My day out: Wheal Martyn Clay Works


Wheal Martyn is Cornwall’s China Clay Museum. It’s a Victorian clay works telling just part of Cornwall’s mining history. Beyond the storytelling of the museum it has built up a sizeable family attraction with indoor and outdoor exhibitions as well as activities and trails to keep everyone in the family entertained.

We didn’t have kids in tow but you can appreciate all that’s on offer for those that do when they visit Wheal Martyn. We enjoyed a walk around the grounds, a wander around the museum and a spot of lunch.

It’s one of those signs I’ve passed numerous times en route to St Austell and yet I’ve never known what to expect. I thought it about time to see what it is actually all about.

The Mill
The Mill

China clay mining in Cornwall

I knew the museum was about the old china clay mining but other than that I didn’t know what to expect. What I was most pleasantly surprised about was the amount of stuff that was at Wheal Martyn. With numerous attractions outside as well as an inside and outside museum there is a lot more there than what meets the eye.

It was interesting to learn about the history of the china clay mining that dominated this stretch of the river in St Austell. Protected under the Scheduled Ancient Monument scheme by English Heritage, the museum site incorporates historic buildings and numerous clay mining exhibits. Two mines, Gomm Works and Wheal Martyn Works, are part of the site. Although Gomm Works ceased activity in the 1920s, the pit at Wheal Martyn is still in action today.


What’s on at

Wheal Martyn Clay Works
Wheal Martyn Clay Works

The museum and its various exhibits are really very interesting from the settling tanks and water wheels to the children’s adventure trail and Flat Rod Tunnel. There’s also an indoor discovery centre and a woodland walk (one of many walks around the site) that leads you to stunning views of clay pit being worked still.

It is largely a museum of information gathering and while there are some interactive exhibits in the discovery centre, it’s not as engaging as other more modern museums.

Family friendly and dog friendly

This day out can be enjoyed by most. Although the walks are quite steep in places so may not be suitable for some who struggle with mobility. They accept dogs on leads in all areas of the museum, which worked well with our two cocker spaniels, although we did have to sit outside to eat but this is understandable.

Once you visit the museum you get free entry for the rest of the year. It offers a nice place to walk the dogs and the perfect excuse for a cream tea (jam on first for me!) - there’s a very nice cafe here too.

Dig in!
Dig in!

Practical tips for visiting

•There is parking at the museum

•There are ramps to help people to get around within the museum

•The grounds are undulating, so consider this ahead of planning a walk

•There’s a cute shop and lovely cafe on-site

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About the author: Rob is our customer experience advisor.