Saturday, 6 August 2011

Celebrating Cornwall's Industrial Heritage

With parliament now in recess, August is a very good month to focus on meetings and work in Cornwall. I am holding a series of public meetings across the constituency this month starting with two this week at Ponsanooth and Mount Hawke and with others to follow every week. It is a great way to keep in touch with people’s concerns.

The parliamentary recess is also a good time to take forward other local initiatives. Last week I organised a mini conference to discuss how we can maximise the benefits from Cornwall’s World Heritage Site status. Almost sixty people packed into Murdoch House in Redruth to take part in the discussion.

Camborne, Redruth and Hayle together make up the heart of Cornwall’s industrial heritage with most of the key attractions and old engine houses based here. Although people are aware of Cornwall’s industrial landscape, very few realise that we are a World Heritage Site. This is partly because most World Heritage Sites are clearly defined single locations and having a large site covering the whole of Cornwall (and part of West Devon) creates challenges.

I think we should make more of our heritage. We might be able to build a stronger tourist offering to visitors, especially those returning from overseas to trace their ancestors. There are around 8 million people around the world who are part of the Cornish Diaspora, with ancestors who can be traced back to Cornwall. These Cornish emigrants took mining technology around the globe to places such as Australia, the United States, Mexico and South America. The growth of the internet has made it easier for people to trace their family history and there has been a surge of interest in such research.

Some good work is already underway in Cornwall. We had a detailed presentation from the World Heritage Site team at Cornwall Council who have helped develop the offering of a number of local mining attractions, created a new website and done a lot of research into public perceptions. The Heartlands project at Pool is almost complete and there is the hope that this will create a strong central attraction which will pull more people into the area and benefit the other attractions too. We also heard from the Trevithick Society of their imminent plans to display Trevithick’s Puffing Devil engine in the old Holmans showroom beside Camborne railway station which I think is a great idea.

But there is also more to do. We need to do more to improve and support our tourist attractions, we need better signage so that awareness is raised and we need to do more to market the extraordinary heritage we have. There was certainly no shortage of enthusiasm and passion at our meeting and I hope people will work together to create success.

George Eustice can be contacted on george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk or at 1 Trevenson Street, Camborne, Cornwall, TR14 8JD or by telephone on 020 72197032.