Heritage Open Days of 2014 this Weekend!

Like last year, many heritage attractions are free to explore, usually for longer opening times with possible special exhibitions and access to places usually closed to the public all weekend for the Heritage Open Days! It is a special annual weekend supported by English Heritage since 1994 and you can visit the Heritage Open Days official website. This year it runs from Thursday 11th – Sunday 14th September. logos

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Ely Cathedral above the market. Source: Pete Johnstone

With open nights on Friday evening, open tours on Saturday and open houses on the Sunday, an interesting Ely Heritage Weekend is coming up! On Friday evening, you can experience Oliver Cromwell’s House, Ely Cathedral, The Stained Glass Museum and Ely Museum at the unusual hours of after closing time. The Saturday has lots more things going on! Bookings for places are advisable as they are different and enjoyable guided tours around Ely, in the Courthouse, the 15th century Old Palace and the West Tower in Ely Cathedral. The Ely Museum also has a guided tour alongside many activities. On the Sunday, Ely opens its 14th and 16th century houses at 7 & 9 Silver Street, Ely’s Old Porta entrance and the 14th century chapel that are rarely opened to the public. Additionally, a tour around St Peter’s Church and riverside walk with the Environment Agency and Cambridgeshire ACRE is on. Pre-booking is essential with all of Sunday activities.

The Chatteris Library is showing photographs of how the buildings in Chatteris changed over time.

March offers around 20 events and activities this year including a trip with a local historian to learn about the town’s influential Gray family, a gentle walk on architectural details of the buildings along Station Road, a walk seeing the railway and water voles, children’s activities and a toys exhibition at March and District Museum – see The March Society website.

Heritage Open Days in Fenland poster. Source: The March Society

Fenland Heritage Open Days booklet front cover. Source: The March Society.

The Capital of the Fens – Wisbech – have many things open and to see for the weekend. A wide range of buildings are open such as Wisbech Castle, Masonic Lodges and Council Chambers, which has displays of furniture, historical styles and various artefacts to view and learn from. The other venues open from the public ranged from a theatre – the Angles Theatre – to all the National Trust properties, including the one usually closed to the public. A guided tour and apple tasting at The Orchard and the various churches and museums in Wisbech with their individual features, characters and various kinds of history exhibited through talks to demonstrations will be specially available for the public this Heritage Open Days weekend too. Of particular interest, “Vivian” the fire engine that served Wisbech in the 1930s to the 1960s is on display.

The Fenland Heritage Open Days booklet that cover the rest of Fenland for can be consulted for further information.

The Ramsey Rural Museum is open on the Sunday and there will be a great range of ways to discover Ramsay‘s heritage including a Great Fen exhibition trailer and learning about the two world wars.

St Ives opens a number of their religious and town buildings for most of the weekend, including a mosque that opens on the Sunday and exhibitions in the Corn Exchange, while Holt Island Nature Reserve is open all weekend with a basket weaving display. The flyer can be downloaded here.

In Houghton, National Trust’s Houghton Mill is free and themed Victorian with costumed actors and available toys for children to play with, and the Mill will work to produce flour.

Have a great one!

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Ouse Washes LP Conference: a great success

Heritage Lottery FundLast week Thursday the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership (OWLP) scheme held its first and long-awaited conference. This event was very well attended: with over 60 people we filled up The Maltings in Ely and had some very lively discussions going.

I would, first of all, like to thank everybody who attended. The good number and mixture of representatives from a wide range of local authorities, agencies, charities and community groups and other organisations meant that the two workshops held were very productive.

The two main presentations – by Kate Collins (Sheils Flynn) presenting the results of the Landscape Character Assessment for the area, and Rachael Brown (Cambridgeshire ACRE) those of the Audience & Access Planning work done – were also very well received, judging by the comments made on the day.

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Conference 5 September 2013: ‘Finding Character and Audiences’

Good feedback given

Cambridgeshire ACRE has been able to organise this event thanks to the excellent help before and during the day given by our four summer placement volunteers (Peter, Anna, Jessica and Chris). The overall impression left by the participants in the feedback forms was that they found this event useful and informative; see e.g. the below graph (where 1 means poor and 5 means excellent):

Picture for blog conference

Some quotes from the audience:

Really well structured and organised event. Excellent balance between presentations; thank you.

The presentations gave an excellent base for the workshops to explore. Good networking and sharing ideas.

Interesting presentations. Fascinating interactions round the table, much better than just being talked to. Everyone here has different interest /views

Useful information coming out of the day

We are currently going through the mountain of information written down during the workshops, as comments left on the feedback sheets, display comments sheets or on the logo voting sheets. Although all information will also be collated in a report later this month, to give you a bit of an understanding of what has come out of the conference, below are a few bite-sized bits of information:

* Some key barriers to access were identified: most people agreed that the following barriers to access, engagement and learning should be the primary barriers to be addressed through the OWLP scheme:

  • Limited provision of information about the landscape and its heritage;
  • Lack of coherent tourism promotion;
  • Lack of sufficient and varied tourism attractions & amenities in the area;
  • Limited public access points to the landscape.

* The workshops also highlighted some additional barriers, in particular:

  • Barriers for water recreation is limited throughout the area (e.g., access to water; slipways);
  • There are some linear walking and cycling routes, but people prefer and have a clear need for more circular routes close to their settlements;
  • Need for the creation of education packs for local schools about the heritage of the area, to be created in close co-operation with teachers.

A good number of ideas came forward how to address these barriers, with the creation of stronger links with education providers and local tourism business providers and local empowerment through skills training and other initiatives coming out clearly.

Leaving a sustainable legacy

The second workshop, where people provided ideas to ensure a sustainable legacy for the OWLP scheme also provided us ample food for thought. A good number of suggestions have been highlighted by people what the various organisations could bring to the partnership, helping the scheme to develop and work towards a sustainable legacy.

The central team and the OWLP partnership as a whole will take all ideas into account: there certainly is enough there for us to follow up on and to guide the further development of this exciting project through the next few years.

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Lively discussions during the workshops

Development Phase has commenced

Following the successful stage 1 bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund, the next important step for the Landscape Partnership Scheme has now started: the Development Phase.

Flooded A1101 Wash Road near Welney

Flooded A1101 Wash Road near Welney, taken last week

With development funding of £90,500 in place, Cambridgeshire ACRE will now lead on the preparation of the stage 2 bid, which is scheduled for late 2013. As part of this, the 26 proposed projects will be worked out in more detail, resulting in clear plans for landscape conservation, participation, learning and access opportunities. A detailed Landscape Conservation Action Plan will also be prepared. All of this will be done in close cooperation with a large number of partner organisations.

In order to coordinate the various workstreams, Cambridgeshire Acre has just appointed a Programme Manager. And that’s me; my name is Mark Nokkert. My aim is to regularly write posts on this blog to keep you up-to-date of progress, and to invite partners to contribute with posts to share their expertise and experiences.

As part of the Delivery Phase (2014-2016), a specific website will also be developed. Until then, this blog will be the main source of information. So, if you would like to be kept up-to-date and you have not already done so, please subscribe to this blog (press ‘Follow’ on the right). Please also forward this to anyone else who might be interested.

Ouse Washes LPS Programme Manager at Welney

Ouse Washes LPS Programme Manager at Welney

Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership Scheme gets the green light

The Scheme’s lead partner, Cambridgeshire ACRE, met with the Heritage Lottery Fund on 13 September and was given the ‘green light’ to start work.

Part of the meeting was to receive feedback on the Stage 1 submission and we wanted to share an extract from the HLF’s expert advisor’s recommendation report:

I was very impressed with this project, both in terms of the submission document and the people and places we visited… Because of the compelling need and opportunity the LPS presents, the significant heritage, learning and participation benefits and the very strong project partnership and Vision,… I strongly recommend this project for HLF funding. I have seen few better Stage 1 LPS submissions.

Thanks again to all partners for getting us to this stage of the Scheme’s development.

The next task is to recruit a Programme Manager who can lead on the development of the Landscape Conservation Action Plan. Cambridgeshire ACRE is advertising this role on its website: http://www.cambsacre.org.uk/jobs.php

It’s a great opportunity for the right countryside professional so if you know anyone who might be interested in applying for the role, please share this link with them. The closing date for applications is 31 October 2012.

We’ll keep everyone abreast of developments via the blog.