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Wirksworth Heritage Centre Calls for New Trustees

Wirksworth Heritage Centre is an independent heritage charity, based in Wirksworth, a Derbyshire town with a strong sense of community and an important history.  We are looking for 3 new Trustees to take the centre into an exciting future over the next five years.

We are developing a new heritage centre building for Wirksworth, with a confirmed grant of £1.3Million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help us tell the story of Wirksworth through excellent visitor and community facilities, education programmes, events and exhibitions.

We are looking for individuals who are creative, strategic thinkers, have heritage, activity planning, fundraising, marketing or project management experience, and who can help us manage our charity successfully.  Board level experience is useful but optional – a ‘hands on’ commitment is more important. We are also keen to involve people who have used our centre in the past.  The positions are voluntary, and board meetings are held in Wirksworth monthly.

This is a wonderful opportunity to use your business skills in a new environment, and make a real difference to the future of Wirksworth’s amazing heritage.

To register an interest for the position of Trustee, please contact us for an information pack, or for just an informal chat to find out more by email to:   closing date for expressions of interest for a Trustee role is 3rd March 2017

Full Steam Ahead!

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.

Woolley’s out of the cave

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.


Learning from Newark

At the beginning of September the Wirksworth Heritage Centre trustees and volunteers had a bus excursion to the National Civil War Museum in Newark. Their director gave us a guided tour and lots of background information on their project. Despite having once lived near Newark, I knew very little of the civil war other than the town’s battered castle and most of our volunteers were in the same position. As well as being a very informative lesson on the wars we all came away with ideas for our own project and many said they would go back to the museum again.

The dust has settled on our HLF lottery bid application so we are now engaged in the serious business of fund-raising for our share of the project cost.

At the Wirksworth Festival trail weekend we were operating a café in the courtyard behind Webster’s and we started slowly during Saturday morning’s bad weather. However, we ended up running out of cakes on Sunday afternoon, so a great event for the town was also a good step on the campaign for us.

We hope to raise a good proportion of our required funds from the auction on 27th October of the old Heritage Centre premises at the Silk Mill in Crown Yard. We will be sorry to see such a lovely building go out of our control but we are sure someone will turn it into a lovely home. The auction does mean that the volunteer team is busy working to a deadline packing up the collection for storage with Derby Museums.

Our dance event at Wirksworth Town Hall on 19th November has been titled T’Owd Man Rocks and tickets are £12 each from TraidLinks and the heritage centre. As I have mentioned before, the Derbyshire band Facsimile is playing and we expect the night to do really well for us. In conjunction with the dance we are running a Funding Our Future raffle in which the top prize is a diesel-train driving experience. Everyone is busy selling the tickets but, if I could, I think I would have bought all of them myself and had a go at something I’ve thought of previously as a “man thing”!