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Thursday, 3 December 2020


Historic England awards Wheal Martyn COVID-19 emergency funding

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HISTORIC England, which is responsible for protecting and championing the nation’s historic environment, has helped to secure the future of this unique museum and scheduled monument with an emergency grant of £21,103.   

Wheal Martyn is the UK’s only china clay mining museum, representing Cornwall’s largest mining industry – an industry that has seen the transfer of scientific and technological innovation from Cornwall across the world and the export of china clay across the UK and the globe. The industry was a driver of the Cornish economy for 100 years and shaped the landscape and lives of people in mid-Cornwall. The Wheal Martyn site is located within two former Victorian Clay Works, one of which is preserved in its working state and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. It is the only example of its kind that is open to the public.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown began, Wheal Martyn, like so many organisations, had to close its doors. The water supply to the historic site had to be shut down as no staff were on-site to monitor leaks and blockages. This led to the wooden elements of the monument drying out and deteriorating. The grant has funded employment costs to manage the return of water to the site, and undertake urgent essential and preventative maintenance to help reduce a build-up of excessive future costs, with funding also covering necessary material, equipment and training.

Colin Vallance, Managing Director of Wheal Martyn, said:

“We are very grateful for the support of Historic England, which enables us to address the specific issues relating to the historic fabric at Wheal Martyn, which have arisen due to the pandemic. It is particularly important we address these now to prevent escalating deterioration of the monument which would cause larger funding challenges in the future. Thus, it supports the effective long term preservation of a place which means so much to communities in Cornwall. It has also enabled the monument to be maintained in safe order, providing a place of sanctuary and inspiration at this time.”

This £1.8m fund was set up to help heritage organisations that have been severely affected by the impact of Coronavirus. The fund provides grants to help them survive the immediate challenges posed by the pandemic and to prepare for recovery. Wheal Martyn Trust is one of 70 organisations across England to have been awarded a grant through this fund.

Rebecca Barrett, Regional Director for Historic England in the South West, said:

“The team at Wheal Martyn have responded quickly to a tackle the impact of the pandemic on one of Cornwall’s most important historic sites. It is vital that Wheal Martyn and its remarkable collections come through the Coronavirus crisis in the best condition possible and plays in recovery. We’re delighted to support this crucial conservation project.”

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