Building » Hayle – St Joseph

Hayle – St Joseph

Commercial Road, Hayle, Cornwall

A modest Baptist chapel of c1870, adapted for Catholic use in 1958. The church retains some of its original fittings, and has been little altered since its adaptation in the 1950s. 

Hayle was once Cornwall’s most important industrial town, internationally famous as the producer and exporter of the world’s largest steam and mine engines. Until 1934 the settlement was divided into two separately administered towns, with Copperhouse to the west and Foundry to the east, and there was much rivalry between the two. The area in between (in which the church is located) was the earliest area of industrial activity, but was a later settlement area, developing mainly from the 1840s onwards. The present church was built in about 1870 as a Baptist chapel.

In 1902 one of the Canons Regular from Bodmin was sent as chaplain to the Daughters of the Cross Convent at Hayle. The small local Catholic population attended Mass in the Sisters’ chapel in The Downs. On 29 September 1926, Bishop Kelly blessed the foundation stone of St Michael’s Hospital chapel and this became the local Catholic church, although it was not then licensed for weddings.

After ceasing to be used for Baptist worship and being derelict for some time, the present church was registered as a place of Catholic worship on 11 October 1958. A licence for weddings was also obtained. On 12 October 1958 the church was formally blessed and opened as the Catholic parish church of Hayle. It is dedicated to St Joseph the Worker, whose feast on May 1 was instituted by Pope Pius XII in 1955.


The exterior has a rendered finish, with slate hanging in the pediments on the front and rear elevations and a modern concrete tile roof. The front elevation is framed by giant order pilasters at each corner which have lost their capitals, possibly in repairs and re-rendering c1958. Central round-arched entrance with round-arched niche above containing a statue of St Joseph, framed by tall round-arched windows with plain architraves and glazing bars. Slightly wider windows with segmental arches, four in number, to the flank elevations. At the rear is a low building, stuccoed and with a slate roof, the ridge running north-south against the main axis of the building. This was presumably the Sunday school building, and is now a parish hall and sacristy.

The main internal space consists of a single volume, with an attractive canted boarded ceiling, with timber roundels set into the interstices of the braces and elaborate star-shaped ventilation covers. The floor is raked slightly, and the original plain pine chapel seating survives in four blocks. It is understood that the original total immersion font survives in the floor near the sanctuary dais. In the corner to the right of the entrance is a painted stone octagonal font on a tapering pedestal, presumably imported from elsewhere. There is a fabric-covered canopy and dossal with crucifix in the sanctuary, belonging to the c1958 refurnishing. The altar and the other sanctuary furnishings are more recent and not of special interest.

Heritage Details

Architect: Not established

Original Date: 1870

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed