The landscape surrounding St Austell and its neighbouring villages in mid Cornwall is filled with china clay tips, pits, engine houses and waterways, the carriers of the stories from 250 years of china clay mining. Its dramatic scenery and a fascinating area to explore.

The area has been made more accessible by the development of a network of trails for walking, cycling and horse riding. These trails, and encouraging their greater use, was the focus for a project between Sensory Trust and Eden Project.

In collaboration with Eden Project, Sensory Trust developed a new website, map and leaflets promoting the Clay Trails. Involement from the local community and businesses were key to the project's sucess and the legacy of the project lives on through the Clay Trails partnership.

Read an article about the Clay Trails as featured in Eden Friends Magazine (pdf 1.6MB)

Clay Tales banner logo - images of the china clay landscape and an historic image of china clay workers

Clay Tales - sharing the stories of the clay

The Sensory Trust has created a new app and sensory guides to immerse people in the stories and experiences of the clay area, an extraordinary post-mining landscape in the heart of Cornwall

Clay Tales icon - illustration of a deep grey clay waste tip with Clay Tales written in white

The Clay Tales app

The Clay Tales app is a story walk based on the trails that criss cross the china clay landscape around St Austell, Cornwall, England. The app explores the landscape, community and industrial heritage of the area using the stories of local people and the poems of Jack Clemo. We have gathered tales from people who have lived and worked in the area and who have kindly shared what life has been like and what the clay industry has meant to them. 

How to access the app

Just click on the button below to download the Clay Tales app from the Play store.

Clay Tales link to the Play store

Text versions of the tales

You can download a text version of all the Clay Tales stories here.

You can download a Large Print text version of all the Clay Tales stories here.

 

Title page screenshot from the Clay Tales app Map page screenshot from the Clay Tales app Audio playing page screenshot from the Clay Tales app

Listen to 'Coopers, casks and covers' one of the Clay Tales here

Listen to 'A lucky escape' one of the Clay Tales here

Sensory guides

The guides outline the sensory highlights of the China Clay area and the sorts of things you will experience when out enjoying them.

Download the Clay Trails Sensory Guide here (pdf)

Download the Large Print Clay Trails Sensory Guide here (pdf)

Download the Widgit Clay Trails Sensory Guide here (pdf)

Download the Large Print Clay Trails Map here (pdf)

More about the China Clay trails

The clay trails form a significant part of Cornwall’s history, representing the past importance of china clay industries to St Austell and the surrounding area. The trails themselves weave through mid Cornwall, connecting important landmarks such as Wheal Martyn Clay Country Park, Eden Project and Par Beach, and continue to have close links with nearby working clay pits. They are particularly important to local communities who are disadvantaged through the loss of their main industry. The trails are a strong connection to the past and potential positive futures for these communities.

Audio poems (not in the app)

We had additional poems by Jack Clemo read by students of Brannel school which can be heard here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XvN-c-fP64&list=UUhiExCIE7FeQ1aO_e9Vc3rQ
snowfall at kernick

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOUBOJCJ73M&list=UUhiExCIE7FeQ1aO_e9Vc3rQ
neutral ground

About Jack Clemo

Jack Clemo was born in 1916 in a small granite cottage in the foot of a waste dump on Goonamarris slip in the heart of clay country where he lived almost all of his life.  Clemo wrote novels, autobiographies, stories and a spiritual manifesto, though is best remembered for his poetry.  Jack Clemo went deaf when still in his teens and then blind in his late 30s.  He died in 1994 in his wife's hometown of Weymouth in Dorset.

If you would like to know more about Jack Clemo there is a film about his life:
'Roots of My Story': The Clemos at Trethosa Chapel

Thank you

We are very grateful for the generous assistance from:

  • Heritage Lottery Fund and Cornwall Community Foundation for supporting this project
  • Azook who interviewed many residents of the China Clay area as a part of the Cornish Memory project.
  • The University of Exeter for permitting us to share the work of poet Jack Clemo, especially Luke Thompson.
  • Brannel school for the use of their recording facilities and to the pupils who recorded audio for the app and website.
  • Souldeep media for recording and mastering much of the audio.
  • The members of the China Clay Historical Society for being interviewed and for their images.
  • Emma Mansfield for her help with the images, you can find Emma's "Little Book of Clay Country" here.

 

Heritage Lottery Fund logo

azook logobrannock school logo

CCF logo University of Exeter logo

Our Clay Trails - a short film about what the clay trails in mid Cornwall mean to local people with learning disabilities

Children enjoying King Edward Mine

Our latest Heritage project Pilchards, Pits and Postcards is bringing to life the stories of Cornish heritage.

a monitor blasting water at granite rock An excavator maching mining the clay in a quarryNanpean clay drying kiln Row of clay workers covered in clay Arial view from Lansalson and Ruddle to Gunheath and Stenalees Baal pit with china Clay mica dam, bright blue because of the settling clay

Images by the China Clay Historical Society

Find out how we have been working with the communities of the Clay area in Cornwall

What will I be? Poster inviting local people to share ideas for their local hall

Links