A Cornish Conquest ; the Displaced Descendants of the Famed Miners Build Their Own 'Little Cornwalls' as County Wins Bid for World Heritage Status

Article excerpt

It is your archetypal Cornish village, complete with whitewashed Methodist chapel, mining cottages and local shop selling pasties. But this isn't Cornwall, it's several thousand miles away, in Mexico. The town of Real del Monte, an hour's drive from Mexico City and known as "Little Cornwall", is among a growing number of places around the world where one of Britain's best-known cultures is being revived and celebrated.

Officials from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) plan to lobby Unesco to grant World Heritage status to sites that have remained forever Cornwall. This is the legacy of the Cornish diaspora, a mass emigration of miners and their families in the 19th century credited with bringing in-dustrialisation to the world. Less than a year ago, Unesco granted Cornish mining World Heritage status, with the county's mining sites being put on the same level as world wonders such as the Taj Mahal and Great Wall of China.

Deborah Boden, who led Cornwall's successful bid, said: "We are in discussion with DCMS regarding their backing an extension of our World Heritage Site status to those countries where Cornish mining landscapes survive overseas."

Officials say the process of getting countries to put forward what is known as a transnational nomination will begin at a World Heritage meeting in New Zealand next month.

The extent of the region's influence is revealed for the first time in a report by Cornish Mining World Heritage. It shows 40 key locations worldwide that have direct connections to Cornwall and says there are at least 17. There are dozens of Cornish societies and mining towns in the US and Australia are now marketing themselves as "Little Cornwall" with many having annual festivals to celebrate their Cornish roots.

The Cornish footprint reached as far as New Zealand, South Africa, and Mexico, as miners set up colonies where their expertise was in demand. Festivals are now held in various countries to celebrate the historic links and a record 80,000 people flocked to a Cornish festival in Australia last week. …