St Austell, currently the largest town in Cornwall, has had a long and varied past.
The town, which is situated in St Austell Bay, is most famous for its China Clay heritage. China Clay, which was discovered in the area by William Cookworthy
in the 18th Century, overtook traditional tin and copper mining, which were on the decline thanks to a fall in prices, as the main industry in the area. Many tin and copper mines were closed or were converted into Clay mines during the mid-19th and early 20th centuries. The huge success and high profitability of China Clay led to a boom in St Austell's population and wealth.
The town is still the main centre for the Clay Industry in the county, managed by Imerys
, with sales of £195 million posted in 2006. The Wheal Martyn Museum
and Country Park, two miles north of the town, tells the story of the men, women and children who lived, worked and played in and around the local china clay works in the era of the development and expansion of clay as the premier industry in the St Austell area. A small but interesting and popular museum opened in the Market House in 2011.
Tourism is becoming increasingly important to the economy of the area. The St Austell Bay area has a plethora of different attractions for tourists visiting the area. The Eden Project
is a major employer in the town and is world renowned not only as a tourist attraction but also for its contribution to sustainability and environmental issues globally. The Lost Gardens of Heligan
are one of the most picturesque and intriguing gardens in the UK. This award winning restored garden has featured on TV on a number of occasions and continues to attract tourists all year round.
The town is served by a number of excellent hotels some of which have been established for many years. In 2010 the 4* Cornwall Hotel and Spa opened and further quality tourism facilities are planned at the Beach at Carlyon Bay.
The parish includes several churches, including the 13th Century Holy Trinity Parish Church
, a very good example of a Quaker Meeting House
, two Methodist chapels (St John's
and Mount Charles
), the Salvation Army
, a modern Roman Catholic Church
, a Baptist Chapel
and some independent churches. The faith communities are very active within the town and make a very significant and important contribution to the wider local community.