We provide inspiring opportunities for our communities, helping them to learn new skills and knowledge, combat social isolation or enhance their health and wellbeing. Here are some examples of these initiatives and our engagement statistics for the last year:

  • 25,788 people visited Wheal Martyn (4.6% increase on prior year)visitors engaging with an exhibition
  • 6,362 children and young people visited (18% increase on prior year)
  • 5,350 instances of community engagement (62% increase on prior year)
  • 3,147 return visits (46% increase on prior year)
  • 2,467 instances of educational participation (9% increase on prior year)
  • 1,124 Cornwall Residents’ Passes purchased
  • 125 events, activities and workshops hosted onsite
  • 13 community outreach sessions

Responding to the need

Cornwall suffers from high levels of deprivation and a high proportion of the population’s daily lives are limited by disability. Cornwall’s largest town, St. Austell, and the surrounding china clay area, is no exception, suffering from real economic and social issues.

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.

We offer opportunities for our communities to engage with and be inspired by their heritage, helping to build pride, confidence and a sense of place in our young people. For example, we provide inclusive activities, exhibitions, innovative volunteer programmes and practical heritage skills training.

We are also working to improve the accessibility of our unique historic buildings and to create enjoyable and meaningful experiences for more people.


Memory Cafe

Monthly social sessions for people suffering from memory loss, dementia and for those who support them.  Find out more here.

memory cafe in atrium

Arts and Crafts for Health Group

Weekly sessions offered through local health services as a social prescription to help people dealing with mental health challenges.

Royal visit at Wheal Martyn, interacting with arts and crafts for health group


We offer a wide range of volunteering opportunities. Over 70 regular volunteers contribute over 10,000 hours annually – the equivalent of 50% of the hours worked by our employees.

Learningchildren reading at Wheal Martyn

We offer formal education sessions and outreach activities to schools, colleges and universities, as well as bi-monthly sessions for St. Austell Home Education Group and longer running school projects. Find out more.

Family Activity Programme

We offer a broad range of activities, from pottery painting to woodland exploration during the school holidays. See our events page for upcoming activities.

Relaxed Sessions

One day a month, we encourage quieter activity to provide a suitable environment for those who prefer experiencing the museum at a quieter pace. These sessions are especially suited to people with autism, anxiety and associated conditions, and include fun with object handling, ASD-friendly activities and trails.


Below are a selection of some of our recent engagement projects:

Celebration of Light and Clay

With the support of funding from Arts Council England and Feast, over 1,000 people attended a three day event in December 2019, designed to engage new audiences.

Wheal Martyn’s historic features were creatively illuminated; UV lights lit up the woodlands, and a laser show inspired by our collection was projected onto the dramatic backdrop of the working clay pit. The local community created lanterns and UV decorations in workshops with local ceramicist Jenny Beavan, and these took pride of place during the event.

glowing clay lanterns girl with face paint in front of clay statues 1934 ERF lorry lit up

Pit, Paper, Porcelain

The second in a series of three Community Arts projects, this project inspired pupils from four local schools to get creative and express their response to their industrial heritage through writing.

The project was delivered in partnership with Kernow Education Arts Partnership (KEAP) and involved St. Dennis, Roche and Cury Primary Schools and Poltair Secondary School.

WW1 Commemoration Project

In 2018, we invited three local schools to visit Wheal Martyn to learn about wartime and discover real-life stories from the Great War. children performingOne of these stories was that of William Gould (Gunner Gould), who left the clay works with his horse ‘Punch’ to fight in the war.

A teacher from St Columb Minor School said, “Wheal Martyn gave the children a real life context for their stories. They could imagine what life would be like in the pit and it stemmed their curiosity and imaginations – what a fantastic and engaging way for the children to learn about their local history and the impact of WW1.”

The project culminated on 29th November 2018, with 150 children coming together to share their songs, poems and writing in front of their families, shining a light on wartime in the clay country. 

The two month project was delivered in partnership with Kernow Education Arts Partnership and Cornwall Music Education Hub.

Read the full story here.

Animation Workshop

In the summer of 2019, local children took part in an animation workshop at Wheal Martyn, learning new skills and creatively expressing their reactions to their china clay heritage. Check out the fantastic result here: