History comes alive this May in Lancaster

Louise Bryning looks at events and activities which will celebrate Local and Community History Month

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 3:46 pm

Heritage organisations across Lancaster district are springing back into action as the country celebrates Local and Community History Month this May.

The month aims to increase awareness of local history and encourage communities to participate in activities and events which coincides with the local Heritage Network’s purpose set up in 2013, originally to co-ordinate local activities marking the centenary of World War One.

The Network has dozens of members from museums and historic buildings to voluntary heritage organisations.

The history of ballad and song in the North West is the subject of an online event run by the Regional Heritage centre this May.

During the pandemic, Network events have been reduced but many members have moved talks, exhibitions and other activities online so people can enjoy heritage at home.

A guide is available at: https://visitlancaster.org.uk/things-to-do/heritage-at-home/ or https://exploremorecambebay.org.uk/inspire-me/heritage-at-home/

Online activities will continue this May as many Network members prepare to open their doors and events to the public once again.

To mark Local and Community History Month, Lancaster City Museum will hold a Community Museum afternoon on Facebook on May 11 at 1pm: https://www.facebook.com/lancastercitymuseum

Learning from the Past partners who met in Lancaster prior to the pandemic. An exhibition which resulted from their work is now on Global Link's website. Photo by Daniel Tierney.

A similar event last year proved popular as people shared their finds, treasures, historic objects and collections with others.

During lockdown, many people have taken up gardening, metal detecting or mud larking, or finally got around to sorting through their own family heirlooms.

In doing so, they have uncovered objects which provide a connection to the past. The Museum invites people to post a picture on the Facebook event page and tell their stories.

Museum staff will try to identify any objects or give extra information about them.

The Judges Lodgings garden will be the setting for family activities from May, subject to the government roadmap plans.

Plans are being made for the re-opening of the City Museum, subject to government restrictions and guidance, and in the meantime it continues its exhibitions online with the current offer, Lancastrians of Science and District Lines, running until June 27.

The Museum had planned to host Global Link’s Learning from the Past exhibition earlier this year but this too was moved online, although it is hoped it will go ahead from July 16-September 5.

In the meantime, much of the exhibition, which explores the international peace movement after WWI, can be viewed at: learningfromthepast.net

Turner Prize winning artist Lubaina Himid’s intimate and emotional exhibition, Memorial to Zong, is at Lancaster Maritime Museum until September 2021.

Architect Elaine Blackett Ord inspecting work at the top of Lancaster Prioery's clock tower. A short film about the restoration project will be launched in May. Picture by Darren Andrews.

This powerful re-interpretation of the history and brutality of the slave trade remembers the Zong Massacre which happened as an overloaded slave ship crossed the Atlantic in 1781. It’s available to view online while plans are made for the museum’s re-opening.

May will also be an exciting month for the museum’s History Detectives Club for children who will look at how Lancaster-born ‘Dinosaur Man’ Richard Owen established the Natural History Museum.

Subject to the Government roadmap, the Judges Lodgings will open soon – on May 21.

Two new additions are a Breastfeeding Room and a small Chill Out Room for

visitors with Special Educational Needs and Disability who might need a quiet space. Backpacks can be booked from reception so children can enjoy their visit using characters, toys and activities to guide them around the house.

There will also be a free handout craft that families can use during the visit and take home with them over May half-term.

Garden activities will include croquet on the lawn, hoola hoops, bean bags, family boules and kids watering cans.

The volunteer-run Morecambe Heritage Centre in the Arndale Centre plans to re-open on May 18 with an exhibition celebrating Morecambe Football Club’s centenary.

During lockdown, the centre has changed its window displays seasonally.

Lancaster Civic Society continues its series of online talks on May 12 when the subject will be 20th Century Housing and the Regional Heritage Centre at Lancaster University is staging an online event on May 15 entitled Ballad and Song in the History of North West England.

Four pre-recorded presentations will be available and there’s also a live Q&A discussion with the speakers who are accomplished performers.

The presentations include singing and even a bit of clog dancing!

For full information and how to enrol, visit: https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/regional-heritage-centre/events/ballad-and-song-in-the-history-of-north-west-england

Lockdown has curtailed much but the restoration of an historic Lancaster landmark – the Priory clock tower – has continued and should be completed in May when scaffolding will be removed.

Traditional materials, skills and techniques have been used and a short film about this major restoration project will be available on the Priory’s social media to mark Local and Community History Month.