The curved territory along St. Austell Bay with its generous smattering of sandy beaches makes for a haven for family holidays and water sports. Cycling and walking are other popular activities in the area along its many trails and woodlands. The market town has the white peaks of the China Clay industry in its backdrop with St. Austell being the largest settlement in Cornwall that dates back to the 13th century.
This town is located close to a mile further inland from the coast. A walk along Fore Street will take you down to the historic core of St. Austell town where you can discover the beautiful Holy Trinity Parish Church. Opposite to it stands the Italianate façade of the Market House. The shopping centre at the heart of St. Austell has numerous shops, cafés, restaurants, and a cinema.
Located close by is Mevagissey, a popular fishing village and the beautiful Georgian village called Charlestown. The Heligan Gardens and world-famous Eden Project are among the local attractions of the town.
Though there is little of tourist interest on offer for the visitors of St. Austell, some may go to the extent of calling it grim, the town nevertheless provides an ideal centre for some of the loveliest of beaches in Cornwall County. This place is often termed as the Cornish Rivera.
Carlyon Bay is a busy resort in the area, extending to two miles in length and where three beaches merge to establish a beautiful setting. Porthpean and Duporth are other popular beaches close to this town. Polkerris is smaller and quieter, and makes for a nice place to go on a swim.
Close to the delightful cove one can find two former homes of famous local author Daphne du Maurier. While Menabilly is on Gribbin Head, Kilmarth stands closer to the Par-Fowey road. Readers and fans of Daphne’s works can relate the former to the Manderly of Rebecca while the latter is the original House on the Strand. Though both properties remain closed to the public, a number of coastal walks pass along the place and can be taken for enjoying a glimpse of these famous places.
The lovely Charlestown harbour is the popular port of St. Austell and is frequented by old sailing ships. It has served as a location for numerous television series and films. ‘Poldark’ is one famous name that immediately comes to mind. There is also a small museum in the area that is open only during the peak tourism season.
It was the discovery of China Clay in the area that really helped put St. Austell on the nation’s map. This is basically a form of decomposed granite that is technically known as kaolin. The mineral has its use in the production of porcelain apart from being popular in a number of other industries such as textiles, pharmaceuticals, and paper. It was from the eighteenth century that the growth of this town accelerated considerably on the back of China Clay extraction which became a mainstay of the local industry.
Sadly, the industry is now in decline due to the use of cheaper foreign sources. However, tourists can visit the Wheal Martyn China Clay Museum in order to get an interesting insight into how China Clay was produced. The place features interactive displays based on clay works dating back to the 19th century.
The St. Austell Brewery is another long-running industry in the town. It was established in the year 1851 by Walter Hicks and has grown into the biggest Cornwall brewery alongside a string of pubs. There are public tours conducted of the brewery that tourists can enjoy.
Probably the biggest draw of St. Austell town at present is the close proximity it shares to the mighty Eden Project with the site being no more than two miles away. Without doubt the Eden Project has become the single most popular tourist attraction in the Cornish territory. The interesting fact about this project is that most of the biomes have been constructed on an old China Clay pit.
A lot has been written about the righteous and environmental motives of the Eden Project. However, plenty of evidence can be given on the contrary along with the fact that its development has greatly increased the flow of traffic to the area.
St. Austell stands on the main bus and railway routes from London and is thus easily accessible from the capital city and other parts of the country.