William Cookworthy's discovery that china clay (kaolin) provided the missing ingredient for which English potters had been searching for years to produce hard paste porcelain, led to a transfer of attention amongst leading potters to produce such bodies. For centuries the secret of manufacturing hard paste porcelain had been known only to the Chinese. A fall in demand for ball clay followed and the industry suffered a temporary setback. Nevertheless by 1838 shipments through Teignmouth were rising again and had reached 19,090 tons.
A favourable climate evidently existed in the industry in the mid-19th century for in 1843 the Hackney Canal, extending from Newton Road, Kingsteignton, to the Teign Estuary, was open to transport clay from Lord Clifford's lands. The industry was now a major employer in the district employing some 200 hands.
Kingsteignton was not the only place to benefit from the clay trade. One of the main points used to support Teignmouth's claims for status as an independent port in 1852 was the growth of the clay cargoes. For years Teignmouth had been classified as a creek under the port of Exeter, which had received much of the dues on clay shipments.