Wheal Martyn is keen to to inspire and reconnect the people of Cornwall with an important part of their heritage – china clay mining – which has shaped much of the Cornwall we live in today.
As the traditional tin and copper mining industries in Cornwall started to decline in the late nineteenth century, the china clay industry began to grow very rapidly and has far outstripped these industries both in size, economic contribution and the development of mining technology and research. The industry was the most important driver in the Cornish economy for over 100 years, with the value of china clay produced in Cornwall far exceeding all metalliferous minerals combined.
The china clay industry has also dramatically shaped parts of our landscape and the lives of people across Cornwall. Many thousands were working in the industry at its peak; many of us have parents, grandparents or great grandparents who worked (or still work) either directly or indirectly in the industry. Indirectly, everyone still has connections with the industry as users of the many products which contain china clay – ceramics, paper, rubber, paint and toothpaste – to name just a few!
Wheal Martyn, located in the heart of Cornwall’s Clay Country (just two miles north of St. Austell), is set within two preserved Victorian clay works. It tells the stories of the industry, its workforce and surrounding communities, in an atmospheric and truly special place. The site incorporates historic features, now protected by Historic England, including Cornwall’s largest working waterwheel, an engine house, flat rod tunnel, crib hut, kilns and clay work buildings as well as woodland walks, an indoor discovery centre and exhibitions of industrial artefacts, social history and vintage lorries. At the peak of the site, through the woodland walks, there is a spectacular view into a modern working clay pit and children can play and explore in the challenge trail or woodland.
Wheal Martyn also provides a focus for culture within the ‘Clay Country’, preserving the heritage of various aspects of local life such as bands, choirs and chapels. The literature of Clay Country is also celebrated, including the work of renowned poet Jack Clemo who was inspired by the landscape.
From November 2018 to February 2019, Wheal Martyn is offering a discounted annual admission to all Cornwall residents so that they can come along and find out more about their clay mining roots.
Admission during these months is just £6.50 per adult and £5.50 per child (children under 5 are free) and for this price you can visit as often as you like for 12 months. All you need to do is show proof of address to purchase your annual ticket.
Wheal Martyn welcomes dogs throughout and also has a café and shop. An annual admission ticket can also be given as a gift. To find out more about the offer please pop in or call 01726 850362.