The discovery of China Clay by William Cookworthy in 1755 brought prosperity to St Austell. China Clay (Kao-Lin) is used in the manufacture of porcelain and by the paper industry as a filler. Today, while there is still some mining the China Clay industry has all but disappeared. However, out of this industrial heritage a first class tourist destination has emerged. The St Austell Bay area is now a vibrant tourist destination.
Visitors to the St Austell area enjoy its beautiful coastline and wide range of attractions.
Nature walks and cycle trails cross the spectacular disused mining landscape. The Clay Trails pass by Wheal Martyn China Clay Country Park and out to The Eden Project built at the bottom of a disused clay pit. The Lost Gardens of Heligan are nearby and St Austell Brewery Visitor Centre is located close to the town centre.
The town of St Austell has a range of small shops and cafes along the pedestrian main street which leads up to the historic Holy Trinity Church. Leading off Aylmer Square a new development includes a number of larger retail outlets and The Eden Café.