PLANS to build the world’s biggest archive centre for Cornish history in Redruth took a huge step forward this week as the land was officially signed over to Cornwall Council.
The Hong Kong owner of the old Redruth Brewery site handed over ownership of half of the land on Tuesday following months of complicated discussions, meaning plans for the £15 million Kresen Kernow – Cornish Archive – can go ahead.
The news follows a bidding triumph last year when Redruth was chosen ahead of other Cornish towns as the preferred site for the project – and the financial support pledged from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) earlier this year.
Redruth mayor, Judy Davidson, welcomed the announcement saying: “I am very encouraged that we have secured the land deal which brings the building of the Kresen Kernow centre another step closer.”
Julian German, Cornwall Council’s Cabinet Member for economy and culture, said: “With Cornwall Council investment in both the Kresen Kernow centre and the flood alleviation scheme for the site, this project is a fantastic opportunity to transform this neglected area into a destination that has the potential to attract 12,000 visitors a year to Redruth.”
The new archive centre will bring together the collections of Cornwall Record Office, the Cornish Studies Library and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Historic Environment Record.
It will be the largest body of material for the study of Cornish archaeology, landscape, history, culture and identity in the world.
The new centre at the former Redruth Brewery site on Chapel Street will conserve historic brewery buildings and include new exhibition spaces, a learning studio for schools and community groups and preservation and digitisation facilities.
In May, the Kresen Kernow project received initial support for a £9.8m HLF bid, including £386,800 development funding.
The initial funding will be used to develop the project over the next 18 months with the aim of securing a second round of funding from HLF at the end of 2014.
Cornwall Council has committed £5m to the scheme, which will include rare printed books, photographs, maps, plans and archaeological records.
Horace Yao, representing the current landowner, Hong Kong Investors, said: “The funding provided by Hong Kong Investors demonstrates a real commitment to invest in the future.”
“Our aim is to revive the historic brewery brands back into the site with a microbrewery and to provide residential development as a showcase for green development.
“Working hand-in-hand with Cornwall Council provides an opportunity to provide for the next generation and to promote Redruth as an international destination.”