things are ticking along nicely here at THI HQ with a particularly important Partnership Board meeting shaping up for the end of September, and our outreach and employment programme about to launch in earnest.
Before we get back to you with news on these, we thought you would like to hear how our second Historic Environment Intern is getting along a month into the job. I hand you over for this first of many Guest Blogs from Dan Longman:
“I’m just coming up to the end of my first month working on the Prescot Townscape Heritage Initiative and it’s been a huge learning curve. The time is already flying by, but I’m sure it won’t be long before all this new information begins to sink in. There is certainly a lot to study and my desk is already heaving with publications ranging from information on architectural vocabulary, to the history of farm buildings in England and Wales.
I have a great interest in local history and indeed heritage in general, but my academic training is woefully lacking. I wouldn’t have thought a background in English and Law would have bagged me the job, but here I am. It just goes to show that enthusiasm and determination can get you where you want to be.
I am the second intern to work with the team helping to bring the THI to life and so far it’s been extremely interesting. The people here are very friendly and are always quick to solve the various questions and quandaries which have cropped up these past few weeks. I am originally from the Wirral so a large part of my learning has been simply getting to know Knowsley. I hadn’t realised the borough was home to so many interesting buildings, in particular the stunning properties to be found within Knowsley Village.
My first task has been to appraise the Town End Conservation Area in the village of Cronton, a short bus ride away from the office. It is a very peaceful little neighbourhood which features some wonderful 18th century sandstone properties in a distinctly rural setting. I am learning as I go, saddled with a multitude of publications from English Heritage, an array of historic maps, old photographs and guides. It has been fascinating to dig into Cronton’s past and uncover the story of its buildings and communities. This is the sort of hands-on history which first enticed me to the role and I fully recommend anyone with an interest in history to get out and experience this method of study. Books and photographs can only tell us so much – the real fun is out in the field!
Some of the distinctive sandstone and brick buildings in Cronton Conservation Area
As well as the invaluable experience of just being a part of the THI, the added bonus of this post is the MSc in Building Conservation and Regeneration at the University of Central Lancashire. This one year course will provide a significant boost to my amateur historical endeavours and enable me to take my passion for heritage into the professional sphere (results permitting) in 2016. University life begins once again in just a few weeks.
Until then I’ll be completing the appraisal for Cronton and also getting to grips with a brand new guide to help Prescot traders and their shop fronts. All too often shop refurbishments are failing to take into the account the overall character of the building and indeed the wider community in which they stand. This guide will draw upon existing legislation and guidance and enable shopkeepers to select appropriate designs when making any amendments or alterations to their premises. It is hoped that this will not only make Prescot a more picturesque place to live, but also create greater community cohesion and benefit the local economy.
The great thing about the THI is its far-reaching potential to impact across whole sections of society. Heritage is not just some ethereal term to describe days gone by. It is a unique mechanism which enables communities to harness their own sense of identity and from which to take inspiration for their own futures. I hope my time here will allow me to help the THI achieve these goals.
So overall my first month has been excellent and apart from a few customary IT hiccups, it has been a fun and educational experience. Anyone with an interest in history, heritage or the built environment should seriously consider applying for the role next year when it comes around again. You won’t regret it.
I aim to do a new blog post every month to keep readers up to date on my work within the THI and the exciting developments which no doubt lie ahead.”