The Cornish Alps began to dominate the landscape as every ton of usable china clay that was mined brought with it five tonnes of waste. Railways and tramways were built to transport the material to the coast. By 1910, Cornwall was producing some fifty per cent of the world's china clay, something in the region of one million tonnes every year, seventy-five percent of which was exported. In 1919 the three main producers merged, calling themselves English China Clay, which continued to dominate the market until it was bought by French company, Imerys, in 1999, for £756m.
Any visitor to St Austell is likely to be struck by the impressive sharp peaks, known as the Cornish Alps, which dominate the surrounding landscape and represent the most visible part of a story that goes back two hundred and fifty years, the story of china clay.
China clay, as the name suggests, is a material known as kaolin, which was first used in China more than ten thousand years ago to make fine white porcelain. Some of this eventually made it's way to Europe, where the gentry still had to make do with crude earthenware pots, and porcelain was highly sought-after. Noticing a gap in the market, a Plymouth apothecary called William Cookworthy began to research the porcelain-making process and spent several years searching for a material that resembled the kaolin that had been used for so long in China. In 1745 he eventually found it, at Tregonning Hill, near Germoe, in Cornwall, where a rare type of decomposed granite, finer than most talcum powders, arises naturally.
This material was known locally as Moorstone, Growan and Growan Clay. Cookworthy found a way to seperate the material, using water to remove impurities, and then spent another twenty years developing his own recipe for making porcelain, which he succesfully patented in 1768. Cookworthy immediately established the Plymouth Porcelain Factory, and began making fine china to sell to the gentry. He also began to sell the raw material to other English potteries.
By the early nineteenth century the industry was big business. The St Austell deposits had emerged as the largest in the world, and many other uses had been found for the clay, such as in paper, paint and rubber goods. Throughout the 19th century thousands of men were employed, with harsh working conditions, either spraying the walls of open pits with high-pressure hoses to remove the clay, or processing and transporting the material, which was exported to all corners of the globe.
By the mid 19th century 65,000 tonnes of china clay were being mined in the St Austell area every year by seven thousand workers. Formerly tiny villages were quickly developed to cater for the industry. West Polmear, for example, which had a pre-china-clay population of nine, was thoroughly transformed by local landowner and entrepeneur Charles Rashleigh, who invested huge sums of money building a safe harbour for ships, and houses and factories for workers. Charlestown, as it became known, soon boasted a population of three thousand, a small dock packed with ships, and harbour sheds and warehouses bustling with boatbuilders, rope menders, brick workers, lime burners and pilchard curers.
Today, the St Austell deposits, which have produced around 120 million tonnes of china clay and are good for at least aonther fifty years, have largely been abandoned. Imerys moved most of their operations to Brazil in the early part of this century and there are now fewer than two thousand employees left in Cornwall. The legacy of China Clay still defines the region, however, with even the iconic Eden Project owing it's existence to the industry, sitting, as it does, in a former china clay pit. The China Clay Country Park, which consists of twenty-six acres of woodland located in the Ruddle valley, near St Austell, is home to the Wheal Martyn Heritage Museum, set in the grounds of two former working china clay pits. The museum is open every day throughout the summer and a series of clay trails have been developed by volunteers, providing access to this fascinating landscape for cyclists, walkers and horse riders.
Big thanks to TBm and Northern Ninja for cracking this and the intel............
Explored with UrbanGinger,Stealth and Obscurity..
No mishaps or hassles with getting to the bunker other than a man in a red van with his dog being nosey so no grand stories of our escapades im afreaid..(yay i hear you say no waffling shit)
Some history from wicki
American military forces were first stationed at High Wycombe in 1942, shortly after the United States' formal entrance into World War II. So urgent was the action that Wycombe Abbey School, situated on the land that would become the station, was given three weeks to find new facilities; failure in this effort led to the school's closing, until the independent girl's school was returned by the US in 1945.
In 1952, the station, formerly known as Daws Hill House, welcomed US forces again. The following years of the Cold War saw fluctuation in the base's importance.
Approximately 800 personnel were stationed there when, in 1969, their numbers were reduced, so that, in the early 1970s, only a small group remained for upkeep of facilities.
Then, in 1975, activity escalated, revitalising the station's importance to the American military in Europe. Its nuclear bunker, with 23,000 square feet (2,100 square meters) of space, housed high-tech equipment for the direction of nuclear bombers and guided missiles.
Use of the station was reduced with the end of the Cold War; by 1992, US Defense personnel at RAF Daws Hill numbered fewer than 350.
In 2002, the UK Ministry of Defence proposed to close RAF Daws Hill some years in the future, turning the 50 acres (20 ha) of land over to other public and private use and relocating American Naval personnel and activities to other locations near London, particularly RAF Uxbridge. The plan apparently fizzled, however, when the US Navy voiced its preference to remain. High Wycombe, desiring to build at least 400 new houses by 2011 for its growing population, considered the land ideal for up to 600 houses; but nearby residents also rejected the proposal because of the changes that it would entail, including increased traffic on relatively quiet roads.
The station was home, between 1971 and 2007, to the London Central Elementary High School, part of the Department of Defense Dependents Schools, with pupils in grades K?12. Also at Daws Hill are 70 housing units for American personnel and their families. Other facilities include warehouses and those for vehicle maintenance, as well as support buildings for persons who lived and worked at the base, such as a bank, a post office, a bowling alley, sports grounds and buildings, a small exchange, an automobile refueling station, and a social club
On with My pics from our outing.
Sorry its a bit pic heavy but its a huge site and theres a lot of bits of machinery all over the place as well as vast empty rooms.
Ok here goes for my first post, Be gentle
On my first ever Urbex experience about a month ago me and 2 seasoned urbexers made a day of visiting some locations around Kent and this one was our 2nd location of the day.
We arrived at the main gate, we tried to call the gatekeeper as past explorers have had success by asking to simply look around but we didn't get an answer. So we thought we'd throw caution into the wind and went in anyway, due to the size of the place we didnt stay long plus we have other locations to explore.
A little history
The Ace High station at, Coldblow was located alongside an existing WW2 communications station on Coldblow Hill. The transmitters, receivers and power supplies were located in a single storey brick building between the pairs of dishes. With the demise of the Ace High network the Coldblow station closed in the early 1980's was sold by auction in September 1986. The dishes, a local landmark, had been removed the previous year. A microwave tower on the site was retained by the Ministry of Defence and access rights to the tower were built into the sale agreement.
Hope you enjoy the Pics
Tower still in use
Thank you for looking
Good little explore this one, all was going well till secca appeared with dogs and got us escorted off site by police
Visited with Nelly, Skeleton Key, Msaunder1972, Non Member Ben, Troglodyte, Priority Seven, Wevsky, SpaceInvader and Obscurity.
Nelly has more than covered the History on this one so straight on with the Pics
Thanks to Nelly and the guys for pointing this one out