NEW BOLSOVER – NEW BEGINNINGS: Engaging communities through heritage
Written by Kim Wyatt
Kim Wyatt is Project Manager for the New Bolsover Model Village Project.
30 June 2018

I have had the privilege of being involved with the New Bolsover Regeneration Project (New Bolsover- New Beginnings) from the very start. The ambitious £11m project (funded by Bolsover District Council and HLF) will see the restoration of 194 former miners cottages built by the Bolsover Colliery Company in 1892 to their former architectural glory, providing spacious homes for modern day living. However, perhaps more importantly is the aim to re-invigorate the sense of community spirit that existed in the “Model” in its heyday. It has been fantastic to see the community grow from strength to strength using the heritage of the area as a catalyst.

With a number of partners we have delivered a range of community engagement activities but one of my favourite events has been taking part in the annual Heritage Open Days festival which takes place in September each year.

Heritage Open Days is England’s largest festival of history and culture, bringing together over 2,500 organisations, 5000 events ad 40,000 volunteers. Every year in September, places across the Country throw open their doors to celebrate their heritage, community and history. What a great way to showcase our small bit of Derbyshire’s fascinating social history. The festival is really well organised and provides excellent promotional material and advice on how to make your event a success.

The first year we held the event (2016) we didn’t know what to expect as the building work hadn’t even started but we had over 30 visitors, many had travelled from outside Bolsover District. On the day visitors were enthralled by professional storyteller Andy Messer who stepped back in time to the Victorian period to tell tales of lucky miners, plucky lads and strange creatures that live in the depths of the earth. We also unveiled the first edit of our community film, “New Bolsover, the story so far”. It was fantastic to watch residents of the Model mingle with visitors who had a real interest in the architecture, planning and social history of the area.

Storytelling at the Heritage Open Day, at New Bolsover Model Village.
New Bolsover Model Village Heritage Open Day Event, at New Bolsover Model Village. Image for the DCHN Blog, Junction Arts website.

Last year (2017) building work was well underway and we were able to offer hard hat tours of work in progress and completed properties which proved to be very popular. The community house at 133 was packed and the Friends group did a roaring trade in homemade cakes, with all donations going back into the community fund. It was a great opportunity to showcase work which we had carried out throughout the year including the production of a new banner for the community (based on the former Mining banners) and the art on model project, both projects were co-ordinated and delivered by Junction Arts and funded by HLF and the Contractor Robert Woodhead Ltd. Former residents were recounting tales of the community spirit that existed back in the 50 and 60’s. This has prompted our latest heritage engagement project entitled “Whispers from the Model” which will also be manged by Junction Arts.

Plans are well underway for this year’s event which will be held on Saturday 8th September and will include the official opening of the new community house, hard hat tours and other exciting activities including a baking competition.

The Heritage Open Days festival has given residents an opportunity to show off their community and to feel proud of where they live. For more information on how to get involved in Heritage Open Days visit www.heritageopendays.org.uk.

Kim Wyatt is Project Manager for the New Bolsover Model Village Project. For more information on the project or to arrange a visit please email kim.wyatt@bolsover.gov.uk