I’ve been speaking to so many people I decide to use my last day to walk around the clay trail again, there are a few offshoots from the path that I’m told can get me in closer. I need this time to think and look back at the information I already have. The archivists gave me lots of literature, images and films to take back with me. There is this great magazine with a picture of a hand holding a fresh lump of unrefined kaolin from the pits, it looks like some kind of poultice not at all like rock.
It gets me back to thinking of why I first came to St Austell, to see this raw material and landscape first hand, to physically get to the stuff that I had been reading so much about and that these men – Cooksworthy, Billingsley, Wedgewood – had obsessed over. Material pioneers who lusted after the purest and finest material to form into object that would outlast their lives and countless others.
The mines look like another world, unlike anywhere I’ve seen before. What must of it have been like to witness the changing of this green and verdant landscape to one of white mountains and valleys of dust. They have been used on many occasions for filming, Malcolm told me that they filmed some the BBC Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy here – a show I have fond memories of watching with my dad and sister years ago. This could as well be another planet, there is nobody else around and I get to spend hours under the sun wandering up and around these earthly pits.