The transplanting of a hundred year old Mulberry Tree in Cornwall’s mining heartland next week will herald the start of a £3.7 million pound re-development project at the Krowji creative hub.
The arm of a big digger will push through the wall of a derelict 1970’s staff room to rescue the Mulberry from its overgrown courtyard and move it to a safe new plot – allowing demolition works to begin ahead of the construction of two state-of-the-art buildings which will double Krowji’s capacity to 200 people.
The major works on the site of Redruth’s old Grammar School will see the handsome 1907 building preserved while the dilapidated post-war canteen and gym will be replaced within a year by new work-space.
The new eco friendly buildings designed to the needs of their creatively-minded tenants – will be linked by a glass bridge, leaving a “keyhole” view to the sea from a new courtyard garden – the pathway between the old buildings and the new.
Krowji (meaning “workshop” in a rough translation from Cornish) is currently the working home of more than 100 artists and actors, designers and journalists, musicians and jewellers all rubbing shoulders and exchanging ideas in the Melting Pot Café – one Cornwall’s quirkiest watering holes from its plastic-spoon chandeliers to its collage-covered tables.
Current tenants like MyCornwall magazine are eagerly anticipating a move across to their customised new space.
“We’ve been here at Krowji for the last three years and I wouldn’t be anywhere else,” says editor Mark Pugh.
“It’s an amazing place for getting inspiration, bouncing ideas and finding stories and soon we’ll have all that and a lovely view too!”
Others who have found a permanent home in the Krowji family include Miracle Theatre, Creative Skills, FEAST, Carn to Cove and the Cornwall Film Festival.
The expansion project was devised by a Krowji team led by founder Ross Williams, working with project managers Vickery Holman, to produce a business plan for expansion.
This won £3.7 million of funding – both privately sourced and from the European Regional Development Fund Convergence Programme.
“We’ve been working on this project for so long it hardly seems possible that our dreams for Krowji are about to become reality,” says Ross.
“The vibrant atmosphere that’s evolved here over the last ten years is extremely precious and any change has to enhance that. We’ve been very patient in devising a truly sustainable scheme where the new will perfectly complement the old. To see it actually happening at last is a very proud moment for us all.”