06 Wheal Martyn Field Trip


Wheal Martyn Field Trip
20th June 2010

     Colin Bristow, our guide for the afternoon met us at the visitor centre and gave us a talk about the china clay industry and how it was a Quaker apothecary-cum-potter, William Cookworthy, who made the discovery of clay, or kaolin, in Cornwall in 1746, and realised it was of a much finer quality than elsewhere in Europe.

  From the visitor center we followed Historic Trail past the largest working water wheel in Cornwall (10.7m or 35ft)

 At the top of the trail we arrived at viewing platform look down into the, still working,
 Wheal Martyn clay pit were the water cannon (known as monitors) could be seen at work washing the china clay out of the ground.

   BOLDER ALLEY have a display of boulders. While here Colin pointed out to the members the construction of the crystals within the rock
China clay, which finds so many industrial applications in the technical world of today, resulted in Cornwall and Devon from a sequence of events that began over 300 million years ago.
 The early history of the industry is naturally closely concerned with the discovery and production of china clays for use in ceramics. The story, though, starts thousands of years ago and thousands of miles away.
China, the pure white porcelain used by the Chinese, was discovered millennia ago and has always been a much-prized material. Despite many attempts to find it elsewhere, it remained elusive until a few deposits were found in parts of Europe and in America early in the eighteenth century, on which the search to find sources in Britain intensified.






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