17 September 2020
Work is under way to uncover a unique piece of Cornish history as part of plans to fully reinstate the traditional method of maintaining Hayle Harbour to ensure safe access for fishing vessels and other craft through its navigable channel and across the Hayle Bar.
Historically, Hayle Harbour was kept free from a build-up of silt and sand through a system of regularly sluicing water at high velocity from the town’s Carnsew Pool. A key part of this technically simple but highly effective method of harbour maintenance was a curved stone ‘training wall’ built on the western side of the harbour channel to help direct the sluiced water and washed sediment out into the estuary.
Excavations began this week to assess the condition of the 19th Century structure which was overwhelmed and largely buried over many decades following the decline of the once-thriving and busy port.
The plans to repair the training wall are part of a wider renaissance for Hayle Harbour which is the subject of a major regeneration project by Corinthian Homes, with the aim of creating an exciting and vibrant new coastal quarter, with a busy and successful harbour, water sports hub and fishing fleet at its heart.
Corinthian Homes has recently set up the ‘Corinthian Harbour & Marine Programme’ which will focus on a combination of ongoing general harbour maintenance works as well as investment spend activities such as the fishermen’s compound and boat pontoons.
An earlier restoration scheme saw the sluice gates and machinery restored and sluicing reintroduced in 2016 from Carnsew Pool, now a nature reserve, in agreement with the pool’s owners the RSPB, Natural England and the Environment Agency.
Peter Haddock, Hayle Harbour Master, said the repair and reinstatement of the training wall would improve the effectiveness of this, eventually reducing the need for mechanical dredging of the harbour channel.
He said: “Corinthian Homes as developer and Harbour Authority has made a commitment to support the local fishing fleet and to invest in the long-term future of a thriving Hayle Harbour, including through the reintroduction of a comprehensive maintenance programme which will increase the tidal window for access to the harbour as well as the size of boats which can use it.
“Sluicing is a traditional and environmentally sustainable method of maintaining the channel and ensuring it is fit for purpose and hazard free. The training wall is an important component of this, allowing the energy from the sluice to continue further out into the bay. The work under way now is to uncover and establish the extent and condition of the training wall ahead of any necessary repairs being carried out.”
More than a decade in the planning, the regeneration of Hayle Harbour has long been seen as an important project in stimulating and sustaining economic growth in the town and West Cornwall.
Construction started earlier this year at North Quay, which will feature beautifully designed homes, new shops and open spaces, all set within a stunning waterside location just yards from the magnificent Hayle Towans beaches with their three miles of golden sands.
Once complete, North Quay will become a focal point for further phases of the regeneration and a destination in its own right, for people living and working locally or enjoying a visit to Hayle, its near neighbour St Ives and wider West Cornwall. A planning application has already been submitted for Phase Two of the scheme, to include a new hotel and community centre, improved water sport and harbour facilities, cinema and new open-market and affordable homes.