It’s difficult to pin St Blazey down. At different times, on different documents, it is associated with the neighbouring village of Par (they share a train station), the villages of Fowey and Lostwithiel (in the key strategy document for Cornwall Housing and in a shared history of tin mining) and with the parishes of St Enoder, St Dennis, Roche, Luxulyan, Lanlivery, Lostwithiel, St Stephen-in-Brannel, St Mewan, Treverbyn, and Tywardreath under the umbrella term ‘Clay Country’. Officially the parish of St Blaise split from that of St Austell in 1834 and from the village of Par in the mid 19th Century – although physical, social and administrative links suggest that a strong connection still exists, albeit with a tinge of rivalry.
Geographically, St Blazey is located 3 miles (4.8km) east of St Austell, 1 mile (1.6km) west of Tywardreath and 1 mile (1.6km) north of Par.
The village has a population of 6632 according to the 2001 census and it’s believed that the population is growing. Of this, a significant proportion are aged 60 or over. There are very few people who identify themselves as an ethnic minority living in the village (0.9%).
Until the 19th Century the history of St Blazey is generally quiet and undistinguished – similar to that of innumerous villages in England. It is named after an Armenian saint (the patron saint of wool). An iron age fort was constructed in the area at Prideaux Castle. The parish church was built between 1440 and 1445. In the 19th Century tin mining began in the area and St Blazey entered the industrial phase of its history that was to shape the village for the next hundred years.
Old tin and copper mines are found in almost every direction from St Blazey. North of town was ‘The Par and St Blazey Consols’ or ‘South Prideaux Wood’, Par Consols Mine lies to the south west of town while Fowey Consols mine is east of the town near Tywardreath. The mines at Fowey Consols, originally called Wheal Treasure, Wheal Fortune and Wheal Chance, began working in 1813 and stopped in 1819. The mines were then sold and began working again (now known as Fowey Consols mine) in 1822.
The success of the mines was, to some extent, a result of the geographical situation of St Blazey and Par and the transport links that this facilitated. Until 16th century St Blazey was the lowest crossing point on the river. However, the tin mining up river caused the estuary to silt up and become marsh land by the early 19th century. Around this time, between 1829 and 1835, Par Canal was built which connected the mines to Par Harbour which lies in the parish of St Blazey.
In 1858 15,154 tons of china clay were shipped out of Par. By 1885 86,325 tons were shipped out of the harbour but by now there was also a railway line that was handling 114,403 tons of clay. Eventually the use of Par Canal to transport goods from the mines to Par Harbour was replaced by the Cornwall Minerals Railway which was based at St Blazey and ran as an independent company from 1874 to 1896 before becoming part of the Great Western Railway. St Blazey station closed in 1925 although the rail depot is still in use today.
More recently china clay has been the primary commodity to be mined in the area and by 2002 Par Harbour had 284 vessels per year loaded with 318,455 metric tons of china clay and 107 vessels loaded with 136,970 metric tons of secondary aggregates for the building trade. However, in 2007 there was a major reduction in china clay operations including closing Par to commercial shipping.
The Eden Project is about a mile and a half (2km) from the center of town. Tourism has been developed in St Blazey as a result.