Work Horse to War Horse   Clay Country Remembers the Great War

Work Horse to War Horse Clay Country Remembers the Great War
Wheal Martyn

By: Gemma Martin
Added: 29 January 2015

A new exhibition, ‘Work Horse to War Horse – Clay Country Remembers the Great War’ has opened at Wheal Martyn. Commemorating the vital role played by horses in the First World War the exhibition looks at the impact the War had on the china clay industry, an industry then still very reliant on the use of horses.

Three quarters of the horses working in the industry went to France, with very few returning to Cornwall. The exhibition looks at the roles horses played in the War, their requisitioning by the Army Remount Department and their transport, training and care, both on and behind the Front Lines.

Key to the exhibition is the focus on William Gould, the grandfather of one of Wheal Martyn’s volunteers Malcolm Gould, and his horse Punch. At the outbreak of war both were employed in the china clay industry. Along with many other clay workers William, known as Bill, enlisted to fight in the First World War and, together with his horse Punch, joined the Royal Field Artillery, serving with the 28th Division. Together they fought, Bill driving two horses in a troop of six pulling an 18 pounder field gun and limber. Miraculously both Bill and Punch survived the war. Three-quarters of the horses employed in the clay industry were requisitioned for the war effort and Punch was one of the very few to return.

The exhibition will continue until 25 June. Why not make a day of it and explore the Museum, interactive displays and 26 acres of woodland and nature trails. There is the opportunity to see monstrous machinery at work with a spectacular view of a modern working clay pit and if you are lucky you may even get to see them blasting in the pit!

Parking and entrance to the exhibition, café and gift shop is free and dogs are welcome throughout the site.

For more information call 01726 850362 or email

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