Monday, 20 May 2013

Let's celebrate Redruth's international connections


Last week we received the excellent news that Redruth has secured Heritage Lottery Funding to support the first phase of the new Cornwall Archive Centre at the old brewery site. Competition from the rest of country was fierce with projects totalling around £150 million chasing a pot of money of just £50 million but Redruth came out ahead being one of the most competitive bids submitted. Congratulations to all involved.

I have been arguing for the last eighteen months that Redruth was the natural home for this archive project. Initially there had been some discussion about locating it in St Austell but it was always clear that the regeneration benefits of locating the project in Redruth were far greater. Redruth is the most international of Cornish towns. Of the 8 million strong world-wide Cornish Diaspora, around a quarter can trace their roots back to Redruth. We exported mining expertise around the globe from Australia and South Africa to California, South America and Mexico.

The new archive centre will help us rekindle these international links. Last week I met some guests from Mexico who organise a "pasty festival". They had visited Cornwall to discuss links with heritage organisations and the Cornish Pasty Festival in Redruth. Having met them at Heartlands, I invited them back to visit parliament on Wednesday where they managed to see the Queen's state opening of parliament.

Last month I met Horace Yao, the Honk Kong based owner of the brewery site in Redruth who was bringing Chinese investors to see the potential for the Camborne and Redruth area. Mr Yao bought the brewery site some twenty years ago and ran the Cornish Rebellion beer brand for several years. Since then there have been a couple of schemes to try to find a future for the site. It is fair to say that, ten years ago, there were some misunderstandings between the council and the owners of the site. I think that was a great shame so have spent a lot of time over the last year trying to get everyone to work together for a solution and great progress has been made.

The most prestigious and sought after street in Hong Kong is actually called Cornwall Street. This got me thinking and, with the help of the Cornish Migration Project, we were able to research the links between Redruth and Honk Kong. While the numbers leaving for Hong Kong were smaller than, say, Australia, there were definitely important links. There were Cornish people who lived their lives out in Hong Kong. Some had connections with the navy and there were also well known Methodist preachers. This archive project will be a good way to celebrate all of Cornwall’s international links as well as reviving the fortunes of Redruth so we should get behind it.

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.