Kresen Kernow

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Colour photo showing Kresen Kernow building with trees and statues outside
Kresen Kernow, Cornwall's archive centre

Kresen Kernow (Cornish for Cornwall Centre) in Redruth, England is Cornwall's archive centre, home to the world's biggest collection of archive and library material related to Cornwall. Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Cornwall Council and opened in 2019, it brings together the collections which were previously held at Cornwall Record Office, the Cornish Studies Library and Cornwall and Scilly Historic Environment Record as well as in various outstores.[1]

Kresen Kernow was the name of the building in Alma Place in which the Cornish Studies Library was formerly held. The new archive centre, which has been constructed on the former Redruth Brewery site in Tolgus Hill, Redruth, has the same name. Kresen Kernow has more than 14 miles of shelving in total which will house around 1.5 million items, including over 100,000 books, 40,000 maps and 220,000 photographs and postcards.[2] The project is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Cornwall Council.


Kresen Kernow is home to 14 miles of shelving in two secure strongrooms, purpose-built to care for over 1.5 million documents covering 850 years of history, including books, maps, newspapers, manuscripts and photographs. The centre also features digitisation and preservation suites to facilitate caring for the documents, along with learning rooms, exhibition spaces and reading rooms. The public spaces in the building are built in the former brewhouse of Redruth Brewery.


The concept of a National Archive and Heritage Centre was born in Redruth in the early 2000s. This resulted in the creation of the Cornish Studies Library in the town. The old brewery at Redruth was chosen for the location of Kresen Kernow, Cornwall's new archive centre, out of a shortlist of three sites.[3]

Various proposals were put forward for improving the facilities for Cornwall's archive and library collections, which were stored in different locations across Cornwall and beyond. Calls for a Cornish National Library, National Library of Cornwall, or Cornish National Archive were made.[4]

A Cornish archive and library facility also forms part of Cornwall council's Heritage Strategy for 2011-14.[5]

The Cross Group Working Party Review of Cornwall Libraries in March 2011 stated its aim to repatriate many culturally important manuscripts to Cornwall, for instance, medieval Cornish language plays like Bewnans Ke currently held by the National Library of Wales, or the Ordinalia held by the Bodleian Library. The possibility of getting the Prophecy of Merlin from the Vatican Archives has also been mooted.[6] It is agreed that the library of Joseph Hambley Rowe, currently held by Redruth Library, will go to a National Library of Cornwall when one is set up.[7] Towns were asked to submit proposals to house the new archive centre with the former Devenish Brewery site in Redruth being chosen in 2012.

It was proposed by Cornwall Council's Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee that a new building costing between £8-12 million is constructed. The new facility was named as one of ten cultural projects adopted by Cornwall Council's cabinet, others include a National Theatre of Cornwall, and an expansion to the Tate St Ives art gallery.[8]

In 2013 the National Lottery Heritage Fund awarded Cornwall Council a grant to begin developing the project and to carry out consultation.[9][10] The following year, groundworks were carried out on site, funded by the European Regional Development Fund, to ensure it was suitable for construction work to begin.[11] In spring 2015 Cornwall Council submitted a bid for £11.7 million to the National Lottery Heritage Fund to build the archive centre, designed by architects Purcell, and for an accompanying programme of events and activities.[12] The award was granted in summer 2015, the largest ever to be given to an archive project.[13] Midas Construction started on site in autumn 2016 and finished building Kresen Kernow in 2019.[14]

Cornwall Record Office[edit]

Cornwall Record Office logo, composed of individual letters from original manuscripts and printed texts held there

Cornwall Record Office (CRO), part of Cornwall Council, was situated at Old County Hall in Truro and is the main repository for the historical archives of Cornwall, England. The Old County Hall site closed in September 2018 to enable staff to prepare the collections for their move to Kresen Kernow, which was due to open in 2019.[15]

Cornwall County Council was persuaded by Kenneth Hamilton Jenkin and others to set up Cornwall Record Office in the 1950s.[16] Today its three and a half miles of shelving holds millions of individual historical documents, including deeds, leases, manorial records, parish registers, correspondence and diaries, maps and plans, council records and photographs; many of these relating to mining, fishing, farming and most other aspects of life in Cornwall. The documents range in date from the mid-12th century right up to the 21st century and they comprise an exceptionally valuable resource for local historians, family historians, ecclesiastical historians, mining historians and those undertaking research or academic projects.

Their online catalogue contains over a quarter of a million entries and is growing apace.

Cornish Studies Centre[edit]

The Cornish Studies Library, located in Redruth, was Cornwall's largest library of Cornish printed and published archival material.[citation needed] It contained a wide range of resources for everyday use and academic research.[17] The Library closed temporarily in September 2018 to enable staff to prepare the collections for a move to Kresen Kernow, Cornwall's new archive centre, also in Redruth.

The Cornwall Centre, Redruth

The Library was located in Alma Place in Redruth.[18][17] Collections included books, maps, newspapers, journals, postal and trade directories, audio and video material, with a large number of Cornish newspapers and census records being available to view on microfilm.[19] Some information on Cornwall for visitors to the region was available in the atrium; however, it was not a fully staffed Tourist Information Centre.[citation needed]

Since the Cornish Studies Library had outgrown the Alma Place site, it will moved to Kresen Kernow, a new, purpose-built archive centre.[18][20] Along with the library, the new centre houses the Cornwall Record Office and the Cornwall and Scilly Historic Environment Record, and preserves the Redruth Brewery building (part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site).[20] It opened in September 2019[20]

Legal deposit status in the British Isles[edit]

Currently there are six Legal Deposit Libraries in the UK and Ireland. The British Library, Bodleian Library, Cambridge University Library, National Library of Scotland, National Library of Wales, and Library of Trinity College Dublin share responsibility for cataloguing the legal deposit intake of new publications. Allocations of books take account of the different imprints of books, and also the language that the book is written in. Irish imprints and Irish language items go to Trinity College Dublin, Scottish imprints and Gaelic language items go to the National Library of Scotland, and Welsh imprints and material in both the Welsh and Cornish languages go to the National Library of Wales.[21]


  1. ^ Cornwall Council. "Kresen Kernow - Cornwall's new archive centre - Cornwall Council". Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  2. ^ "Progress continues at Cornish National Library & Archive (Kresen Kernow) Redruth, Kernow". Transceltic. 1 October 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  3. ^ West Briton (10 May 2012). "Archive is vital to the future of 'struggling' town – claim". Cornwall Live. Retrieved 28 December 2016.
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ "Cornwall Council - Public urged to have their say on the future". Archived from the original on 29 September 2011. Retrieved 7 September 2012.
  6. ^ "Bringing The Ordinalia Home, The Cornish National Library – The Stadium of the Mind - Cross Group Working Party Review of Cornwall Libraries". March 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 March 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
  7. ^ "Tolzethan: The Life and Times of Joseph Hambley Rowe". Gorsedh Publications and Sales. 15 December 2011. Archived from the original on 20 September 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
  8. ^ "National Theatre hope highlighted by report". West Briton. 2 February 2012. Archived from the original on 14 September 2012. Retrieved 2 February 2012.
  9. ^ "Cornwall secures Lottery funding for Kresen Kernow | The National Lottery Heritage Fund". Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  10. ^ "Kresen Kernow – have your say in shaping the new home for Cornwall's stories - Convergence Cornwall". Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  11. ^ "Kresen Kernow - Convergence Cornwall". Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  12. ^ Purcell (31 July 2017). "Kresen Kernow". Purcell. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  13. ^ "Kresen Kernow secures £11.7m to turn historic brewhouse into central Cornish archive". Museums + Heritage Advisor. 6 August 2015. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  14. ^ Ltd, Insider Media. "Midas awarded Kresen Kernow contract". Insider Media Ltd. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  15. ^ Cornwall Council. "Kresen Kernow - Cornwall's new archive centre - Cornwall Council". Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  16. ^ Justin Brooke, ‘Jenkin, (Alfred) Kenneth Hamilton (1900–1980)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 30 December 2008.
  17. ^ a b "Cornish Studies Library". Cornwall Council. 28 December 2016.
  18. ^ a b "The Cornwall Centre". Cornwall Council. 5 October 2016.
  19. ^ "About the Cornish Studies Library". Cornwall Council. 9 June 2016.
  20. ^ a b c "Kresen Kernow - Cornwall's new archive centre". Cornwall Council. 15 November 2016.
  21. ^ "The Legal Deposit Libraries Shared Cataloguing Programme". British Library. 30 November 2003. Retrieved 7 September 2012.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°14′06″N 5°14′03″W / 50.2350°N 5.2342°W / 50.2350; -5.2342