In the midst of this wonderful heatwave we took a turn away from the beach for a change of scene and headed to Wheal Martyn Clay Works.
Just off the old road into St Austell, Wheal Martyn is tucked into a large wooded area – perfect for a family day out and ideal for shade seekers. There is a real Victorian Clay Works, preserved as it was when in use – its brilliant – you can see the old buildings, waterwheels in action, a couple vintage lorries and a steam train. The kids loved the massive tyres scattered around the site … they’re not Victorian of course but a sign of the modern industry which is alive today and can be seen first-hand at the viewing platform overlooking a working clay pit at the peak of the site. The history at Wheal Martyn is fascinating – you find out about Cornwall’s biggest mining industry, china clay, and discover that the clay from Cornwall is used in things we all use and never realised – paper, cosmetics, paint, rubber (and of course pottery!) and so much more…..
Amongst the woods there’s a great kids activity adventure trail with all sorts of up and overs which is kept beautifully cool in the shade – a few goes around that and we were back for a quick drink before we set off on the new discovery trail. The new trail, Kettle Kids, was created with real life ex-kettle boy Arthur who is now, at the age of 84, a volunteer at the museum. Peppered around the site are answers to questions, or for smaller discoverers a series of letters to spot and note down. The trail takes you around Wheal Martyn to discover corners of the site you might not otherwise venture to while your children learn more about the job children as young as 14 did back in the day. It’s hands on learning without actually having to make the tea and lug the heavy kettle around. There’s Kettle Kids fancy dress, (the aprons are very cool), and an actual Kettle to have a practice with (its heavy!)
You’ll find out what the kettle boys did, how much the workmen paid each week for their tea and how much Arthur got paid for his job … bit of a shocker that one!
Once you’ve solved the clues (either the questions or finding the letters), its back to the admission desk to collect rewards … and a nice cup of tea for me.
Thanks Wheal Martyn, we’ll be back soon.
Sarah (Mum), Zach (age 9) and Alice (age 8)