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Copperhouse Pool | Hayle Pump

As reported in The Hayle Pump October 01, 2012

Copperhouse Pool

was created by building out from the Towans side and the creation of a sluice gate to impound tidal water for sluicing the waterways and a bridge for improved access.

Before the civil engineering of the waterways the estuaries were open.

There was no enclosure of Copperhouse Pool, no Black Road and Black Bridge to create Wilsons Pool, and the Recreation Ground was open estuary. Compared with the full surge of tidal water in preindustrial days, each development restricted the flow of seawater, and with mine waste and agricultural silt being washed down the Angarrack River, higher parts of the estuary silted up.

The old wooden gates under the Swing Bridge could open fully allowing a good inflow of water, and a smaller sluice, buried beneath the Swimming Pool now, also allowed in a substantial flow of water which at the highest tides allowed yachts to the extent that there were regattas! The first restriction was the stopping of the sluice under the Swimming Pool some 30-40 years ago. From then it was simply not possible for the same volume of water to come through the remaining sluice gates before the outside levels dropped again.

This was compounded when sluicing ended, and to retain an element of sluicing effect, one of the pair of wooden sluice gates was braced shut at all times by a heavy timber prop, effectively halving the flow, and from that time the pool levels were lower.

These wooden sluice gates were then replaced by a vertically rising steel flood gate which restored the ability of tides to use the full size of the channel under the swing bridge.

The control of the flood prevention gate has come under the Environment Agency, who keep the gate almost permanently down with only about a meter gap to allow water in. This means that the water level is far lower than it used to be.

This has given rise to the idea that “Copperhouse Pool has silted up” but, while there has been silting, the biggest negative effect in recent years has been the policy of the Environment Agency.

Attempts to get more water allowed into the pool have been rebuffed by the Environment Agency, on economic grounds as they claim there is a cost element in sending an operator to Hayle to vary the height of the gate.

In other parts of the UK, the EA have spent money reverting farmland back to Salt Marsh, yet in Hayle they allow Wilsons Pool to dry out and change character.

Wilsons Pool and Copperhouse Pool are part of the Hayle Site of Special Scientific Interest which is managed by English Nature, most of Copperhouse Pool is owned by the RSPB, the Environment Agency have responsibilities, and the Harbour Company have legal rights and responsibilities.