Category Archives: News

Wirksworth Heritage Centre General Manager Needed

We are seeking a full time General Manager to lead a new operational team and to manage the new heritage centre due to open in Wirksworth in late summer 2018. The successful candidate will have a commercial focus and management experience in a similar multi-service environment, preferably in the heritage, tourism or cultural sector.

For additional information:

  • General Manager Job Description (Word) (PDF)
  • General Manager Person Specification (Word) (PDF)
  • WHC Background Information (Word) (PDF)
  • WHC Job Application Form (Word) (PDF)

If people wish to submit an application, they need to return the Application Form by e-mail by 5pm on 6th April 2018 to

New Wirksworth Heritage Centre Trustee Needed

The Heritage Centre is looking for a new trustee to join its team. We are seeking an experienced individual with relevant expertise to provide a commercial perspective, and to guide the delivery of the organisation’s new commercial operations. If you would like to be part of our trustee team please contact the Chair of Trustees, Sally Barkley Smith at in the first instance.

Closing date 30th March 2018.

For additional information:

Word Document

PDF Document



We want to find out more about what local people think about their area, their community and the plans for the new heritage centre. Our Residents Survey can be found here and only takes a few minutes to complete. Everyone taking part will be entered into a Free Prize Draw and two lucky winners will receive £100 of vouchers to spend in local Wirksworth stores. Closing date for entry 1st April 2018.

Also our latest newsletter is available here

New Wirksworth Heritage Centre Trustee Needed

The Heritage Centre is looking for a new trustee to join its team. We are seeking someone to lead a fundraising strategy and to oversee the development of income generation from grant funding, legacy and corporate giving. If you would like to be part of our trustee team please contact the Chair of Trustees, Sally Barkley Smith at in the first instance.

Closing date 19th February 2018

For additional information:

Wirksworth Festival offers a fortnight of arty festivities

by Sue Cooper

I have been watching each week for the hoardings going up around Webster’s but each time I have been somewhat disappointed. However it appears that behind the scenes things are still progressing and I shouldn’t have too much longer to wait.

This week is the start of Wirksworth Festival and, in the absence of the builders, we have decided to provide refreshments in the courtyard to keep the flag flying in the absence of an artist inside Webster’s. The courtyard would have been a great venue for an outdoor sculpture if we could only have been sure earlier that it would be available.

Down at the shop we have introduced a number of new lines such as pens, keyrings and mugs to try and tempt the many visitors we expect over this weekend’s Art and Architectural Trail and the rest of the festival’s two week span of events. Speaking of the shop, a few extra volunteers have joined us over the last few weeks although we would still like a few more. This means that we are now opening on some Thursdays as well as the usual Friday and Saturday (all 10.30am to 4.30pm).

Thursday seems to be a good day for catching visitors arriving in the town on the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway. A great many arrived over the bank holiday weekend when they were running their final steam-hauled sessions and my husband went along to relive his train-spotting days from when he was in short pants.

This is going to be my last month writing this column. I have just checked and it is fifteen months since I started and though I was quite daunted at the beginning I have really enjoyed my time with it. From next month it will be under the byline of Michelle Laverick who, I am sure, will do a great job and, as a trustee, give a new perspective.

Wirksworth Heritage Centre works on building online presence

By Sue Cooper

There is not much showing above the waterline but things are definitely happening. The Project Manager has confirmed that the building tenders are in and the best one has been selected so it shouldn’t be too long now before they get started. We have also received some enormous signboards from Heritage Lottery Fund for fixing to the hoardings that the builders will erect around the Webster’s building.

The trustees continue to be busy. Our new trustee Michelle has moved our website to a new platform (it could be platform 9 ¾ for all I know about such matters) so that it can be better developed and extended in the future to include online sales. The organisation also now has an Instagram account because, apparently, everyone must now have one.

Sally and Jo, our other new trustee, have been busy scheduling the work required on developing the various activities we are going to offer both before and after reopening next year. On the volunteering front, I was sadly unable to join the two groups working on research and archiving but my colleagues are now well entrenched on the programme. Lorna, another of our volunteers, has also been working on the Artists in Museums programme run by Museum Development East Midlands. As its name suggests, this involves a six-month course learning how best to work with artists to add an extra dimension for visitors to the centre.

With Wirksworth’s extensive band of artists and artistic activities that is an obvious fit for our future plans. In addition, we are contemplating the Wirksworth Festival which is now only a month away on 9th September. We haven’t been able to host an artist this year but we are hoping that we can get involved by doing something in the courtyard if it is not occupied by a builder’s skip. I guess the pace will only get quicker from here onwards.

Wirksworth volunteers learn key skills for heritage work

by Sue Cooper

We have now pretty much cleared the furniture and other non-museum items from Webster’s, with some sent to Bamford’s salerooms in Derby and the remainder sold at Wirksworth’s very first ‘Antiques in the Street’ event last weekend. This went really well for its first year and will hopefully become a regular thing in Wirksworth’s calendar. It enabled us to sell quite a few unusual items from the barn including very old flat irons and a 1943 soldier’s greatcoat but also some items we couldn’t identify. Sadly, the greatcoat included the maker’s name but not that of its owner so we cannot be sure it belonged to Mr Webster.

Things are hotting up a bit for the volunteers. At the end of June, Ruth McKew from our interpretation consultants, Headland, held a morning briefing and training session at Derby Museum’s World Cultures Gallery concentrating on the researching and text writing that will be required before we open again next year. Quite a few of us were very keen to get involved and there were more who couldn’t attend because of holidays though they should get another chance later.

On top of that, the volunteers are signing up for a series of training courses at Derbyshire Records Office, in Matlock, on issues like care of the collection and proper archiving procedures. One of the problems this should help with is that old documents can be very difficult to read as letters were formed differently in the past and words used at the time are often unfamiliar. We should all be very knowledgeable when we are back working with the public in the new centre. It is not only the volunteers who have starred this month. Lucy, our collections manager, has been filmed for a future interlude piece for Bargain Hunt. It will feature the long history of Marsden’s and showing photographs of their items in our collection. Sadly we don’t know when the programme will be shown but the producers must be pleased that we will now be watching each week.

Wirksworth Heritage team continues refurbishment

Although the project team has yet to issue tender documents for the construction work, we have already seen some physical progress. Various walls in Webster’s have been opened up for assessment by the structural engineer and telephone and electricity engineers have also been in too.

The various modifications, over more than a hundred years, that were revealed as the plaster came off have been something of an attraction in themselves. As the Webster’s premises have been closed to enable this work, the heritage centre was unable to play its usual part in the town’s carnival and well dressing activities two weeks ago.

However Sally and Nicole did host a walk for a group of U3A members from Liverpool, which took them around the town and all the well dressing locations. Our hilly terrain was too much of a challenge for some of them but all thoroughly enjoyed learning about the history and techniques of this Derbyshire tradition. This month the volunteers and members learnt more about the project and the work still being done on the collection at a briefing update in the Memorial Hall, hosted by our chairman and the two consultants.

This was very informative and well attended although, personally, I thought there could have been more at the open briefing immediately afterwards. The two new trustees which I hinted at before, Michelle Laverick and Jo Higton Metcalf, have now been introduced and have attended their first board meeting at the project office. Like me, Michelle is fairly new to the town but Jo’s family has been here for many generations. They obviously bring welcome skills to the team, as Michelle’s background is in IT and Jo’s in education, but I can well imagine they will find plenty of other things thrown at them over the course of the project – including the odd turn with us in the shop.

Temporary premises for Wirksworth Heritage Centre Shop

by Sue Cooper

With the impending building work looming, we have been looking for alternative premises. With the kind support of the owner, we have therefore moved our retail and information operations to the empty shop previously known as Granny Smith on the corner of Coldwell Street and North End (Thank you Caroline).

What a fun week it was – cleaning, painting and shifting furniture and stock – all with the great support of other volunteers. Sue Cooper Whilst not quite as central as Webster’s the new shop is highly visible and we hope we can generate more visitors than before owing to its place on the route from the station.  Opening hours are still 10.30am to 4.30pm on Fridays and Saturdays but will soon be increased.

After their research tours around the country our trustees are delighted to have appointed. Headland Design to carry out the exhibition and interior design for the new heritage centre. Headland is a highly experienced interpretive design and heritage practice based just outside Chester. They have worked on a wide range of projects throughout the UK including Saddleworth Museum and the People’s History Museum in Manchester which both really caught the eyes of the trustees.

April means it’s time to send out renewal forms to members along with notification of this year’s annual general meeting, which will be held on May 30 at a venue yet to be decided. The game-changing award from Heritage Lottery Fund will obviously be a major feature in Joanna’s report as chair but the accounts for 2016 may not be quite as exciting. The Wirksworth Book Festival and the Big Book Day were as great a success as we expected and the “two-pub” book quiz did turn out to be trouble-free. All enjoyed the weekends very much and I can’t help thinking that Wirksworth needs more events like this for town residents – and visitors – to share.

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