February 2022

We've successfully completed a project to restore two unique historic artefacts, thanks to funding from the Association of Independent Museums and the determination and hard work of a small group of volunteers.

The two travelling bridges and their accompanying clay wagons are now on display in the Pan Kiln, where they would have been used when the pan kiln was still working.

The restoration was completed alongside our Clay Works project, which included the renovation of the pan kiln roof and the creation of a new walkway through the pan kiln which has enabled visitors to walk the entire length of the building and view both wagons close-up for the first time.

The bridges were built to transport liquid clay from the settling tanks outside the pan kiln into the building. The wagons would have been pushed along the rail tracks to pour the clay slurry onto the heated floor along the length of the pan kiln. They are the only items of their type remaining on public display – the many others that used to exist across Cornwall were lost when clay works closed down and buildings were demolished.

Prior to the project the bridges and wagons were in very poor condition, with conservation needed to prevent further deterioration.

Wheal Martyn’s curator, Jo Moore, said: “This important project should have taken six months, but thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic took two years.

“Thankfully our volunteers did not lose heart but took every opportunity to return to the project between lockdowns, under the guidance of a professional conservator and myself. The objects were conserved with the aid of a grant from the Association of Independent Museums’ Pilgrim Trust Conservation Scheme, for which we are extremely grateful.

“The bridges and wagons have been preserved for the future and visitors to Wheal Martyn can now gain better access to, and understanding of, these important objects.”