Somehow I managed to lose a few blogging days last week. It’s been a bit tricky trying to meet writing deadlines that are earlier this month than usual because everyone, me included, wants to take time off for Christmas. Anyway, I have a small window of time today, so I thought I’d tell you about our visit to Wheal Martyn as promised.
The final day of our Cornish holiday seems in the dim and distant past now. Actually it was only the end of October, and just looking at our photos takes me right back to it. It was the first day that we woke up to rain, but it was our only chance to see the open air clay museum exhibits, so we went anyway. And once we were there, the rain lessened and finally ceased.
In any case, we started with the indoor displays that told the story of the workers when this was a working clay mine, and of the lives of the local community. And we read about some of the characters connected with the mine over the years, all of which I have to admit has gone out of my mind right now.
Jade was very well behaved in there, but glad to emerge into the open air at the far end. Then we were following a historic trail through the former china clay works, and the first thing we saw was an enormous waterwheel. At 35 feet high it is the largest working water wheel in Cornwall.
From there we entered a yard with some ancient vehicles and railway carriages that showed how the end product was transported away from the works.
Here we found more shelter from the rain and more indoor exhibits to wander around, before heading upstairs to where the clay was dried on a tiled floor heated by hot air from furnaces in the blacksmith’s workshop below. When it was dry, the clay was packed into barrels ready for transportation.
After this we followed a roundabout route passing another water wheel, and noting various methods of moving water around to and from the settling tanks and sand drags.
Jade was not too sure about entering the flat rod tunnel, through which the rods from the massive water wheel below pushed the power used in the pit.
But she did follow us as we bent down to walk through it on our way to the pithead viewpoint where we could see more modern methods of extracting the clay taking place far below us.
On the way back we passed this quaint seat waiting for tired ramblers.
We also took in a nature trail that pleased Jade no end. Then she was tired enough to rest in the car while we polished off another Cornish pasty lunch.