We exist to preserve and keep alive Cornwall’s china clay mining heritage, which shaped our world.

Our mission:

To sustain, at the heart of Cornwall’s Clay Country, a place for everyone to celebrate, discover and learn about Cornwall’s china clay industry, past and present: an industry that changed people’s lives locally and across the world.

Charitable objects

children playing with toolsWheal Martyn Trust’s charitable objects, approved by the Charity Commission are:

To secure for the benefit of the public the preservation, restoration, improvements, enhancements and maintenance of features and objects of historical and industrial interest in the area of St Austell and the surrounding districts of Cornwall, including the provision of an industrial museum relating to the china clay industry and the organisation of meetings, exhibitions, lectures, publications and other forms of instruction relevant to the historical and industrial development of central Cornwall.

Our context

Cornwall suffers from high levels of deprivation, with a high proportion of the population whose daily lives are limited to some extent by disability. Cornwall’s largest town, St. Austell, and the surrounding china clay area is no exception, suffering from real economic and social issues, including low incomes, low housing affordability and problems with overall health and wellbeing. The number of people living with limiting long term illness is above the national average and up to 22% of children are reportedly living in poverty.

As the focal point for the celebration of Cornwall’s iconic china clay industry, Wheal Martyn is well placed to play a key role in addressing some of these issues as part of wider local aspirations to reverse the fortunes of St. Austell, the china clay area and its people.

Delivering our charitable objects


  • To ensure a self-sustaining Accredited Museum set within historic grounds, contributing to the long-term prosperity of the area. waterwheelManaged to enhance its special qualities, with long term economic and environmental impacts in mind, priority is given to engaging a wider range of people with our collections and historic site, enabling our communities and visitors to be inspired by and actively involved with the industrial heritage which shaped the area, enhancing their knowledge, enjoyment, confidence and wellbeing.
  • To balance management of the historic environment and collections care with public access, recreation and educational activities, providing access for all, wherever practicable, increasing awareness with high quality indoor and outdoor exhibitions, interpretation and activities.
  • To have a thriving trading subsidiary, supported by the local community, making significant contributions to the charity’s finances, assuring the Trust’s long term future.

Key Activities

In order to fulfil the Trust’s charitable objects we carry out the following:

Operation of an Accredited Museum

  • Safeguarding, preserving, conserving and making accessible a collection of objects and archives related to the china clay industry, industrial heritage and history of the area.
  • Preserving and providing public access to the natural and built historic environment, including a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Scheduled Ancient Monument.children doing dance routine
  • Providing public access for people of all abilities to Wheal Martyn, which includes an interactive discovery centre, Victorian clay works, 26 acres of historic grounds with woodland walks and children’s trails.
  • Providing volunteer opportunities.

Education of the public

  • Making artefacts, documents, photographs and built heritage accessible for educational purposes.
  • Providing safe and welcoming formal and informal educational opportunities for a wide and increasingly diverse audience via a range of activities including interpretation, visits from educational establishments and community groups, guided tours, events and workshops.
  • Outreach through visits to schools, providing talks in the community and attendance at events in the locality.
  • Working with schools, colleges and universities on projects


The charity is governed by a Board of Trustees, including a corporate Trustee, South West Lakes Trust.  It has a wholly owned trading subsidiary which generates profits through the operation of a café and shop which are gift aided to the charity to further its work.

Administrative support is provided by South West Lakes Trust and includes administration, finance, IT, HR, training, procurement, marketing, public relations, development and planning.

Organisational priorities

Our current strategic plan focuses on the current priorities:guided tour outside the museum to a group of people

  • Sustainability and resilience
  • Scheduled Ancient Monument and collections management
  • Public enjoyment, education and communication
  • Organisational development (including workforce)
  • Efficiency and growth

Our current Business Plans runs to 2022 and has the following overarching aim:

  • Grow the capacity of the organisation to realise its development plans and increase visitor numbers to a level that enables the museum to cover day-to-day operational costs, including an appropriate level of educational and curatorial input. Achieved through increasing earned income, allowing all fundraising activity to support delivery of projects which further the charitable objectives, with profits from the trading subsidiary used to lever match funding.

The Trust has an Audience Development Plan and Equality and Diversity Plan, both of which aim to broaden the range of people we work with and prioritise the furthering of our work for the benefit of children and young people, people with disabilities and the local community, including people from socio-economically deprived backgrounds.

Annual Report

Download our most recent Annual Report and Financial Statement.


The Trust has a range of polices approved by its Trustees which guide our work – just some of these are listed below:

  • Equality and dignity at Work Policy
  • Collections Development Policy
  • Care and Conservation Policy
  • Documentation Policy
  • Volunteering Policy
  • Environmental Sustainability Policy
  • Safeguarding Policy

Future plans

In order to ensure that the objects of the charity are delivered for the long term, the Trust has identified a number of projects which will achieve the following:

  • A sustainable future for the charityview of the clay pit at Wheal Martyn
  • Preserve the Scheduled Ancient Monument
  • Enhance the museum and archive collections and make them increasingly accessible
  • Further engage the community
  • Develop the visitor experience

These exciting projects are set out in our Masterplan, developed in 2017 which is supported and informed by our Interpretation Strategy, Conservation Management Plan (for the Scheduled Ancient Monument), Access Audit and Fundraising Strategy.