Women’s History Network – Community History Prize sponsored by the History Press Have you worked with a community group to find out more about the history of local women in the last 12 months? This annual prize of £500 is awarded to the team behind a Community History Project by, about, or for Women in […]
A fantastic thing about being a consultant is how many great projects and teams I am privileged to work with on a daily basis. So you can imagine my pride when, on reading the shortlist for the Museum+Heritage Awards this year, I found 3 clients had been nominated as well as 2 organisations for whom I volunteer.
Top of the list of course, were the team at the Coffin Works, run by Birmingham Conservation Trust, of which I am a trustee. We were up for the Customer Service Award – very fitting given the passion of our staff and volunteers, and my own professional interest in good quality visitor experience. Christine Cushing, one of our excellent FoH volunteers and I were there at the ceremony to represent everyone.
In the Educational Initiative category were the talented Creative Bridges team from Herbert Media, part of Culture Coventry, whose 2-year Esmee Fairbairn-funded project I am evaluating. Their project is focussed on building the confidence and embloyability skills of young adults with learning disabilities, involving them in live commissions and work experience in some of the City’s many creative industries. It’s a fascinating project that is proving very satisfying for its participants. Project manager, Kerrie Suteu was there to collect a HIGHLY COMMENDED for the team.
Staying with Culture Coventry, Coventry Transport Museum were nominated for the Permanent Exhibition Award. The HLF and EDRF-funded project has enabled the Culture Coventry team not only to redisplay all but 2 galleries in their huge venue, but also to overhaul their learning and community programming, and build a new volunteering programme for front of house that may well see them nominated in years to come. I am working with DC Research on the evaluation of this work over the next 2 years. Although unplaced, the team were in excellent company on the shortlist.
NT Croome, whom I have worked with over the last decade whilst volunteering for NT Whose Story? and NT Regional Advisory Boards, were nominated for a Trading & Enterprise award for their innovative Sky Cafe, perched on top of the scaffolding above the current HLF-funded restoration work on the Court. They were HIGHLY COMMENDED, behind the winners, Black Country Living Museum. So what ever happened, the prizes all came to the West Midlands! And it was lovely to see that the volunteers from the Defford Airfield Trust, who now have a museum space at Croome, were nominated for the Volunteers of the Year Award too.
Last of my clients up for an award were the Cadbury Research Library, part of the Special Collections Department at the University of Birmingham, nominated for the Restoration or Conservation prize for their work on identifying, restoring and exhibiting the 9th Century Qu’ranic Manuscripts recently discovered in the Mingana collection. Josefine Frank, project manager, found the resultant exhibition and community interest provided a tremendous boost to the Esmee Fairbairn/MA Collections-funded Mingana Community Engagement activity, and I shall certainly enjoy writing up its effects in my final evaluation report. Sadly, the team went home empty handed, but the shortlist recognition for their conservation staff is well deserved.
So what of the Coffin Works you cry? Did we win?
— Museums + Heritage (@MandHShow) May 18, 2016
“Quirky, innovative, creative, passionate.” That’s us!
Christine and I were over the moon on behalf of the team. Really. If we could have rocketed up there, we would have done. We managed to get to the stage, make a speech, and sit down again without tripping over, and we were so proud and thrilled by the prize and by the outpouring of compliments in person and online for our wonderful staff and volunteers (you can see those in our storify of the event).
The Coffin Works has won 6 awards since we opened in October 2014, for the building restoration, for the collections conservation, for the volunteers. This one, alongside the People’s Choice Award at the Heritage Angel Awards 2015, is one of the most important. A great building, dedicated curators, passionate staff and volunteers are nothing without the support of the public, and a great visitor experience. As a trustee, I work hard with the team to make sure we offer that, and reviews on Tripadvisor and from our peers tell us that it is Top Class. Thanks everyone!
— Coffin Works (@CoffinWorks) May 19, 2016
— Coffin Works (@CoffinWorks) May 18, 2016
— WM Museum Dev (@WM_MuseumDev) May 18, 2016
We’re on our way! I’ve had to be very quiet about this one, whilst it was in development, but I am now happy to report that Pershore WI and Pershore Heritage & History Group (alias the WW1 in the Vale team) are celebrating the award of £10,000 each from the Heritage Lottery Fund First World War: Then and Now programme.
It’s been a long journey and a lot of hard work all round since Maggie Andrews and I produced the first public consultation event back in October 2014 at the Almonry in Evesham, but this grant award means that we can now get cracking on our research and events programme to find out more about life in the Vale during World War One.
Over the next year, each group will follow a particular theme:
Pershore WI members will celebrate the centenary of their branch, founded in November 1916 as one of the first Women’s Institutes in the county. They will uncover the lives of its original members, including Viscountess Deerhurst of Pirton, Mrs Beynon, wife of the manager of the Pomona Jam Factory, and the wives, daughters or servants of engineers, bricklayers, tradesmen and market gardeners in the area.
Pershore Heritage & History Society will be investigating ‘How the Pershore Plum Won the War’. The fruit and vegetables grown in the Vales of Evesham and Pershore were essential to the nation’s food production. Many local residents combined market gardening and fruit growing with other trades such as pub landlord or wheelwright.
The project team will be co-ordinated by Jenni Waugh Consulting Ltd (me!) and supported by Professor Maggie Andrews, students from the University of Worcester, the Voices of War and Peace World War One Engagement Centre, Pershore Library staff and Pershore Town Council,. We will also work with artists, an oral historian and a film-maker to record our discoveries, and have a year’s worth of exciting events and activities planned.
We also plan to produce touring exhibitions, a WW1 Pershore Town Trail and films of Food Preservation Demonstrations. We will also host a number of craft activities for children in the local library and other public events.
A book based on our research, How the Pershore Plum Won the War, will be published by the History Press and available for sale in time for the Pershore Plum Festival in 2016.
Yes! Thank you all you wonderful peeps. As a result of your support and enthusiasm, Birmingham Conservation Trust won the Heritage Angel, Historic England and Telegraph People’s Favourite award for our restoration of the Newman Brothers Coffin Works.
It’s a long title, but a very worthwhile prize that means a great deal to all of us, as you can see from the short film I made of the acceptance speeches made by Simon Buteux and Elizabeth Perkins, respectively our current and former Directors, who have worked to hard to see the restoration project succeed.
The Heritage Angel Awards are organised by Historic England and sponsored by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation. As a result, Sir Andrew’s Foundation paid for 12 of the BCT team to attend the ceremony in the Palace Theatre, London, on 7 September 2015.
Consequently, as well as bringing along the BCT staff, and Jane Arthur, chair of the BCT Board, Simon was able to invite the project manager, Kate Dickson, project architect, Ed Kepczyk, another trustee, (me!), and 3 volunteers: David, Pam and Owen.
The ceremony provided a great opportunity to see the high standard of exciting restoration work taking place around the country. After the show, we mingled with the other nominees at a reception, where we snaffled as many mini-cones of fish & chips as we could, whilst comparing notes and sharing tales of restoration highs and lows.
Two days later, an article about our success appeared in the Daily Telegraph – considering he was interviewing 12 very over-excited people, the journalist did a remarkably accurate job!
We are very grateful to you, our friends and supporters, as well as those of Heritage England and the readers of the Telegraph, for voting so strongly in our favour. Please do come and visit us now so that you can see the award you helped us to win!
As a proud trustee of Birmingham Conservation Trust, I am delighted to report that we have been nominated for one of Historic England’s Angel Awards, specifically the Best Rescue of an Industrial Building Award, for our restoration of the glorious Newman Brothers at the Coffin Works.
However, there is another Heritage Angel award, which we need your help to win: the 2015 Historic England followers’ & Telegraph readers’ Favourite Award will be presented to the project that receives the most public votes.
So please, vote for us by following this link*:
15 years of hard work, fundraising and a £2m refurbishment paid off when we re-opened the factory in October 2014. The semi-derelict grade II* listed industrial building now has a very bright and sustainable future as both a highly-rated ‘time-capsule’ museum, an events venue, and eight commercial units, which are all fully let!
BCT, along with our wonderful team of volunteers, have given the factory a new lease of life and preserved a unique and special slice of Birmingham’s history for the city. Just check out our TripAdvisor Reviews to see how special the museum is!
For more information about the work of Birmingham Conservation Trust, click here.
To visit the Coffin Works for yourself, click here.
*Just for information…
When you follow the ‘vote’ link you are taken to a SurveyMonkey page where you are asked to provide your name, email and telephone number and are asked whether you are ‘a) A Historic England follower b) A Telegraph reader (the Telegraph is one of the award sponsors) c) Both’. Being a ‘follower’ of Historic England means anybody with an interest in their work – i.e. anybody can vote.
You can opt out of being contacted by Historic England simply by not ticking the relevant boxes about this. Although, why not follow them on Twitter @HistoricEngland or on Facebook.com/HistoricEngland or subscribe to their newsletter and find out more about the great work that they do.
For more about the Heritage Angel Awards, follow this link