Heritage Hub & Network

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Why we want to create a Heritage Hub

The brown signs on the A41 announce “Berkhamsted – Historic Market Town”. Walking around you see Berkhamsted looks like it has a past – but there’s very little around town to tell you about it.  You search Berkhamsted Tourism online and find flimsy sites with little content.  You can’t find a leaflet or visitor guide.  You just can’t easily find out

how Berkhamsted got to now

And it’s not much different for local people – how much do most of us know of the richness of Berkhamsted’s enjoyable heritage?  Where can you go to find out how your forbears lived their lives, went to work, raised their children, and survived huge changes and challenges?  How did the town, the surrounding villages and countryside get to look the way they do?  Unless you’re a history enthusiast, our heritage is all too often hidden, disjointed, and hard to grasp.

As one young person said during our market research “We know more about London!”

What the Hub & Network project will be investigating

The time is right to join with local people and community groups in investigating how to bring this exciting past to life, for the benefit of locals and visitors alike. The Heritage Hub project team will join with partners to build a sense of “our place” by finding out:

  • what residents and local groups feel would appeal to them to get delving into our local heritage
  • the best ways of enthusing many more people, of all ages and backgrounds, including young people and families
  • how the large collections of locked-away historic memorabilia can best be used to tell the stories
  • how people representing local heritage buildings and countryside spaces can plan and work together in a Network, to make a much stronger impact collectively, for the benefit of all
  • the feasibility and costs of establishing the Hub as a central support resource in a local heritage building (such as the Town Hall), and of mounting its key services – or whether sustainability and accessibility are better achieved by good online resources
  • and whether there is strong enthusiasm to form an active team of Hub people and Network representatives to make it all work.

How the Hub is more than a museum

People have wondered if the Hub is simply a slightly weird museum, with some outreach. The answer is No!  There are overlaps of course, but also crucial differences.  The essentials are:

  • The Hub and the Network are indivisible – there cannot be one without the other.
  • The Hub and Network involve a team of people working together to enhance local overall heritage provision and boost its impact.
  • The Hub and Network together embrace strategies to
    • engagingly tell the very many stories of “How Berkhamsted Got To Now”
    • increase the amount of on-site heritage information
    • widen engagement with under-reached parts of the community
    • be largely accessible all day/every day, rather than just a few hours a week
    • encourage local individual and family collections and histories to be shared.
  • Network partners could range from the major (e.g. our Castle, churches and schools) to smaller venues (e.g. coaching inns and historic shops).
  • Network premises and spaces could provide venues for family events, arts and drama, small pop-up displays, workshops, school visits, signposting, info boards etc. The type and scale of provision would vary greatly.
  • The Hub will include online resources to help access collections, events and activities. If a suitable Hub location space becomes available and is financially sustainable, it could provide a central, welcoming base for larger exhibitions, workshops, school visits and research, plus the start of themed trails, leaflets and more. This project will explore other viable options on the Hub’s physical/virtual spectrum, including sharing out displays and activities across a range of Network premises.
  • Hub and Network services would reinforce, not supplant, the existing valuable activities, websites and social media of existing community bodies.
  • The Hub and Network will cover the rich heritage and landscape history of Berkhamsted, Northchurch, the surrounding villages, the Commons and the Ashridge area.

HLF, Town Council and History Society funding – and how we’ll use it

We are extremely pleased that the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) have agreed that our ideas are well worth investing in, with a much-appreciated grant of c£61,000 through the National Lottery, thanks to Lottery players. This grant, together with additional financial support from Berkhamsted Town Council and Berkhamsted History Society, will enable wide consultations, detailed studies and governance training, all supported and co-ordinated by industry experts.

We hope to listen to the views of many people in 2018 and 2019 as we work though the various aspects to be explored.  In particular, there will be extensive local public consultation in 2019.

How long this will all take

The project has been carefully mapped out to ensure that every important stage is completed in the right order, as plans for the Hub & Network take shape. The project will take over a year to complete, so we’ll be reporting back to the HLF and the town in late 2019.  Once this investigation stage is completed, we will then assess and plan for the implementation stages.

Who is in the Hub Project Team

For Berkhamsted Local History & Museum Society: Jenny Sherwood and Norman Groves
For Berkhamsted Town Hall Trust:    Pete Elsworth and Giles Clark
For Berkhamsted & District Archaeological Society:    Peter Clayton
For Dacorum Heritage Trust:    Roger Hands (and Peter Clayton)
For Rectory Lane Cemetery Project (the Friends of St Peters):    James Moir

Plus:
Ian Reay – Herts County Council and Berkhamsted Town Councillor
Linda Hattersley – Market Research and Communications Specialist
Norman Groves is our Project Manager

We will provide brief updates here regularly as our Project makes progress over the course of 2018/19. 

Update 26 Oct 2018…

After receiving the HLF grant in April, the Project Group invited competitive Proposals, based on our Project Brief, to lead the Hub and Network investigations. We chose Fourth Street Place Consultants Ltd, who are heritage business planning consultants. They will work with a historic buildings consultant, interpretation and exhibition designers, and architects.

On the 8th October our first workshop was held with the consultancy team and key people from around the town from many of the main organisations who, we hope, will want to contribute to the Heritage Hub & Network in various ways.

Before Christmas 2018 Fourth Street and team will be undertaking detailed research and visits to specific key sites around the town. They will be holding meetings with a number of people who were at the workshop, and others, in advance of further consultations in 2019. They will report back in late December with a detailed analysis of various options for the Hub & Network for consideration and further work in 2019.

NB The main time for local consultations will be in Spring 2019, as there are a number of other stages we need to go through beforehand.  So please be patient with us!

You can email Norman Groves, Project Manager for the BHH Project here

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