To make sure the rich heritage of china clay is preserved for future generations and is understood by all we continually develop projects to further the aims of the charity. As a small museum we seek support for our education and curatorial work along with funding to improve the artefacts and exhibitions. The following development projects will help secure and sustain the museum in the future.

We have an ambitious range of projects either underway or in the planning which seek to achieve the following:
• Enhance the visitor experience
• Provide opportunities for learning and community engagement
• Preserve the museum collection and historic buildings

Current projects

Clay Works!

Wheal Martyn is delighted to announce that Phase 2 of the building works to deliver the Clay Works project is now underway with Heritage Cornwall Ltd again appointed as our building contractors.  This phase includes restoring the top level of the Mica Dry and developing a new gallery for temporary exhibitions; building an extension to the Mica Dry to house our new Learning and Activity Space; creating an accessible route through the buildings for the first time; and the provision of toilet facilities in the Mica Dry Linhay.

18 Foot Waterwheel Restoration

We are currently raising funds to refurbish Wheal Martyn’s 18 foot waterwheel.  The wheel is part of the Scheduled Ancient Monument and a key exhibit within the museum both because of its historical importance as one of only two reaming working waterwheels in Clay Country and because of its education value.  After years of exposure to the weather the wooden parts of the wheel have deteriorated to such an extent that now the wheel is unable to operate and works are also required to replace steel braces.  Refurbishment will include replacing all the wooden elements of the wheel and its associated launder with prime European oak, replacing steel ties and stripping and repainting the cast iron wheel.  The cost of the project is in the region of £32,000 and we are currently seeking donations towards fundraising for this work.  To date The Association for Industrial Archaeology and the Sylvia Waddilove Foundation have pledged significant contributions amounting to £20,000.

waterwheel project wheal martyn

In partnership with five other museums in Cornwall, Wheal Martyn has been part of an Arts Council England funded Major Partner Museum programme from April 2015 to March 2018.  As part of this, Wheal Martyn is receiving investment in the management of its collections, enabling the museum to become a ‘teaching hospital’, which offers opportunities for training and support to museums across Cornwall as we tackle our own challenges.

Wheal Martyn is also developing a Subject Specialist Network on Industrial Heritage, working with arts organisations on community projects, introducing new temporary exhibitions, upgrading museum displays and commissioning a museum masterplan.  We are also developing a range of inclusion projects, with the aim of delivering more opportunities for young people, people with disabilities and those from socio- economically deprived backgrounds to benefit from the work of the museum.  The overall project across Cornwall is being delivered by Cornwall Museums Partnership (charity number 1160147).

For more information on specific aspects of the projects and for work that has already been achieved click on the links below.

projects funded at wheal martyn museum

In development

If you would like further information about our future projects or can help us achieve our ambitious plans please contact us at


Working with the China Clay History Society we seek to develop onsite facilities at Wheal Martyn for the long term storage and to provide increased access to our vast archive which is currently stored offsite in unsatisfactory conditions.  This project will also see Wheal Martyn become the base for the History Society, who work voluntarily to document and research the collection, create exhibitions as well as respond to enquiries from the public.  The archive contains around 100,000 photographs and slides, 2,000 maps and plans, several hundred aerial photographs and millions of pages of records collected from former china clay mining companies including English China Clays (ECC).

our history, wheal martyn museum

The transport yard is at the heart of the outdoor museum within the clay works and show cases the collection of artefacts and vehicles related to transporting china clay.
This project will see a complete redisplay of the area, including improved interpretation and the construction of a new building to replace a redundant shed. The new building will house the museum’s Comet lorry (currently stored offsite) after it has undergone a complete refurbishment and work will include a programme of conservation to the other transport exhibits Timeframe is currently subject to funding.

projects, wehal martyn transport yard

As part their Heritage Lottery Funded project Cornish Mining World Heritage Site and Cornwall Council plan to restore Luxulyan Valley Viaduct. A permanent exhibition is also planned for Wheal Martyn which will interpret the links between china clay mining and metalliferous mining. The exhibition will provide more in-depth detail about Luxulyan Valley (part of the World Heritage Site) as well as information about Joseph Treffry, the man responsible for building the viaduct in the 1800s. Subject to funding, the exhibition should be in place by March 2018.

projects funding logo support

A number of other projects are in the pipeline.  These either seek to enhance the visitor experience, deliver educational or engagement opportunities for our audiences or preserve the museum collection and built heritage:

• Permanent exhibition on modern mining
• Enhancement of children’s play areas
• Garden enhancement
• Community stage area
• Collection conservation projects
• Community engagement projects
• Craft workshops and development of trading spaces
• Preservation of Scheduled Ancient Monument
• Education projects
• Arts projects
• Access projects
• Energy reduction

wheal martyn childrens play areas projects

Past Projects


2014 to 2016 funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England and Cornwall Council

The project set out to enable museums in Cornwall to improve skills and increase capacity in fundraising, including many independent, small and volunteer-led organisations.  The project was led by seven museums with Wheal Martyn managing and hosting the project officers.  Through this project Wheal Martyn received mentoring to develop a detailed Fundraising Strategy (adopted by Trustees in 2015) and employees participated in an extensive programme of training on a range of fundraising topics.

herritage lottery funded project wheal martyn museum, cornwall

Completed in 2015 a twelve month project funded by Arts Council England and Cornwall Council

Wheal Martyn was the lead partner on this joint project involving six museums in Cornwall who worked alongside smaller museums on joint projects such as fundraising, marketing and volunteer training. The project was designed to ensure Cornwall’s museums are sustainable for the future both by reducing costs and increasing fundraising. As part of the project Wheal Martyn benefitted from joint promotional activity, product development, new donation boxes and audience intelligence work.

arts council england

Completed in 2013 with funding from the Clay Country Local Action Group*, English Heritage and the Community Development Foundation

The project produced a detailed Conservation Management Plan for the Scheduled Ancient Monument at Wheal Martyn.  The plan details the current state of the monument and its preservation needs, providing strategic direction for the management and conservation of the Scheduled areas for the next ten years and allowing the Museum to grow with the local community’s needs.


Completed in 2013 with funding from the Clay Country Local Action Group*

The purpose of this project was to develop Wheal Martyn’s trading operation and focused on three aspects: marketing to actively bring in new business, maximising sales and building repeat business.  This included the production of a new website, introduction of a computerised till system and refurbishment of the café.

wheal martyn projects, cafe

Completed in 2012 with funding from the Tanner Trust

The complete refurbishment of our main collection store, included adding correct environmental control measures and installing a glass door with timed lighting so that visitors can see inside the store. Alongside this a team of volunteers worked to rationalise the other collection storage areas.

projects, wehal martyn collection

2011 to 2014 with funding support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Clay Country Local Action Group*, Tanner Trust, Norman Family Charitable Trust and individual donors.

This project included employing a part time Curator and part time Education Officer to re-engage the community with Wheal Martyn and begin to address collection management challenges following a period of decline up until it became part of South West Lakes Trust in 2010.  Throughout the project 97 groups were engaged, 4,557 learners participated in formal education, 67 events were delivered, 31 talks given, 28 external events attend and 27 new volunteers recruited.


Completed in 2011 with funding support from Cornwall Council Small Museums Grant Scheme and the Carew Pole Trust

An audit of the museum’s object collection was carried out by an independent museum professional to assess and inform the Trust on the state of the collection in terms of documentation, storage and display.  It also set out recommendations and priorities for the managing collections over the coming years.

porcelain project, wheal martyn museum

*NB – where funding is stated as provided by the Clay Country Local Action Group this means: Funded by the European Agricultural Fund for European Development 2007-2013 through the Clay Country Local Action Group on behalf of DEFRA.