A few years ago I received an unexpected email addressed to a George Eustice which proceeded to talk as someone who thought they were my daughter and asked about the rest of the family home in South Africa. I should make clear that I do not have a secret daughter and so, in my reply, pointed out that there had obviously been some mistake in the email address but added for good measure that most Eustices (spelt with an ‘i’) originated from Cornwall so we might well be related. “Yes” was the reply, “my grandfather always talked about Redruth.”
I have always argued that we could make more of our amazing history and industrial heritage in this part of Cornwall to promote ourselves around the world. It is estimated that the world wide Cornish diaspora could number as many as seven million people. In the late 19th century, tens of thousands of Cornishmen left their homes to build the new world and today they can be found as far afield as South Africa, Australia, the US and Mexico.
No Cornish town contributed more to the building of the new world than Redruth. Research by the Cornish Migration Project suggests that a quarter of all the Cornishmen to leave came from the Redruth area which, at the time, was the global financial centre for metals trading and was pioneering the mining technologies that would be used throughout the world.
There are currently proposals to establish a new Cornish Archive which would be a centre for many ancient manuscripts and old photographs and a history resource for the whole county. Redruth is the obvious place to locate such a facility. Firstly, the town is already a trail blazer for Cornish culture and history. The Cornish Studies Library based in the town is a fantastic resource for those studying all things Cornish with an amazing library of photographs. Secondly, the town is also home to Murdoch House and the Cornish Migration Project which helps thousands of people trace their roots back to Cornwall. Thirdly, the town is developing a lead within Cornwall for culture and the creative industries. Krowji, Cornwall’s largest creative cluster goes from strength to strength and just outside Redruth, work to develop a huge audio-visual resource of old Cornish photographs made available online is being pioneered by local firm Azook.
I have been impressed by the way the whole town has pulled together to try to bring this project into the area. Redruth has an abundance of potential sites for the new Cornish Archive but I hope it might be possible to use the project as a way of kick starting the wider regeneration of the town by locating it on the old brewery site to get that part of Redruth moving again.
George Eustice can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or at 1 Trevenson Street, Camborne, Cornwall, TR14 8JD or by telephone on 020 72197032.