The Smithy Heritage Centre in Eccleston, St Helens, has worked on an exciting project to collect the memories of local people. The former blacksmiths shop, transformed into a local history museum by Eccleston Parish Council, received £5,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund All Our Stories programme to create an archive of personal stories.
We held relaxed sessions at venues around Eccleston for people to come along for a cuppa and a chat, to reminisce about how the area has changed, tell tales of local characters and pass on stories from their families. The images and stories have been collated to create this website, a travelling exhibition which will tour schools and community venues this year, a Teachers’ Pack of learning resources, and the book, Memories of Eccleston, meaning this vital information will not be lost or forgotten.
Over the last few years, the Smithy has undergone a number of building improvements. We were awarded over £8,000 from Arts Council England and Museum Development North West to improve the building so that we can better care for and protect our collection. We now have new double-glazed windows which are also covered with UV film, and a CCTV system, and new handmade outer doors.
As you know, the Smithy is free to visit, but whenever we hold an event where we charge for tickets, refreshments, or our 50p family-friendly activities, all profits go into a ringfenced pot to look after the building and collection. To apply for the grant money we needed a proportion of match-funding, so we just wanted to let you know that we couldn’t have done it without you!
Every raffle ticket, cup of tea, slice of cake and pint of Real Ale that you buy helps us to achieve our dream of making the Smithy the best it can be and keep it going for many years to come.
We are thrilled to announce that our rocking horse toy had been selected as one of the artefacts to tell “A History of Lancashire in 70 Objects”!
Although we’re in Merseyside now, most of our visitors (and staff) are Lancashire at heart, and as we are part of the original County Palatine, we were eligible to enter.
A History of Lancashire in 70 Objects is an 18 month partnership between Lancashire Heritage Learning, Museum Development North West and Lancashire Life magazine. The project aims to engage communities across the County Palatine with objects and stories held in their local museums, galleries and heritage venues. It also aims to engage with new audiences and promote visits across all participating venues.
The project is part of the 70th anniversary celebrations for Lancashire Life magazine and will involve museums, galleries and heritage centres across the old county palatine – from the river Mersey in the south up to Coniston, and west to Trawden, Littleborough and Ashton-under-Lyne. Heritage venues across the county palatine were invited to host community engagement events for visitors to select one object from their collections that tells something of Lancashire’s long and fascinating story.
Thank you to everyone who voted to help select our item from our selection of favourites.