Visit to discover Cornwall's secret

Dig deep and discover the special ingredient in your everyday life that still shapes Cornwall and the world today…china clay!

It hides in your toothpaste, your paper, your car tyres and even your cosmetics. It’s a billion pound, global industry. We are telling the story of Cornwall’s secret, and the people who brought it to you, from the heart of Clay Country.

Discover

  • Immerse yourself in the atmospheric grounds of the original Victorian clay works, bursting at the seams with tools, machinery, artefacts and stories. Discover Wheal Martyn’s past life at the heart of this global industry.
  • Hear real life tales of the industry which shaped the landscape and iconic ‘Cornish Alps’, and of the people in mid-Cornwall and beyond, whose lives were shaped by this ‘white gold’.
  • Find out about Cornwall’s largest mining industry, past and present, and catch a glimpse of modern machines in the working clay pit.

modern mining machinery in the working clay pit at Wheal Martyn clay folk statues at the entrance of Wheal Martyn children exploring the discovery centre at Wheal Martyn

Explore

We are an indoor and outdoor museum. Explore the indoor Discovery Centre and follow a virtual tour into a working clay pit with familyERF lorry at Wheal Martyn friendly interactive exhibits, film footage, voice recordings, and a making and drawing area. We are wonderfully dog friendly, so do bring your four legged friend along too!

Venture outside to explore...

Crib Huts

See the vital role these modest buildings played and find out what crib means!

Settling Tanks 

Now home to an array of wildlife, discover the important role these rather curious and beautiful pools played in the china clay industry.

Wagon Huts

Wheal Martyn is home to beautiful vintage vehicles, including a 1934 ERF lorry and 1916 Peerless lorry, used in World War One before coming to Cornwall.

Waterwheels

See Cornwall’s largest working waterwheel in action, and discover how these magnificent feats of engineering, with their associated ‘flat rods’, helped in mining the clay.

‘Billion Pound Boulders’

Discover fascinating examples of local geology from which valuable china clay is ‘unlocked’, as well as a unique example of exposed granite (a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest) which demonstrates a stage of kaolinisation usually only seen underground.

We are dog friendly!

Bring your four-legged friends along.

Enjoy

Woodland Trails

The museum is set within 26 acres of woodlands. Take a stroll along nature trails and woodland walks, and follow the historic trail to uncover the reasons why Wheal Martyn is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.people walking in the woodlands at Wheal Martyn

Play

Get active on the children’s adventure trail, wander through the flat rod tunnel, and try to locate the secret drum set! Dive into the play area and dressing up box and get involved in holiday activities, tug-o-war, trails and quizzes.

Refuel

Visit our vibrant cafe in the old clay works and indulge in a homemade lunch, a slice of cake and other Cornish treats. There’s even a tasty Little Miners menu!

Guided Walks

Follow in the footsteps of our knowledgeable volunteer guides and gain a unique insight into the lives of people who worked in the china clay industry (subject to availability).

New for 2020

2020 marks 200 years of mining at Wheal Martyn! This is a milestone year, including the opening of new facilities and interpretation. There will be plenty to come back and explore throughout the year!

boy doing pottery paintingExciting new exhibitions and activities are planned in our brand new exhibition gallery and activities/learning space, including renowned artist Kurt Jackson’s ‘Clay Country’ from 3 April to 5 July. Find out more about the exhibitions planned through the year.

Find out about Cornish Mining World Heritage, with brand new interpretation being installed later this year.

Keep an eye on our What’s On page to see our jam-packed activities throughout the year, from creative workshops to fun for all the family.

Planning to visit? Buy a ticket and come back for free throughout the year!