Wheal Martyn unlocks the secret of Cornwall's "White Alps" and unfolds the 250 year saga behind Cornwall's biggest industry on a 26 acre site which combines real production with reconstruction.
China Clay comes from decomposing feldspar in granite and is the main ingredient of porcelain - for years a Chinese secret until in 1768, a Plymouth apothecary called William Cookworthy patented his formula for a paste using Cornish deposits. Today it remains a key component of ceramics but is more widely used for paper coating and filling.
A fascinating history comes alive in Wheal Martyn's vivid audio-visual, which charts the extraordinary rise of China Stone and Clay from local building material and furnace-liner to high profile, international industry, creating world-famous tableware and producing over 3,000,000 tons annually.
This background stands you in good stead for the History Trail. Prefaced by displays of tools, steam locomotives and the original oil-fired generator, it takes you stage by stage through a 19th century clay works which incorporate Cornwall's largest working water-wheel.
A second Nature Trail shows the reconciliation of industry and environment. It explores a unique range of habitats - man-made and natural - culminating in the spectacular Pit View overlooking the modern Wheal Martyn at work, employing the latest extraction methods.
Children meanwhile are well catered for. There is a play area for the little ones, and for the over-l 0's a challenging, commando-style Adventure Trail of their own. The Gift and Coffee Shops provide a choice of rendezvous for the family to meet for a snack or choose a souvenir of an unforgettable visit.
ST AUSTELL CHINA CLAY MUSEUM LTD
Cornwall OnlineHeritage Trail