Eleven members of Crantock WI recently paid a visit to Kresen Kernow, the Cornish archive and library. The group was met by Tamsin Mallett, Kresen Kernow’s Collections and Development Manager.
Tamsin explained the background to the new building housing Cornish archive material, some dating back 800 years. The old Records Office located in Truro had reached its useful life and was not fit for purpose. A new site was sourced with funding from the Heritage Lottery (over £11m). Three sites were shortlisted, the old brewery in Redruth being the favoured option. Tamsin explained how it was sympathetically re-built – it had been derelict for many years – using original stonework, structural pillars and refurbished granite floors. Accessibility, sensory areas and education were all taken into account in the rebuild and it is truly a lovely facility. Even the strongroom, which is a modern concrete structure, has won an award! The old brewery chimney was restored and forms a real focal point in the administration office.
The group had a behind the scenes tour of the restoration and digitisation room and viewed some of the exhibition items in the strongroom. The strongroom is a purpose built, climate controlled area that has room for at least another 20 years worth of material. The archivists receive a constant source of material – some neatly boxed and listed – but they have also had their fair share of items in bin bags to delve into!
Tamsin’s favourite item is a witches spell to remove one’s enemies – it involved using an earthenware pot, some rusty nails and a bit of pee – the group wondered if it worked!
The members of Crantock WI all agreed it had been a very interesting and informative afternoon – some of them have plans to go back to find out more about family and local history.