Work horse to war horse exhibition opens at Wheal Martyn

February 23rd, 2015

Set in 26 acres of woodland, walking trails, and the grounds of two former working china clay pits, Wheal Martyn is the UK’s only china clay museum and country park. Only forty minutes by car from The Valley’s dog friendly cottages Cornwall, Wheal Martyn is a great day out to enjoy with your four legged holiday companion as dogs are welcome throughout the site.

A new exhibition, ‘Work Horse to War Horse – Clay Country Remembers the Great War’ has now opened at Wheal Martyn and will run until 25th June. 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.