White River Place is new home for iconic china clay monitor

Mon 7th August 2017

An iconic symbol of Mid-Cornwall’s china clay mining industry is to take centre stage as a new piece of public art in St Austell’s White River Place Shopping Centre.   

Apprentices at Imerys Minerals have restored one of the company’s decommissioned monitor jets which is being installed in White River Place as a celebration of the past, present and future of the industry and its links with the town.   Monitor jets are used to wash china clay from the surrounding rock with a powerful stream of high-pressure water and continue to be used in pits across Mid-Cornwall.  

 Last year’s Whitegold festival of clay, held in the town, saw Imerys organise a temporary exhibition of a monitor in White River Place, which attracted considerable interest from people visiting the town centre. 

Following this, the company spoke with White River Place and the St Austell Bay Economic Forum about donating a permanent exhibit.   

Steve Turpin, Engineering Manager at the Imerys engineering facility at Drinnick, said: “Imerys is delighted to be donating this monitor to the town.   

“It is very fitting that people coming to White River Place will be able to see and touch one of the work-horses of a proud industry which over many years has, and continues to, shape the Cornish economy, its cultural identity and the town of St Austell itself.   

“Apprentices Jack Farley and Ollie Worton worked on the project to refurbish the monitor and prepare it for public exhibition and their names are now on a plaque on the monitor. They should be very proud of their achievement and the skills they have learned during this restoration.”   

 The china clay monitor is being installed in the square outside the Halifax bank, close to the pedestrian entrance to the White River Place car park.   

Richard Hurst, White River Place Centre Manager, said: “We were very pleased to support the inaugural Whitegold and to host many of the events, including the temporary exhibition of the monitor which was a star attraction for adults and children alike.   

“It’s a real thrill to be able to go one step further and, with the support of Imerys, to have this wonderful piece of engineering art permanently on show as a tribute to the industry which has shaped this area and its people and indeed gave its name to the Centre itself.”       

The Whitegold festival is just part of a wider initiative - the Clay Town Vision - brought forward a diverse group of business leaders, community groups, artists, heritage organisations, educational institutions and local politicians under the leadership of the St Austell Bay Economic Forum (SABEF).   

The Clay Town Vision seeks to develop an ambitious cultural, environmental and commercial vision built around the celebration of its clay industry heritage and an ambitious plan to make St Austell world-renowned for its ceramic arts.   

James Staughton, SABEF Chairman, said: “St Austell has a huge amount to be proud of, and in particular its world class clay industry. So as well as showcasing the past and present of clay there is a real opportunity to use the material which has defined the area to drive future economic, social and cultural regeneration and to grow an international reputation as a centre for ceramics and clay arts and crafts.”   

This year’s Whitegold festival takes place on Saturday September 30 2017. For more information go to: www.whitegold.org.uk  

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