Wow, we have only gone and done it! We have received confirmation that Wirksworth Heritage Centre has been successful in its bid to Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for redevelopment of our St John’s Street building into a new modern heritage centre and focal hub for the community. This is fantastic news and a just reward for all the work put in over more than two years by trustees, consultants and volunteers to enable this to happen. This will really focus our minds on applications to other grant funders to raise the balance of our match-funding requirement which must be in place before we can go ahead..
As a result we will soon be evicted from the shop at Webster’s as we get the builders in. While it is closed we plan to have a stall at the monthly Farmers’ Market to continue our sales shop and keep everyone up-to-date on the project’s progress. However, it would be good to have a stronger presence in the town if we could find some smallish premises where we could be open each week.
The announcement also means it now seems like old news that Our T’Owd Man Rocks event at the Town Hall on 19th November turned out to be a great success, so much so that many attendees clamoured for another similar one each year. Facsimile created a great atmosphere and got everyone dancing but the night wasn’t without its moments, however, as the Town Hall cooker wasn’t working. A lot of innovative thinking came into place at very short notice and thanks go to EVR railway for steaming in to provide the hot food.
We also did very well at the Wirksworth Christmas Market on the 27th thanks to a good turnout of both visitors and of volunteers manning Webster’s and our street stall down the road. We hope the revitalised Traders’ Association can continue to develop this event in future years.
It looks like we will all be having a Merry Christmas. What a great end to the year.
In boxing up lots of old papers recently we came across a copy of one of our early newsletters dated March 1989 which featured Woolley, the woolly rhinoceros, on the front page. It seems nothing in this world ever changes as the topics raised in its five pages included the perennial need for fundraising, the dependence on willing volunteers and, particularly relevant, the clouds of dust in the Silk Mill as the team were clearing it out.
The Silk Mill, the home of Wirksworth Heritage Centre for 30 years, was sold by auction on 27 October. The sale created a deadline for the current clear-up by our volunteers, and added impetus to our packing up of the heritage collection for storage in Derby. In the process Woolley has finally come out of the dream cave in the corner of the first floor and gone into hibernation until he/she finds a new home in 2018.
By the time this article appears our big dance and raffle will have taken place and brought much-needed funds to add to the pot of match-funding money we must have in support of our Heritage Lottery Fund bid. We have also made a number of grant applications which we hope will be positive and help get us to our required total as quickly as possible after our successful (we hope) bid is announced, perhaps around the end of the year. Probably the last local fundraiser we will have this year will be the Wirksworth Christmas Market on 27th November when we will again have the centre open as well as a stall in the marketplace. Last year’s was extremely cold so we had to rotate the volunteers on the stall every hour and, even with the mulled wine, it probably discouraged the visitors from staying too long. With luck, this year’s will be bright with some much-deserved sunshine warmth.