After the decline in the fortunes of tin mining in the late nineteenth century, there was a huge exodus to the new world with Cornish tin miners founding the industry in Australia, California, South Africa, South America and Mexico. As a result, today there are some six to eight million people making up a worldwide Cornish diaspora and the vast majority of them can trace their family roots back to Redruth.
Last week, I visited the Kresen Kernow Cornish Archive. It has undergone quite a transformation since my last visit. Huge progress has been made. The roof is now being put on, and it was great to see the purpose built rooms that will house thousands of manuscripts, maps and photographs as well as other documents relating to Cornwall.
Redruth beat competition from other towns to win designation by Cornwall Council as the preferred site for the project and saw off fierce competition from dozens of other bids nationally to successfully land funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
I argued Redruth was the natural home for this archive project. Redruth is the most international of Cornish towns. Redruth Town Council has shown tremendous enthusiasm for the new archive project and credit should also go to both existing and former local councillors for their support.
I have met Horace Yao, the Honk Kong based owner of the brewery site in Redruth, on many occasions now to try to help progress plans. Mr Yao bought the brewery site some twenty years ago and ran the famous Cornish Rebellion and Newquay Steam beer brands for several years. Since then there have been a couple of schemes to try to find a future for the site which didn't work out in the end and he has shown tremendous patience in being prepared to go through another process which has succeeded. The most sought after residential address in Hong Kong is actually along Cornwall Street which shows how far our international connections spread and it is fitting that there should be a Hong Kong connection in creating the most sought after venue in Cornwall.
It is this history that makes Redruth the ideal place to host the new Kresen Kernow archive project and that is why I have supported this initiative from the start.