Thursday, 24 September 2015

Getting Stronger

Strutts North Mill has been accepted onto East Midlands Museum Service's 'Stronger Museums' programme, supported by Arts Council England. Tom Wyke, Fund Raising and Volunteer Support Officer, and myself as manager have just spent two days in the beautiful surroundings of Launde Abbey in Leicestershire.
This residential start to the programme has given us a chance to meet people from the other museums included in the programme and the mentors we will be working with.
It has been an inspiring and interesting couple of days. Lots to process and think about. We even have homework! The Abbey is normally a retreat centre, and the peace and tranquility was emphasised by the absence of phone signal and wifi, though there were some hot spots for those who really needed them. I was sent to a tree stump across a field of sheep to find one! The food was fantastic, including the afternoon break's cream scones.
Not only was there a ha ha, but there was also an honesty bar.
On a more serious note, a lot of hard work was done and I know we came away with a clearer focus for the future and a better understanding of how we might achieve that.
And the buzz word for the two days was 'friend-raising' alongside fund-raising.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Busman's holiday!

On September 15th we went on a coach trip organised by the North Mill's Volunteers' Association. The morning was grey and drizzly when we set off, but by the time we got to our destination the sun was shining. First stop was the Anderton Boat Lift in Northwich. Linking the River Weaver and the Trent and Mersey Canal, it's an amazing feat of engineering, with an interesting history as it adapted to electricity in the 20th century and oil hydraulics more recently. It's still used by canal boats. We went on a boat trip down to the river, and then took a short cruise as far as Northwich. There's a wealth of history there, as well as wildlife interest. Salt mines and the development of polythene, herons and otters, engineering and building techniques to cope with the subsidence caused by salt mines and sink holes.
There's a fantastic Visitor Centre, with a cafe, gift shop and some great interpretation for all and activities for families. After lunch we headed for Weaver Hall Museum and Workhouse. The Museum is based in old workhouse buildings and it tells the story of the workhouse. It also has galleries that share and interpret all aspects of Northwich's long and fascinating heritage, including boat building and salt mining.
North Mill volunteers are drawn to machinery wherever they may go!
Making a beeline for the Workhouse! It's always interesting to see how other heritage attractions do it, looking at their interpretation, facilities and interaction with visitors. This was a very enjoyable day out, with lots to inspire.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Watching the wheels go round

Stage 6 of the Aviva Tour of Britain, from Stoke on Trent to Nottingham, will be coming through Belper on Friday afternoon, 11th September. There are painted bikes by the roadsides all along the route, and I have noticed some special shop window displays too. There's going to be a special market on the Market Place in Belper. We will be here at the North Mill, watching the wheels go round. What a wonderful invention!

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Heritage Open Days

On Sunday September 13th Belper North Mill will be taking part in the national Heritage Open Days event. One of our volunteers will be leading a free walk to housing on Long Row. Built as part of the Strutts development of the town, it's a fascinating insight into social and historic housing. We will be holding a special book stall in the mill. We have a great selection of local history and special interest books in our gift shop. Volunteers will be on hand to talk about how these books might help you with family or local history research. You will also be able to see a fantastic exhibition created by Tracey Harris, fine art student from the University of Derby, celebrating sewing memories in a very unusual way. The Mill will be open from 11am until 4pm, usual admission charges apply. Heritage Open Days is the country’s largest heritage festival with over 4,600 events, around 40,000 volunteers and some three million visitors taking part last year. Celebrating local history, architecture and culture, the four-day event offers everyone the chance to explore hidden places and experience something new - all of which is completely free of charge. Heritage Open Days operates as part of the National Trust with funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery and Historic England. Established in 1994, it is England’s contribution to the European Heritage Days, which is held annually in September in 50 signatory states to the European Cultural Convention. For more information and to find out about events across England: