TitleExtraordinary earths: the story of ball clay, china clay, soapstone and china stone from Cornwall, Devon and Dorset, 1700 to 1914.
Authors/editorsPerry R., Thurlow C.
PublisherSt. Austell, UK: Cornish Hillside Publications
Date2010
Pages320
ISBN978 1 900147 491
Price
ReviewIntroduction

South-west England was not only the source of tin and copper in the 18th and 19th centuries, along with many of the engineering developments that powered the industrial revolution, but was also a huge contributor of the industrial clays that fed the technical evolution of sectors such as ceramics, cotton manufacture and paper-making. A history concerned as much with demand as with the supply of the various clays, investigating innovations not only in extraction and refining processes but also in products, is therefore to be welcomed by anyone with an interest in the origins of Britain�s material processing and manufacturing industries.

Content

Having first examined the various clay types with their deposits and extraction, the book outlines the way in which clay became involved in the technical evolution of ceramics, cotton manufacture, paper-making and many other industries. The authors identify a dramatic change in the technical role of the clay merchants as they acquired knowledge ranging from the production of ultramarine and alum to the manufacture of linoleum and miners’ safety fuse. Also discussed are the improvements in marketing and distribution that made possible the huge expansion in sales, as well as a number of under-researched issues of financing, ownership, social contributions, health and safety, industrial disputes and misleading interpretations of the industry by contemporary writers. Each chapter has a substantial reference list and there is a detailed index to names and subjects.

Reviewed byFrances Perry a BA BA Dip. Lib