Heritage Open Day 2017

On Saturday 9th September, as part of the national Heritage Open Days weekend, the Wisbech High Street Project hosted an event which focussed on promoting the heritage of the High Street and letting people around the town know more about the aims of the 4 year project.

The Gap site at No 24 where a building collapsed 30 years ago was opened up, allowing passers by to see where the building had been and reminisce about the last shop there – “Cooks Butchers”. Many people shared their memories of working there, visiting friends who lived there and also of buying their meat from the shop which had sawdust on the floor! One very special visitor was a relative of the last butcher from the Cook family, to have ran a shop at No 24. She recalled childhood memories of the building and very kindly brought her family album along to our stand at the Wisbech and Fenland Museum. As one of the aims of the project is to document the history of the HIgh Street, I will be meeting up with her again for more stories and to see more of her wonderful family photos.

There were two tours of the High Street and despite the pouring rain in the afternoon, each tour lasted an hour. Visitors, many of whom had travelled to Wisbech for the Heritage Weekend all enjoyed looking up at the buildings and learining about the history of each one. Many people who had lived in the town all their lives enjoyed sharing memories of the shops but many were also surprised by the architectural details that they had simply never noticed before.

The exhibition in the basement of the museum offered visitors the chance to see the Museums existing High Street exhibition, but also offered a chance to see some images, adverts and architects drawings they had not seen before. A slideshow which was on loop all day included over 500 High Street images spanning over 130 years of buildings and events on the High Street, was enjoyed by all.

Throughout the day we were able to discuss the aims of the High Street Project and our plans to work with property owners and tenants to invest in these historic buildings and undertake essential repairs, maintenance and in some cases major building works.

The day would not have been possible however without the support of some amazing project volunteers who gave up their Saturday to help. Andy Ketley and Garry Monger were fantastic, talking to people about the project, the history of the buildings and the activities that we have planned over the next 4 years including the archaeological investigations and tunnel recording. Mike Forrest took some fabulous photos as seen on this page and Counciller David Oliver gave up his morning to tell visitors all about the plans for the gap site at 24.

Everyone we spoke to on the day expressed their support for the project and we look forward to hosting another event next year.

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