This film is part of Free

The Cornish Pyramids

The camera takes a dusty look into Cornwall's china clay industry.

Non-Fiction 1936 5 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for South West Film and Television Archive


Harry Waldon's film The Cornish Pyramids looks at the English China Clays PLC or ECC works near St Austell and shows the clay being extracted and the processes it goes through before being used to produce fine white porcelain to make a teacup or to be added to women's face powder. It is filmed at Goonvean and Rostowrack Clay Pits near St Dennis and is part of a collection from the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro.

Kaolin, better known as China Clay takes its name from the Chinese Kao-Ling, a village near Jingdezhen in Jiangxi province. William Cookworthy (1705-1780) a Plymouthian apothecary born in Kingsbridge used china clay and china stone from Cornwall to manufacture and achieve the hardened fine porcelain preferred by the Chinese. The French company Imetal bought the ECC in 1999 for an estimated seven and a half million pounds and started work at Higher Moor Pit in 2012 where four million tons of raw material is to be extracted for use.