The Society was formed in 2000. Its objects are:
Individual £5.00 per year
Junior (below age 18) £3.00 per year
Family (living at same address) £10.00 per year
Schools & Not-for-Profit Organisations £5.00 per year
Commercial Organisations £20.00 per year
The membership year starts on 1 May.
An annual general meeting of members is held in about March each year. At the meeting the members elect up to 15 members of the General Committee of the Society, including its Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer. The elected members may co-opt up to an additional 5 members of the General Committee. All General Committee members retire at Annual General meetings but are eligible for re-election or co-option.
The Society has a website www.clayheritage.org and publishes an occasional newsletter called the Journal. These contain information about developments in the Society’s activities, articles on subjects concerning the heritage of the ball clay industry and details of forthcoming Society events.
Members of the Society give talks on the ball clay industry and its heritage to interested groups.
Talks and outings on subjects and to places relevant to the Society’s objects are organised for Society members, mainly in the winter months. These provide an excellent opportunity for the members to socialise, whilst furthering knowledge about the ball clay industry’s heritage.
Since its formation the work of the Society has focused on different aspects of the ball clay industry’s heritage, including Historical Research, Cataloguing, Story Recording, Restoration and Reconstruction, Transport, Geology and Wildlife.
In 2003 the Society published an introduction to the ball clay industry in the form of an illustrated booklet entitled ‘The Ball Clays of Devon and Dorset’.
The Society has built up a small collection of artefacts and a large collection of archive material and photographs. The largest part of these collections has come from the two ball clay producing companies, WBB Minerals and Imerys Minerals. Both companies have undergone radical change in recent years involving the disposal of people and premises. The Society has the use for a limited period of WBB Minerals’ Abbrook Workshop in Kingsteignton for the storage of large artefacts. Since the end of 2001 the archive and photographic collections have been kept in the cellars of Dunderdale Lawn in Newton Abbot where General Committee and working group meetings are held.
The Society has been collaborating with Newton Abbot Town Council and the Devon County Council in a project to establish a new museum in Newton Abbot under the auspices of Newton Abbot Heritage Trust. This would house the Newton Abbot Town Museum and the Devon County Council’s Railway Studies Collection, as well as part of the Ball Clay Heritage Society’s collection. A suitable site is currently being sought. In the meantime, the Society has been using materials from its collection to mount displays at local museums and events.
The Society will also be collaborating with the newly formed Stover Canal Trust, of which the Society is a member, in the restoration of the Stover Canal and its associated buildings. The Canal was built in 1790-2 for the ball clay industry and was used for the transport of ball clays for almost 150 years. The Canal and its associated clay cellars comprise practically the only surviving historical structures of the South Devon ball clay industry.
Saving the ball clay industry’s heritage is a major undertaking. However the Society’s members are convinced that the historical importance of the industry, locally, nationally and internationally, and the many interesting aspects of the industry’s heritage – social, industrial, commercial and environmental – make the endeavour extremely worthwhile. But much needs to be done!
For more information about the Society, membership application forms, newsletter back issues, copies of ‘The Ball Clays of Devon & Dorset‘ etc., please contact John Pike (Chairman) or Bryn Evans (Secretary).