Decoy Country Park in Newton Abbot is hoping to enjoy a trip back in time later this year as Teignbridge District Council encourages people to share in celebrating its fascinating heritage as a ball clay quarry.
Teignbridge District Council is bidding to the Heritage Lottery Fund to try and gain funding for a ‘Ball Clay’ heritage project, which would be run on site at the Country Park and Local Nature Reserve.
It would take place in October 2011, and the council is hoping to work with local schools and The Ball Clay Heritage Society to create a series of events themed around the heritage of the site, to include oral histories from those who worked there and a clay workshop.
To get the Ball Clay project rolling, Teignbridge will be running an informal afternoon drop-in session to gauge local community interest. It takes place at the Discovery Centre at Decoy, opposite the Rangers’ office, on Wednesday, February 16 at 2.30-4pm.
The council is welcoming anyone who’d like to share their story about the site or find out more about the idea. It is particularly focused at former quarry workers and any local people living in the area at the time. People can drop in during the afternoon
A Green Flag Award winning Country Park on the edge of Newton Abbot, today Decoy is home to a BMX dirt track, a fishing lake and woodland trail among other activities, but it wasn’t always this way.
From 1850 until 1965 the area was used for quarrying and mining, with ball clay taken from Decoy to nearby Newton Abbot Town Quay, where it was loaded onto barges and used in manufacturing around the country.
Ball clay, not to be confused with the more common China clay, is an essential component of most types of pottery – including toilet bowls and wash hand basins. Some of the world’s most important clay deposits were found in Devon, including the site at Decoy. When the quarrying ceased at Decoy, the pit filled up with water and the bare clay surrounding it slowly became vegetated, slowly transforming it into the Country Park and lake which is so popular today.