Thursday, 21 June 2012

Murdoch Day

Despite some of the dire warnings, the weather just about held up for Murdoch Day in Redruth last Saturday. It was blustery and threatening to rain for most of the day but it was only towards the very end of the day that the heavy showers finally came in.

As well as the excellent procession in the morning involving many local schools, there were other impressive dance acts and bands performing throughout the day. I was particularly impressed by the a cappella singing of “Raising the Ruth”, in the bandstand outside Murdoch House during the afternoon.

It was also an opportunity to catch up with the team at Murdoch House – the former home of William Murdoch, the inventor and engineer who was one of the pioneers of steam power development in Cornwall and also famously invented the first ever gas light using piped gas. It is great to have such an important heritage asset right in the middle of the town and I have used it as a venue for a couple of events over the last year.

Last Saturday, they had a fascinating exhibition of old photographs and newspaper cuttings on show. It was a reminder of how much this town and the surrounding area gave to the rest of the world. Redruth is not just the industrial heart of Cornwall, it is also the home town for a great many of the seven million people around the world whose ancestors left Cornwall in the late 19th century to build the new world. Around a quarter of all the people who left Cornwall during this period came from the Redruth area and they travelled as far afield as Cape Town, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia and Wisconsin in the Unites States. Press cuttings from that time underline the human and social cost of this mass migration across the world in search of work with many instances of families separated for the rest of their lives and with wives and young families often left behind.

Cornwall Council will shortly decide where to locate the new Cornwall Records Office. It is an exciting idea which creates the opportunity to build on the resources which already exist in the county and could become a really important attraction for foreign tourists keen to trace their roots. Redruth is already home to the Cornish Studies Library and the Cornwall Migration project which helps people trace their Cornish ancestry. As the centre of the world-wide Cornish Diaspora, Redruth has a very strong claim to be the home of the new archive and there are currently some detailed proposals to perhaps locate it on the site of the old brewery so that we can transform that end of town and start the process of renewal and regeneration.

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