Some of the world’s most significant deposits of china clay are located in Devon and Cornwall and they are known as primary deposits, because the clay is found at the site where it was formed.
When china clay, or kaolin, was discovered in England, it was realised that it was of a much finer quality than found elsewhere in Europe. William Cookworthy from Kingsbridge in Devon made the discovery in Cornwall in 1746. He experimented with various samples and in 1768 he took out a patent to use the material, soon producing items at his Plymouth Porcelain Factory. The China House, Country Pub and Restaurant at Sutton Wharf, is thought to be the site of this original factory. A collection of Cookworthy’s ceramics resides at Plymouth City Museum.