A project that tells the history of Wirksworth’s shop has been recognised for a national award. Open All Hours was a finalist in the Community Engagement category at the Association for Heritage Interpretation Engaging People Awards. Last night, the project was presented with a commendation at the gala award ceremony held in Lincoln as part of AHI’s annual conference.
Open All Hours was competing in the Community Engagement category against Manchester Museum, SS Great Britain and Leicester’s Navrang Arts. The category winner was Navrang Arts’ Rebuilding Lives: 50 years of Ugandan Asians in Leicester.
The project brought together members of the local community who shared memories and photos, researched and told the history of Wirksworth’s independent shops and shopkeepers. The results of the research were turned in a book, YouTube videos, self-guided trails, a town-wide Street Museum in shop windows and an exhibition at Wirksworth Heritage Centre. The Open All Hours book is on sale at Wirksworth Bookshop, Marsden’s Gifts, the Heritage Centre and Wirksworth Railway Station, and is available to borrow from Wirksworth Library.
The Association for Heritage Interpretation judges said, “The heart of the community was very much at the centre of this project. The interpretive attention to detail through planning, delivery and evaluation was excellent and it was interesting to see how this heritage project fitted into a bigger master plan for the town. Every market town could benefit from a project like this to draw out the stories that resonate with local people.”
Open All Hours was led by Wirksworth heritage organisation inHeritage on behalf of New Opportunities Wirksworth.
Bill Bevan, inHeritage founded and project manager said, “We are over the moon with national recognition and endorsement for this community history project. Open All hours was a people’s history, Wirksworth’s own heritage researched, shared and exhibited by residents rather than being held in a museum. One of the things that I most enjoyed was the Street Museum. Thanks to the generosity of shopkeepers, we turned 16 shop windows into temporary museum display cases, exhibiting objects and interpreting history in the street where they were available for people to experience 24/7 without having to make the choice to visit a gallery. Many people leant objects, shared stories and provided photographs that were curated as professionally as any museum exhibition.”
The project was funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and supported by Wirksworth Town Council, Wirksworth Heritage Centre and Wirksworth Traders.