Thurs 19th October….all to do with china clay

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Today we split up – with Malcolm and Ann going to Eden whilst we went off to the china clay museum at Wheal Martyn. Eden of course is built on or inside an old china clay pit, as the dramatic photo below shows….what a transformation! And the biomes are out-of-this-world, or rather of other worlds we perhaps can’t visit but can experience here. We must definitely visit ourselves again soon.

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Anyway off to Wheal Martyn we went in the heavy rain, as it says ‘the UK’s only china clay mining experience’. And an excellent experience it is too, taking you through the whole china clay process with working artefacts scattered around the site and plenty to look at indoors too.

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We sheltered in one of the drying sheds for quite a long time, and in the ground floor below this level there were fascinating displays relating to processes and workforce, including their out-of-work activities (splendid bands for instance some of which survive).

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And the setting is fabulous….on a nice day it would be great to wander through the extensive grounds. But we were grateful for every little shelter today, including tunnels!

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At the end of the trail, which we bravely followed, there is a viewing platform to gaze down in awe at the spectacular view overlooking the ‘Wheal Martyn’ china clay pit.  This huge working pit is still alive with activity today and is operated by Imerys Minerals Ltd. Breathtaking.

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We will return, particularly as this museum like many others, offers an annual pass with the admission ticket, and I would love to go on one of the guided tours with one of the ex-miners, sure to bring the whole thing alive. I am really glad we visited, as china clay is still an important industry and employer in Cornwall, and I wanted to know more about it.

Off we went to a local pub to try to get a little dry before picking up Malcolm and Ann. Having enthused about our various experiences we then set off for St Austell and a drive north through china clay country. A fitting end to the day.

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