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26.11.04
Wheal Martyn, the Clay Country Heritage Centre at Carthew, St Austell receives investment in excess of one million pounds for re-development

An ambitious and exciting scheme to create a new display area at this award winning museum has received £769,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £299,600 from Cornwall's Objective One Programme. Investment has also been received from the Trustees of Wheal Martyn, Restormel Borough Council and Cornwall County Council. The new entrance/exhibition space has been designed by St Austell architect Alan Leather.

Building work will start soon and when completed the museum will have a circular ramped entrance hall which has space to display temporary exhibitions together with a new shop and cafe which will serve the best of Cornish produce and a new gallery that will tell the story of how clay was discovered in Cornwall in 1747 by William Cookworthy and the impact of the developing industry on the communities of what is now recognised as the 'Clay Country'. The displays will tell the stories of the men and women who worked in the industry, how they lived in the shadow of the tips, their culture and how they relaxed. The displays designed by the museum's curator, Elisabeth Chard and Alan Murray Design Ltd are exciting and innovative. Visitors will be able to rise to the challenge of a tug-of-war with a clay village team or take a virtual journey to the bottom of Wheal Martyn Pit alongside the driver of one of Imery's 50 ton dumper trucks or sit beside a monitor operator as they blast jets of water into the quarry wall, washing out the china clay.

David Owen's Wheal Martyn's Chief Executive says: "Our intention is to create a museum for the local community to be proud of, we want Cornish people to be involved and during the year we will be displaying the work of local artists, potters and photographers. It is really important that we can celebrate our unique industrial and cultural heritage, remembering the sacrifice and hard work that went into the extraction of china clay and the lasting and continuing impact that the industry has in our modern world."

Nerys Watts, Regional manager for the Heritage Lottery Fund in the South West adds: "This is a wonderful project that will greatly improve and open up the Museum to the widest possible audience. As the only china clay museum in the country it is nationally important, and will really involve visitors in this chapter of Cornwall's heritage. Restormel is a development area for the HLF, having received less than its fair share of funding, so we are thrilled to mark this award."

Carleen Kelemen, Director of the Objective One Partnership says: "It is really important that Cornwall's unique cultural heritage is recognised and conserved in this way. The museum and its new facilities will capture Cornwall's global historical mining significance and provide a valuable resource to the local economy and community."

Wheal Martyn, which is supported by clay companies Imerys and Goonvean, is unique in that you can follow the story of the china clay industry from its earliest beginnings to the present day. Situated at the edge of its grounds is the recently modernised Wheal Marytn Pit where visitors can watch the huge machinery of today extract clay to meet the demand from hundreds of different industries from paper making to plastics to computers to paints to medicine and cosmetics.

The new buildings will open in May/June 2005 in time to celebrate the tercentenary of the birth of William Cookworthy. In the meantime Wheal Martyn will reopen to visitors on the 21st March 2005 with a programme of special events for visitors and schools to mark the life of this remarkable man whose discoveries did so much to change the fortunes of Cornwall.

For further information please contact David Owen, St Austell China Clay Museum Ltd, Tel 01726 850362.

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Editor's notes:

 

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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