by Sue Cooper
The financial report for the carnival/bank holiday weekend is now in and it was clearly a huge success for Wirksworth Heritage Centre. We had nearly 500 visitors who bought refreshments and other goods, which really swelled our coffers. This was very encouraging to all those who worked so hard over the three days.
Work is continuing on the collection, which is still housed in the old Silk Mill building. Our band of volunteers have all undergone training on the skills necessary for cataloguing, labelling and packing, conservation and environmental control of all the different kinds of items held there. This work looks set to go on for some time yet as there is so much history within the mill walls.
My own role, beyond staffing Webster’s, is entering details of items onto the standard museums database system, which gives me the opportunity to learn a lot more about the collection. Among the artefacts are those reflecting Wirksworth’s key role in the production of red tape for the civil service during the Victorian era. It always seems strange to me to think that Wirksworth’s mills churned out enough tape for the whole of the British Empire. Further work on the provenance of many items will soon be required as their source is unknown and many photographs are undated or of unidentified persons.
Visitor numbers in the town are increasing now we are in midsummer and we are opening Webster’s on Sundays in addition to the existing Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. A series of town walks is soon to be launched too, to show off the history around the town’s streets and ginnells. Perhaps I should call them jitties, as many of the local people seem to call them. Next month the trustees will be making their pitch to the Heritage Lottery Fund for funds to enable the redevelopment to go ahead, but we still need to raise money from other sources too. More on that, perhaps, next time!