Apologies for it having taken me so long to introduce myself and give an update on my role within the Prescot Townscape Heritage Initiative, I’ve just been so busy with all the exciting projects going on.
My role as the Skills Co-ordinator for the THI is to encourage participation, interest and engagement in historical activities and heritage building knowledge and skills.
The work and projects I have in store over the next three years have largely been guided by the targets agreed with the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2012 and through networking with many local organisations, community groups and skills providers to create a programme for the skills and outreach strands of the THI.
So far, I have met many passionate and determined people who are concentrating their labour and efforts on reinterpreting Prescot, making it a hub for people to shop, socialise, appreciate and live. These people and their desire to make Prescot a better place have made my introduction to Prescot and Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council (KMBC) an extremely enjoyable and productive one.
Now for some updates, starting with September:
In September, the THI started its first Knitting and Crochet group in the Heritage Hub on Eccleston Street of a Tuesday evening. It has grown very quickly and now has a waiting list of twenty plus people for next year’s group. The success of this has meant that we have had to change location, from the Heritage Hub to Vees Place on Kemble Street so as to allow for enough space. Advertising for this will start in December and we aim to continue this delightful club on a drop in basis.
Dan Longman (our new Historic Environment Intern) and I, attended a Career Zone in Liverpool John Moores University so as to encourage students to participate in the THI work In Prescot, as well as broadening their view with regards the spectrum of work in heritage. With the Prescot THI pop up towering behind us, we gained the attention of at least two hundred students and we spoke directly with at least a dozen, most of whom did not know where Prescot even is!
Discussions were started with St Helens College Horticulture Department, the Friends of Prescot Cemetery and Churchyard and the Environmental Sustainability Service team in KMBC with the aim of providing work placements for students, whilst working on ‘Grow Prescot’. The project will consist of students, KMBC and FOPCC working together on an Elizabethan Garden, which will be situated at the top end of the Cemetery, providing necessary experience for students to develop and contribute to their portfolio whilst learning about the history of formal gardening, labour for FOPCC and an end product that continues the excellence highlighted in their Green Flag Award.
A recent graduate with an MSc in Building Conservation and Regeneration: Adrian, also joined our team. Adrian is working on statements of significance for Atherton Street and Appraisals for Old Hall Lane Conservation Area in Kirkby. Adrian is particularly enthusiastic about getting involved with complimentary aspect of the THI also, so you will no doubt meet him attending some of our future events.
October was a busy month in Prescot with many students wandering the streets:
My colleague Owen Barton delivered a seminar on the historical significance of watchmaking in Prescot and the THI bid and objectives to a group of UClan Msc Building Conservation and Adaptation students.
After his presentation we were then treated to a tour of a local watchmaking workshop (please see Dan’s blog ), whose historical features are truly a delight to see.
The end of this delightful afternoon was finished with a tour of the THI buildings and the feedback gained was extremely positive, with many expressing a wish to return to the area.
On the same day several students studying a degree in English at LJMU were given a tour of the town by Elspeth Graham. Elspeth spoke of the significance of Shakespeare with Prescot, the THI and the rich trade industry of old. The tour was the first stage of what is aptly called ‘Building Stories’, which is a research and literary project starting in January 2016 of THI buildings in Prescot. With regard to this, invites will soon be given to the community to attend afternoon and evening events to share memorabilia, photos and verbal accounts of people who lived in those buildings over the years so as to make the end product for each building richer in significance.
David Griffiths, another talented KMBC employee, delivered a lecture: ‘Watchmaking and the Engineer’, to second year Engineering students studying at LJMU.
Having attended the lecture, I learnt a great deal, taking two pages of notes, I can highly recommend his lecture!
Stella from Family and Community Education and her art students have accepted the artistic challenge of ‘Reminiscent Prescot’, which will be an art exhibition held in Vee’s Place on the 17th of December 1:30pm. The installations depict pictures of Prescot over the years, produced in a contemporary manner. Volunteers are from Leyland House and Manor Farm community art groups. All are welcome and encouraged to attend the unveiling in December.
Halloween saw the THI, MATE Productions , Prescot Town Team, Prescot Town Council and Prescot Shopping Centre working together to transform Prescot in to a hive of spiders’ webs and pumpkins. The THI activities consisted of Wizards’ Wands and Talismans, Elizabethan Charms to warn off ghouls and spirits and lantern decorating to light one’s path safely through the night. We engaged with over two hundred children and the afternoon was a great success, highlighting the importance and benefits of working together.
For pictures of the activities mentioned, please look on Love Prescot
November so far:
I had the pleasure of being able to help with the Poppy installation at the War Memorial in Prescot Cemetery on Friday 6th November. All seven thousand poppies had been made by the rather determined, faithful and creative volunteers of FOPCC (prescotcemetery.org.uk)and where in turn planted by them also. We were surprised to have managed to plant them all in the one afternoon, which was lucky given the downpour on the Saturday. Both services on Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day were extremely well attended and the installation was a beautiful reminder of the sacrifices made.
I met with the Principal of Knowsley Community College and the Construction Course Leader at St Helen’s College to see how the THI can engage with students, particularly in construction, for work experience and lectures to be given on the built environment and heritage skills.
Plans are being pursued for the Christmas Light switch on, on the 28th of November, followed by another THI presence on the 5th of December, with the THI providing card making and calligraphy.
In summary, I am optimistic about the future of the THI skills and outreach strands, not least because of the wonderful people I am lucky to collaborate with.