22 March 2021

We are delighted to announce that we have been awarded funding from HM Treasury through The National Archives Covid-19 Archive Fund, receiving £50,000 towards progressing essential, immediate work required to safeguard our significant archive of Cornwall’s china clay industry.

Wheal Martyn holds a unique archive which covers the activities of Cornwall’s largest mining industry since the late 18th century. The archive consists of records of the former company English China Clays and its associated industries, and is the largest single collection relating to this industry – an industry which shaped the economy and lives of people in mid-Cornwall and beyond. The archive has been established over the last 20 years by the China Clay History Society, which is connected to the museum. Volunteers of the Society have worked tirelessly to care for and document this collection, ensuring that it exists as a unique and valuable resource for our communities into the future.

  

The collection is subject to very poor environmental conditions in its current off-site store, a situation which must be improved as a matter of urgency to ensure the archive’s long term preservation. Plans previously made to address this had to be delayed as a result of the pandemic; we needed to concentrate our immediate efforts on wider issues, while the volunteer workforce has, like us all, been subject to restrictions in terms of coming together.

This grant enables us to progress the previous plans now, without delay, through the appointment of a professional Archivist for 12 months to lead crucial work, supporting volunteers to clean, consolidate and relocate much of the archive to Wheal Martyn, and, importantly, to re-establish access to the collection.

Colin Vallance, Director of Wheal Martyn said: “The challenges faced by our archive have been compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, meaning that our limited resources have been focused on the charity’s immediate survival. This has constrained our ability to tackle the plans we had in place to safeguard the archive. We are so grateful for this grant which will make an enormous difference, enabling work to happen now with the input of vital professional expertise”.