After four years of waiting the much-anticipated Kresen Kernow archive centre for Cornwall was opened this morning.

A community open day was held to tie in with Redruth’s International Mining and Pasty Festival, to mark the grand opening of the centre built on the former Redruth Brewery site.

Protecting 850 years of Cornish history for future generations, Kresen Kernow brings together under one roof the world’s largest collection of records, books, maps and photographs related to Cornwall.


While the archive centre will not be fully open to visitors until Wednesday, today was a chance to get a first look at the facilities and some of the treasures on display.

A ribbon cutting ceremony with Colonel Edward Bolitho, the Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall, took place at 10am, accompanied by a fanfare composed by Gareth Churcher, who was made a Cornish Bard for being a "true ambassador for music".

This was followed by the first of two performances today of ‘Kresen Kernow: A Tribute to Cornwall’ – a new piece specially composed by Mr Churcher for the occasion and performed by St Keverne Brass Band, of which he is musical director.

Other performances during the course of the day featured Redruth School students singing pieces from their forthcoming production of Mary Poppins, songs and tales from the Story Republicans, original Cornish folk music from Black Eyed Nancy and songs from the Raise the ‘Ruth choir.

Behind-the-scenes tours and treasures talks also took place for visitors, with artefacts including a Bolase circa 1750 Cornish dictionary in the strongrooms and a manuscript from Elizabeth I.

Falmouth Packet:

The 18th century Cornish dictionary. Photo: Dave Goldburn

Cornwall Council leader Julian German said: “Kresen Kernow is a fantastic building, and a fitting home for Cornwall’s history, which our residents and visitors can enjoy and be proud of.

“When the decision was taken to build a new archive centre for Cornwall in Redruth, we were determined to protect the historic old brewery building at the heart of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site.

“It was one of the reasons the council was able to secure £11.7m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to go towards the £21m cost of the project, the largest grant made to a local authority archive service.

“Kresen Kernow represents a local sense of belonging, distinctiveness and identity. The new home for Cornwall’s archive will nurture our own sense of identity and our ability to reach out to the global diaspora.”

With its carefully restored façade, exhibition gallery, digitisation and preservation suites and 14 miles of shelving, Kresen Kernow is now home for 1.5 million of Cornwall’s historic manuscripts, records and papers covering 850 years of Cornwall’s distinct history. Safely housed there is everything from medieval manuscripts to books, newspapers, glass plate negatives, maps, diaries and letters.

Falmouth Packet:

The Redruth Brewery was destroyed by fire in 2011. The council won Heritage Lottery funding for the project in 2015, with the council proving just under £5 million also.

Last year it agreed to a further £4.45 million, from its Economic Development Match Fund reserve, after the project found itself behind schedule and over budget.

A package of investment including £1.7million from the European Regional Development Fund for public realm works and a flood alleviation scheme got the site ready for redevelopment.

Deborah Reeve, mayor of Redruth, said the project had provided a real boost for the town, adding: “There is an air of hope in the town around what is happening at this site.

“It has bought such a sense of positivity and achievement to everybody and we really see there is a change in what is happening in the town for the better.”