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definition - St_Austell

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St Austell


Coordinates: 50°20′17″N 4°47′42″W / 50.338°N 4.795°W / 50.338; -4.795

St Austell
Cornish: Austol
High Cross Street, St Austell - geograph.org.uk - 1313370.jpg
High Cross Street
St Austell is located in Cornwall
St Austell

 St Austell shown within Cornwall
Population 22,658 (2001)
OS grid reference SX011524
Civil parish St Austell
Unitary authority Cornwall Council
Ceremonial county Cornwall
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town ST. AUSTELL
Postcode district PL25
Dialling code 01726
Police Devon and Cornwall
Fire Cornwall
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament St Austell and Newquay
List of places: UK • England • Cornwall

St Austell (play /sɨnt ˈɔːstəl/; Cornish: Austol) is a civil parish and a major town in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It is situated on the south coast approximately ten miles (16 km) south of Bodmin and 30 miles (48 km) west of the border with Devon at Saltash.[1] The town is known locally as "Snozzle" [2]

St Austell is the largest town in Cornwall: in the 2001 census, the population was 22,658 (larger than the county town, Truro, which had a population of 20,920). St Austell civil parish (see below) is entirely urban in character.[3]



  Holmbush mine engine house and chimney, St Austell parish

One of the earliest references to St Austell is in John Leland's Itinerary, where he says "At S. Austelles is nothing notable but the paroch chirch".[4]

Not long after William Cookworthy discovered china clay in Tregonning, the same mineral was found in greater quantity in the hills north of St Austell town.[5] Clay mining soon took over from tin and copper mining as the principal industry in the area, and this eventually contributed enormously to the growth of the town. The clay industry really only came into its own during the mid 19th to early 20th century, at a time when the falling prices of tin and other metals forced many mines to close down or convert to clay mining. The success and high profitability of the industry attracted many families whose breadwinner had been put out of work by the depression in the local metal mining industry, and increased the population of the town considerably. This meant that more shops and businesses took root, providing more jobs and improving trade. This, along with other factors, led to St Austell becoming one of the ten most important commercial centres of Cornwall.


Work began in 1963 on the pedestrian precinct which included shops, offices and flats: the design was by Alister MacDonald & Partners and the materials reinforced concrete with some stone facing.[6]

The town centre recently underwent a £75 million redevelopment process. The redevelopment attracted heavy opposition from its outset, with the main argument coming from Friends for a Better St Austell. In August 2007, developers David McLean and demolition team Gilpin moved onto the town centre site to complete the preparation, with the Filmcentre which was originally an Odeon cinema dating back to 1936, being demolished in late September/early October.

In October 2007, the South West of England Regional Development Agency (SWRDA) and project developers David McLean announced that the new development would be named 'White River Place'. It was also announced that 50% of shop units had been leased to high street stores,[7] with New Look, Peacocks, Bonmarché and Wilkinson opening new stores. This would mean New Look relocating from its current premises in Fore Street and the return of Peacocks to St Austell following the demolition of its old store to make way for the new development.

In October 2008 it was announced that the developer David McLean Developments had gone into administration and concern was expressed that this could jeopardise the completion of the project [8]

In December 2008, the new White River Cinema opened its doors for the first time: the cinema is technically advanced and the first purpose-built cinema in Cornwall for over 60 years.

In late October 2009, White River Place first opened its doors to the public. At the same time, a weekly local Produce Market started, located on Market Street between St Austell Market House and the Parish Church, which takes place every Saturday, between 10.00hrs and 15.00hrs.

The Torchlight Carnival took place on 21 November 2009 to huge acclaim, and is due to be repeated on 20 November 2010. Both these initiatives were spearheaded by the new Town Council, which was responding to public demand voiced through a survey conducted prior to the establishment of the Town Council. The Market House CIC was also involved and is the lead partner in establishing the Produce Market in St Austell.

The St Austell and Clay Country Eco-town is a plan for several new settlements around St Austell on old Imerys sites. It was given outline government approval in July 2009.[9]

On 6 July 2011, Cornwall Council's strategic planning committee voted to approve a £250 million beach resort scheme at Carlyon Bay, St Austell. The development was initially proposed in 2003.[10] [11]


  The four civil parishes in the St Austell area created in 2009

The arms of St Austell are Arg. a saltire raguly Gu.[12]


St Austell is in the new parliamentary constituency of St Austell and Newquay which was created by the Boundary Commission for England (increasing the number of seats in Cornwall from five to six).

  Local government

The main local authority is Cornwall Council, the unitary authority created as part of the 2009 structural changes to local government in England .[13] The six former Districts and the former Cornwall County Council were abolished and replaced by Cornwall Council on 1 April 2009.

Also on 1 April 2009, four new parishes were created for the St Austell area.[14] They are:

  • St Austell Town Council covering Bethel, Gover, Mount Charles, Poltair and Holmbush; represented by 20 councillors.
  • Carlyon Parish Council covering Carlyon Bay and Tregrehan; represented by 9 councillors.
  • St Austell Bay Parish Council covering Charlestown, Duporth, Porthpean and Trenarren; represented by 7 councillors.
  • Pentewan Valley Parish Council covering Tregorrick, Trewhiddle, London Apprentice and Pentewan; represented by 9 councillors.[15][16]


The china clay industry now employs only just over 2000 people, a mere fraction of the workforce in the early 20th century.[citation needed] However, the industry still achieves a higher annual output than ever before.[citation needed]

The town's economy is supported by its town centre shops and supporting businesses.

The St Austell Brewery, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2001, supplies cask ale to pubs in Cornwall and the rest of the UK. They are best known for their flagship beer, St Austell Tribute; a number of other ales are brewed but are rarely seen outside Cornwall. St Austell Brewery's original brewery 'The Seven Stars Inn' still stands today in the main town on East Hill.


  Panoramic view of the geodesic biome domes at the Eden Project

As in much of Cornwall and neighbouring counties, tourism is increasingly important to St Austell's economy. Tourists are drawn to the area by nearby beaches and attractions such as the Eden Project, sited in a former clay pit, and the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Summer visitors to the town make a big contribution to the local economy.[citation needed] The China Clay Country Park, in a former china-clay pit two miles north of the town, tells the story of the men, women and children who lived, worked and played in the shadow of the clay tips around St Austell.

St Austell is home to several public houses, numerous high street retailers, and several independent shops, many of which cater for tourists.

  Newspaper and radio

The town has two weekly newspapers, the St Austell Guardian and the St Austell Voice. The St Austell Guardian is part of the Cornish Guardian series published by Cornwall and Devon Media Ltd. The newspaper has a long history in the town. The St Austell Voice, sister paper to the Newquay Voice has offices at Truro Road, close to the town centre. Both papers publish on Wednesdays.

St Austell is also home to Radio St Austell Bay, a local radio station which broadcasts from studios at Tregorrick Park, St Austell. Radio St Austell Bay launched in January 2008 to a potential audience of approximately 30,000 in the St Austell area from Trewoon in the west to Tywardreath in the east.


Most of the shops on the old high street near the centre occupy original buildings either in renovated or modified form.[citation needed] Notable Cornish architect Silvanus Trevail designed many of St Austell's buildings and houses, including the Thin End and the Moorland Road terrace (originally known as Work House Lane, said work house having since been razed to the ground by arsonists).[citation needed] Of other notable architects from St Austell, John Goode contributed considerably during the 1970s to residential developments in the area.

  Holy Trinity Church, St Austell

Pevsner remarks in his guide to Cornwall that the following buildings are notable:[6]

  • The Parish Church (see Church history above)
  • The Town Hall, in Italian Renaissance style, 1844
  • Friends Meeting House, 1829, a plain granite structure
  • White Hart Hotel: once contained panoramic wallpaper of the Bay of Naples by Dufour (now in the Victoria and Albert Museum)
  • Holy Well at Menacuddle.
  • Three buildings of the 1960s: Penrice School, 1960; Public Library, 1961; Magistrates' Court, 1966.

The Masonic Hall in South Street had its cornerstones laid on 20 June 1900. It is an outstanding building, with the apex crowned with a pentagonal star and various Masonic symbols around the front, as well as the coat of arms of the United Grand Lodge of England.[17]


  St Austell railway station

St Austell railway station was opened by the Cornwall Railway on 4 May 1859 on the hillside above the town centre. Two branch lines west of the town were later opened to serve the china clay industry; the Newquay and Cornwall Junction Railway which is still partly open, and the short-lived Trenance Valley line.[18] The independent narrow gauge Pentewan Railway ran from West Hill to the coast at Pentewan. The Cornish Main Line in St Austell is quite renowned for its viaduct which passes through the Gover Valley and Trenance areas of the town. the original timber structure was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, it was 115 feet (35 m) high, 720 feet (220 m) long on 10 piers; it was replaced by a new stone viaduct in 1899.[19][20] There was a siding located west of the viaduct. In the early years trains from St Austell had to push wagons over the tall, curving viaduct to shunt this siding. The Great Western Railway's instructions stated that: "Trucks may be pushed from St Austell to the Siding, but when this is done the speed of the Train between the two places must not exceed 8 miles an hour, and the head Guard must ride on the leading vehicle, unless it be a bonnet end one, in which case he must ride in the first low sided vehicle from it, to keep a good look out, and be prepared to give a signal to the Driver either by Day or Night, as may be required". Train services today operate west to Truro and Penzance, and east to Plymouth and London. There are also three services on most days to the North of England and Scotland.[21]

The town's bus station faces the entrance to the railway station to offer an easy interchange between buses and trains. National Express coach services call here, a dedicated link operates to the Eden Project, and local buses operate to villages such as Fowey and Mevagissey. The town can be accessed by the A390 which by-passes the town to the south on its way from Liskeard to Truro, or by the A391 from Bodmin, or by the A3058 from Newquay. In addition there are the B3273 to Mevagissey, the B3274 to Padstow and the A3082 to Fowey.


St Austell has two comprehensive schools, Poltair School, formerly the grammar school, and Penrice Community College. Brannel School is in the St Austell area but not in the town itself.

Cornwall College St Austell is a Further & Higher Education institution incorporating the former St Austell Sixth Form Centre and Mid Cornwall College of Further Education. The College is based at John Keay House, which is also home to the college group's headquarters.

St Austell has seven primary schools: Charlestown County Primary School, Bishop Bronescombe School, Carclaze Community Primary School, Mount Charles School, Pondhu Primary School, St Mewan Primary School, and Sandy Hill Community Primary School.

  Health services

St Austell has its own hospital, St Austell Community Hospital, formerly called Penrice Hospital. The hospital provides a number of inpatient beds and services as well as a range of outpatient clinics. Maternity services are also provided on site at the Penrice Birthing Unit. The hospital provides some urgent treatment at its minor injury unit, with the Royal Cornwall Hospital at Treliske, Truro handling more serious cases.

  Religious sites

The church was originally dedicated to St Austol, a Breton saint associated with St Meven, but is now dedicated to the Holy Trinity. By 1150 it had been appropriated to the Priory of Tywardreath by the Cardinhams: this continued until 1535. There was originally a Norman church here, of which some remains may be seen. The present church is of the 15th century and is large because the mediaeval parish was also a large one: the tower is impressive. All four outside walls bear sculptural groups in carved niches: the Twelve Apostles in three groups on the north, east and south; the Holy Trinity above the Annunciation and below that the Risen Christ between two saints on the west. The tower can be dated to between 1478 and 1487 by the arms of Bishop Courtenay, and the walls are faced in Pentewan stone.[22]

On the south side of the church, a formerly separate chantry has been incorporated into the church when it was extended. (The chantry itself was abolished in 1543.) There are holy wells at Menacuddle and Towan.[23] In the 19th century the following parishes were created out of St Austell parish: St Blazey (1845); Charlestown (1846), Treverbyn (1847), and Par (1846 out of St Blazey and Tywardreath).

A new rural deanery of St Austell was established within the Diocese of Truro in 1875.


There was formerly a Quaker burial ground at Tregongeeves, just outside the town on the Truro Road. It was covered by about 6 feet of earth removed from the building of the new road in the 1960s. A high stone wall bounds the remaining acre of land; access can be gained through a wrought iron gate. About 40 of the headstones from Tregongeeves were removed and are now located at the Friends meeting house in the High Street in St Austell, just below the high wall which surrounds St Austell railway station. That meeing house is still in use.


St Austell has a very large Masonic presence. The Masonic Hall in South Street is home to four Craft Lodges: Peace & Harmony Lodge No. 496 which was formed on 23 March 1844, and its three daughter Lodges established over the years: Tewington Lodge No. 5698, consecrated in March 1938; Carlyon Lodge No. 7392, consecrated in November 1955 and St Denys Lodge No. 8250, which was consecrated in January 1969.[24]

Other Masonic bodies meeting in St Austell are: Mount Edgcumbe Royal Arch Chapter No. 496, formed in 1874; Tewington Royal Arch Chapter No. 5698, formed on 11 November 1987; St Austell Mark Master Masons Lodge No. 275, consecrated on 22 February 1881; St Austell Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners No. 275, formed on 22 September 1962 and the St Austell Rose Croix Chapter No. 744, consecrated on 16 October 1973.[25]


Speedway racing first took place a venue called Rocky Park, under the name "St Austell Gulls". The sport was a hit during various years, between 1949 and 1963 at the Cornish Stadium – now Stadium Retail Park, home of Cornish Market World. The sport returned to the area in the late 1990s, in the Clay Country Moto Parc, located at Old Pound, Nanpean. The club operated as the St Austell Gulls for four years, until the club changed ownership, and moved up a league to the Speedway Premier League, re-formed as the Trelawny JAG Tigers, until site owners Imerys Minerals Ltd ended the lease. Speedway has not been held in Cornwall since. Many attempts have been made to re-introduce the sport, but none have got past planning permission. The two highest profile bids were at Par Moor Motor Museum and St Eval Raceway. The owner of the land for the Par Moor bid confirmed that he would rent the land for speedway but locals objected. The St Eval bid failed after residents expressed fears about noise.

Stock car racing, promoted by 1950s Kiwi Speedway star Trevor Redmond, ran side by side with speedway on numerous occasions. Numerous championships were run here, including the 1972 BriSCA World Championship for Formula 2 cars, won by Jimmy Murray from N.Ireland. It closed its doors in 1987.

St Austell Football Club was formed on 17 September 1890. In 1908 the club won its first trophy: the Cornwall Charity Cup. The club achieved some success in the late 1920s and 1930s, winning the Senior Cup and Charity Cup twice. In May 2009, the team won the Senior Cup with a closely fought 3–2 victory over Saltash United.[26]

Wheal Eliza cricket ground is the home of St Austell Cricket Club, and is also used for Minor Counties matches.

  See also

  St Austell Brewery


  1. ^ Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 200 Newquay & Bodmin ISBN 978-0-319-22938-5
  2. ^ http://www.investorschronicle.co.uk/Columnists/default/article/20060915/67b9ce68-e922-11db-9f1b-00144f2af8e8/The-snozzle-effect.jsp
  3. ^ [1] Cornall Council mapping service; Parishes overlay. Retrieved June 2010
  4. ^ Leland, John (1964). "Part III". In Lucy Toulmin Smith. Leland's Itinerary in England and Wales. I. London: Centaur Press. pp. 202. 
  5. ^ Smith, John R. (1992). "Cookworthy and the Early Years". Cornwall's China-Clay Heritage. Twelveheads: Twelveheads Press/Cornwall Archaeological Unit. pp. 3. ISBN 0-906294-25-8. 
  6. ^ a b Pevsner, N. (1970) Cornwall; 2nd ed. Penguin Books; pp. 156–158
  7. ^ Cornish Guardian, 3/10/2007
  8. ^ Cornish Guardian, 27/10/2008
  9. ^ "Eco-town home page". Cornwall Council. http://www.cornwall.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=23347. Retrieved 7 November 2010. 
  10. ^ This is Cornwall
  11. ^ BBC News
  12. ^ Pascoe, W. H. (1979). A Cornish Armory. Padstow, Cornwall: Lodenek Press. p. 134. ISBN 0-902899-76-7. 
  13. ^ "Cornwall (Structural Change) Order 2008". Office of Public Sector Information. 2008-02-25. http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2008/uksi_20080491_en_1. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  14. ^ "Town and parishes to get councils". BBC News website (BBC). 5 December 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/cornwall/7766589.stm. Retrieved 2008-12-06. 
  15. ^ [2] Cornwall Council website (1); Accessed May 2010
  16. ^ [3] Cornwall Council website (2); Accessed May 2010
  17. ^ "Cryer, Revd N.B.,Masonic Halls of England: The South Shepperton: 1989, pp 107–114"
  18. ^ Bennett, Alan (1988). The Great Western Railway in Mid Cornwall. Southampton: Kingfisher Railway Publications. ISBN 0-946184-53-4. 
  19. ^ Binding, John (1993). Brunel's Cornish Viaducts. Penryn: Atlantic Transport Publishing/Historical Model Railway Society. ISBN 0-906899-56-7. 
  20. ^ St Austell viaduct on Wikimap
  21. ^ "National Rail Timetable 135 (Winter 2008)" (PDF). Network Rail. http://www.networkrail.co.uk/browse%20documents/eNRT/MDec08/timetables/Table135.pdf. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  22. ^ Pevsner, N. (1970) Cornwall; 2nd ed. Penguin Books
  23. ^ Cornish Church Guide (1925) Truro: Blackford; p. 57
  24. ^ Williams, Richard Douglas, ed. (October 2001). Thread of Gold: Celebrating the Unbroken History of 250 Years of Freemasonry in the Province of Cornwall. Truro: Cornwall Province of Freemasons. pp. 372. ISBN 978-0-9540850-0-1. 
  25. ^ Cornwall Masonic Yearbook 2007/2008
  26. ^ "Club history". St Austell AFC. http://staustellafc.wetpaint.com/page/Club+History. Retrieved 2009-06-24. 

  Further reading

  • Hammond, Joseph (1897) St Austell: being an account of St Austell, town, church, district and people. London: Skeffington & Son
  • Rowse, A. L. (1960) St Austell: Church, Town, Parish. St Austell: H. E. Warne

  External links



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