To ensure our rich china clay heritage is preserved, understood and accessible to all, we develop and deliver a range of projects to further the aims of the charity. As a small museum, we rely on project funding to support our education, engagement and curatorial work, as well as larger scale development projects, set out in our Masterplan which are designed to help secure and sustain the museum into the future.

Our ambitious range of projects seek to achieve the following:

  • Preserve the museum collection and historic buildings
  • Provide opportunities for learning, community engagement and wellbeing
  • Enhance the visitor experience

If you would like to support our projects with an online donation, please click here or contact us.

Read about some of our projects, past, present and future below.


Clay Works

2018 to 2022, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and others

The Clay Works project is a key part of our ambitious plans for Wheal Martyn, set out in our Masterplan developed in 2017 and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and others. The project involves the preservation of historic buildings and the adaptation of an industrial heritage building into a creative learning and activity space and a gallery for temporary exhibitions. It also includes a four year programme of targeted engagement activity, aimed at providing positive experiences for our community. Find out more here.

Clay Works project site
National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) Programme

April 2018 to March 2022, a partnership project led by Cornwall Museums Partnership, principally funded by Arts Council England

As part of a collaboration of seven museums in Cornwall, we are receiving investment which supports collections management and conservation, part funds the employment of a full time Exhibition and Engagement Officer and enables a wide range of initiatives including exhibitions, activities and targeted projects. These are all aimed at engaging a wider range of people and sharing our collections and heritage with a broader audience. Match funding has been secured from a number of sources including the National Lottery Heritage Fund (through the Clay Works project), Cornwall Community Foundation, British Science Association, Cornwall Council Community Chest, European Social Fund (via Cultivator Cornwall), Creative Skills and Imerys Employees Charitable Trust.

Childrens activities at Wheal Martyn
Cornish Mining World Heritage

2019-20, Cornish Mining World Heritage Site and Cornwall Council

The project will install a permanent exhibition at Wheal Martyn to interpret the links between china clay mining and metalliferous mining. The exhibition will provide more in-depth detail about Luxulyan Valley (part of the World Heritage Site) and will realise our role as the Area Centre for Area 8 of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site.

Treffry Viaduct Luxulyan Valley

Future Plans

Our Masterplan, developed in 2017, sets out a number of initiatives which we seek to deliver over the coming years and is supported by an Interpretation Strategy, Access Review and Habitat Management Plan. These projects include:

  • Creation of a pottery workshop and community kiln facility
  • Creation of an onsite archive and new collection store
  • Re-display of the Transport Yard and Pan Kiln Linhay
  • Extended café and reconfigured trading facilities
  • Access improvement projects
  • Improved interpretation and new exhibitions
  • Further restoration works to the Scheduled Ancient Monument
  • Permanent exhibition on modern mining
  • Enhancement of children’s play areas
  • Environmental improvements
  • Community stage area/ outdoor performance area

In addition, we will also continue to develop projects to conserve the collection, engage the community through arts and heritage, provide learning opportunities and opportunities to enhance health and wellbeing.

If you would like more information about our future projects or can help us achieve our ambitious plans, please get in touch.


18 foot waterwheel restoration

Completed in 2017, funded by The Association for Industrial Archaeology, Cornwall Heritage Trust, Historic England, the Sylvia Waddilove Foundation and individual donors

The 18 foot waterwheel is a key part of the Scheduled Ancient Monument at Wheal Martyn. It is a key exhibit due to its historical importance as one of only two remaining working waterwheels in the china clay area and its education value. After years of exposure to the weather, the wooden parts of the wheel had deteriorated to such an extent that the wheel could no longer operate. The extensive refurbishment included replacing all the wooden elements of the wheel and its associated launder with prime European oak, replacing the steel tie bars and stripping and repainting the cast iron wheel.
To find out more, read the project report.

Waterwheel repairs at Wheal Martyn18 foot waterwheel at Wheal Martyn
Signal box restoration

Completed in 2019, by students from Cornwall College, St. Austell

The Torycombe signal box is a unique survival of a rare type of signal box used on an industrial railway, carrying china clay. It once controlled trains passing the Torycombe level crossing of the Lee Moor Tramway (1854) in Devon. A team of college students developed their carpentry and maintenance skills through the restoration of this important exhibit within our Transport Yard displays. See the results of their work here.

Ready to dismantle the signal box
Mobile crane restoration

Completed in 2018, funded by through the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) conservation scheme, supported by The Pilgrim Trust

The project completely restored a mobile crane, which forms part of our Transport Yard displays. Once used to build incline railways on clay spoil tips, the crane has been painstakingly restored by our wonderful volunteers, named ‘Heritage Heroes’ at the Cornwall Heritage Awards in 2018.  To find out more click here.

Mobile crane at Wheal Martyn
Major Partner Museum (MPM) Programme

April 2015 to March 2018, a partnership project led by Cornwall Museums Partnership, principally funded by Arts Council England

As part of a collaboration of five museums in Cornwall, we received investment to support the management of our collections, enabling Wheal Martyn to become a ‘teaching hospital’, offering training and support to museums across Cornwall. The programme also supported the development of our Masterplan and initiatives to engage broader audiences through new exhibitions, inclusion projects and community arts projects.

Childrens activities at Wheal Martyn
HLF Catalyst (Partnership Project)

2014 to 2016 funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England and Cornwall Council

The project set out to enable museums in Cornwall to improve skills and increase capacity in fundraising, including many independent, small and volunteer-led organisations. The project was led by seven museums, with Wheal Martyn managing and hosting the project officers. Through this project, we received mentoring to develop a detailed Fundraising Strategy (adopted by Trustees in 2015) and employees participated in an extensive programme of training on a range of fundraising topics.

HLF logo
Strategic Support Fund Project (Partnership Project)

Completed in 2015, a twelve month project funded by Arts Council England and Cornwall Council

We were the lead partner on this joint project involving six museums in Cornwall who worked alongside smaller museums on joint projects such as fundraising, marketing and volunteer training. The project was designed to ensure Cornwall’s museums are sustainable for the future, both by reducing costs and increasing fundraising. As part of the project, we benefitted from joint promotional activity, product development, new donation boxes and audience intelligence work.

Arts Council logo
Conservation Management Plan

Completed in 2013 with funding from the Clay Country Local Action Group*, English Heritage and the Community Development Foundation

The project produced a detailed Conservation Management Plan for the Scheduled Ancient Monument at Wheal Martyn. The plan details the current state of the monument and its preservation needs, providing strategic direction for the management and conservation of the Scheduled areas for the next ten years and allowing the museum to grow with the local community’s needs.

Historic buildings at Wheal Martyn
Business Development Project

Completed in 2013 with funding from the Clay Country Local Action Group*

The purpose of this project was to develop our trading operation and focused on three aspects: marketing to actively bring in new business, maximising sales and building repeat business. This included the production of a new website, introduction of a computerised till system and refurbishment of the café.

Wheal Martyn cafe
Collection Store Refurbishment

Completed in 2012 with funding from the Tanner Trust

The complete refurbishment of our main collection store included adding correct environmental control measures and installing a glass door with timed lighting so that visitors can see inside the store. Alongside this, a team of volunteers worked to rationalise the other collection storage areas.

Collections store at Wheal Martyn
Re-engaging the clay country with its heritage

2011 to 2014 with funding support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Clay Country Local Action Group*, Tanner Trust, Norman Family Charitable Trust and individual donors.

This project included employing a part time Curator and part time Education Officer to re-engage the community with Wheal Martyn and begin to address collection management challenges following a period of decline up until it became part of South West Lakes Trust in 2010. Throughout the project, 97 groups were engaged, 4,557 learners participated in formal education, 67 events were delivered, 31 talks given, 28 external events attend and 27 new volunteers recruited.

School performance at Wheal Martyn
Collections audit

Completed in 2011 with funding support from Cornwall Council Small Museums Grant Scheme and the Carew Pole Trust

An audit of our object collection was carried out by an independent museum professional to assess and inform the Trust on the state of the collection in terms of documentation, storage and display. It also set out recommendations and priorities for the managing collections over the coming years.

Porcelain collection

*NB – where funding is stated as provided by the Clay Country Local Action Group this means: Funded by the European Agricultural Fund for European Development 2007-2013 through the Clay Country Local Action Group on behalf of DEFRA.