Hayle archive (Old Brewery Office) has a comprehensive selection of images and information that shows how important the Harbour area became and its part as both a centre for trade and industrial innovation.
Peter Channon