South Western Federation of Museums and Art Galleries

Cornwall’s new state-of-the-art archive centre opens

Kresen Kernow, the brand new £21million archive centre for Cornwall, has now opened. Built on the former Brewery site in Redruth, the new centre brings together under one roof the world’s largest collection of records, books, maps and photographs related to Cornwall. With 1.5million documents charting 850 years, Kresen Kernow holds a wealth of stories of Cornish heritage and identity, and protects Cornish history for future generation.

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 a worthy home for 1.5 million of Cornwall’s historic manuscripts, records and papers covering 850 years of Cornwall’s distinct history. As well as bringing multiple archives safely under one roof, the project enabled the purchase of much better, and faster equipment. For the first time, the archive can properly share the history within its walls online.

The Redruth Brewery site had been an eyesore since a devastating fire destroyed many of its historic buildings in 2011. 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. Architects have tried to incorporate much of the original structure in the new building and have been able to be faithful to the original structure, incorporating elements such as the authentic pillars and granite floors.

Bob Egerton, Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for planning and economy said: “The opening of Kresen Kernow will have a ripple effect, transforming an area of Cornwall that was seen to be run down and unloved, to a place that inspires the community to get involved and be proud. “

“Kresen Kernow is a fitting new home for the stories of Cornwall and will help to reinforce Redruth’s reputation as a centre for creative industries. It will attract more people to come to Redruth which will in turn act as a catalyst for further development and investment.”

Cllr Deborah Reeve, Mayor of Redruth, said the project had provided a real boost for the town. She said: “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.”

Kresen Kernow has also launched a brand new website to open up Cornwall’s incredible archive collections to an even wider audience so that digitised items – including books and thousands of photographs – can be accessed online. Kresen Kernow, which will be open for free access for one and all, also has dedicated learning rooms, exhibition space capable of hosting loaned documents from other archives, as well as, strongrooms to ensure that Cornwall’s heritage continues to be well cared for into the future.

For further information, please visit the Kresen Kernow website here.