Have you seen our Clay Stories posts? We have been sharing interesting historical snippets weekly on social media for a couple of years. They give us the opportunity to research various historical events and aspects of life in Cornwall’s Clay Country, sourcing images from our wonderful collection of photographs; china clay companies used to take numerous photographs of their workers and their various pits - images that we have been fortunate enough to inherit. We share stories connected to these images on social media as a way of making a portion of our collection accessible to a wider online audience.

During lockdown, many of our recent Clay Stories have focused on the Martyn family who once owned Wheal Martyn. It turns out that while we were sharing these historic images, online audiences were connecting in the comment sections and discovering new family ties with each other, linked to the Martyn family. One lady has informed us that she has got into contact with distant relatives in Australia as a result of these posts and has planned to visit them in the future.

Elias Martyn in Cornwall Rifle Volunteers uniform

It is truly lovely to think that families are learning about each other and coming together through Wheal Martyn. This is just one positive result of sharing more information and interacting with our communities online. It is also important in furthering our cause; input from our local communities and visitors can help us to fill gaps in our knowledge.

Richard, Ivy and Alice Martyn

As an industrial museum, we are a centre for the community, and many of our collections are inherently tied to people; those who owned the sites, those that built the machinery and those that worked within the industry. In this regard, industrial history is often interconnected with social history. These people have family who either still live in the area or follow Wheal Martyn’s social channels online.

Martyn family display case

Wheal Martyn was initially created as a museum for industry workers and their families – indeed, it lies on china clay land next to a modern working china clay pit. This is reflected in the huge wealth of photographs and objects that reflect the real, lived experiences of many people from the local area. It has been a joy to notice comments on our posts where people have recognised their aunties or great uncles amongst other family members.

Desmond Caddy, wet clay worker costume, St Dennis Carnival

One of our particular favourites is the above image and the many people who commented and shared it mentioning their relation to Desmond.

We warmly welcome people to continue to share their stories and family connections in the comment sections of our clay stories and to get in touch with us at [email protected] if they ever want to share more information with us directly.