Restormel Arts has received a grant of £39,200 from the Heritage Lottery
Fund (HLF) to support the creation of a Heritage Festival and Community Play
for St Austell. This will offer an opportunity for all members of the
community, both young and old, to join together in celebrating the rich history
and culture of what was once described as "the most flourishing town in
the country". The successful outcome of the bid is the result of over 12
months' planning in which Restormel Arts has been assisted by representatives
from a number of local organisations including Radio St Austell Bay, Wheal
Martyn Museum, St Austell Market House CIC, Cornwall College (St Austell), the
Town Council, and the St Austell Learning Community.
The project will explore the development of St Austell and raise
awareness of local history through a series of community based activities that
will include filmed oral history interviews and the production of a website.
Volunteers will draw together an archive of historical press reports, photos
and other material which will be used to create a booklet and flyers.
Participants in the project will have the opportunity to receive training in a
range of relevant skills.
At the heart of the Festival will be a community play based on events in
1847 when protesting miners and clayworkers swept through the town and were
confronted by troops and the local magistrates outside the Town Hall. This
building - now known only as the Market House - was once at the centre of
communal and social life. As well as the council chamber (which still survives)
it also contained the town lock-up and housed the horse-drawn fire engine.
Apart from its Friday market the main hall was used for all sorts of meetings,
political speeches and social gatherings However, little in its history has
matched the drama of that day in June 1847 when the whole town seemed
threatened by a popular uprising.