May 10th 2018

Wheal Martyn’s Clay Works Project Secures £1.35 Million

Wheal Martyn Trust is celebrating its success in securing National Lottery funding with an award of £858,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards its £1.35m Clay Works Project.  This award recognises the international heritage significance of Wheal Martyn as the world’s only china clay mining museum.  The museum includes a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is set within the preserved remains of two former Victorian clay works and tells the story of an industry that has shaped the landscape, economy and lives of people in the ‘Clay Country’ through the extraction and exportation of china clay worldwide.

The Clay Works Project is focused on conserving the historic Pan Kiln and Mica Dry buildings and also includes a training scheme in historic building conservation techniques in partnership with Cornwall College.  The project will improve how the story of the industry is told across the site, enhance the natural landscape setting and deliver a programme of exhibitions, events and activities to attract more people from the local community and other visitors to this incredible site.

Colin Vallance, Managing Director of Wheal Martyn said “Clay Works is a really exciting first step in our plans to put Wheal Martyn increasingly at the heart of our special part of Cornwall and we are thrilled to have secured such a significant investment from the National Lottery along with important contributions from a range of other funders. The project will preserve the historic Mica Dry and Pan Kiln buildings, which form part of the Scheduled Ancient Monument and create within them new spaces for activities, learning and temporary exhibitions”

The project will also create improved access within the historic buildings for all visitors and provide new interpretation. The project isn’t just about building improvements though – a four year programme of activity is planned which will provide training opportunities in practical heritage skills to help local people to build skills and confidence in a workplace setting.  New events and activities will be held, encouraging more families to get involved with this fascinating historic location, a changing exhibition programme will create many reasons to return and educational and community groups will benefit from the vastly improved facilities and enhanced engagement programmes.

Colin went on to say “We are extremely appreciative of the financial support from all the funders which have enabled this project to be realised.  These include Arts Council England through their National Portfolio investment in Cornwall (delivered by Cornwall Museums Partnership), a pledge from The Garfield Weston Foundation, The Foyle Foundation, The Pilgrim Trust, Historic England, the Wolfson Foundation, Imerys Minerals, The Hobson Charity and Cornwall Council”.

Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, we’re delighted to support this project which will provide a secure future for the historic Pan Kiln and Mica Dry buildings and share the fascinating heritage of China Clay. Focused on an industry which helped to shape many communities in Cornwall, this project fittingly puts opportunities for people at its heart – from building skills to learning about the stories of their county.”

John Ette, Heritage at Risk Principal for Historic England in the South West said: “We are really pleased to support the conservation of the historic Pan Kiln and Mica Dry buildings which are on our Heritage at Risk Register. Working with the museum and our partners in the Heritage Lottery Fund we hope the project will also greatly enhance the visitor experience of this key part of Cornwall’s industrial heritage.”

The support of so many well-known funders shows real confidence in Wheal Martyn’s potential to conserve the heritage of China Clay and to create new opportunities for people to enjoy, learn and be inspired by this fascinating part of Cornwall’s history.

It is anticipated that building works will commence in October this year with the new facilities opening with a fabulous exhibition on the unusual uses of China Clay in the summer of 2019, however new activities and volunteer opportunities will be on offer from summer 2018.

Follow the progress of Clay Works on our website, on Facebook or Twitter, or get in touch 01726 850362 or