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Mansfield’s heritage brought to life by students

Posted: 19 July 2021

The Mansfield Townscape Heritage Project (MTHP), which focuses on Victorian and Georgian buildings in a well-known conservation area and historical shopping street, has been brought to life thanks to students at West Nottinghamshire College.

A guided history tour was launched in June by students on the Level 3 Diploma in Travel and Tourism, which saw the college’s principal, governors, tutors and representatives of the Townscape Heritage Project, discover the history of a number of buildings and businesses along Leeming Street and the Market Place.

After being approached by the MTHP, students were tasked with putting together a professional tour, suitable for members of the public to engage in, where they could learn more about their town’s history and business origins.

Since March, the group have worked together researching the history and discovering about popular places such as Mansfield Palace Theatre, the museum and old library, The Bowl public house and the elaborate number 11 Leeming Street, built in 1901 as one of Jesse Boot’s first chemist stores.

The group’s pilot tour, just before the college closed for the end-of-year, was a great success, and included film and TV media students who recorded the event, while guests enjoyed hearing the history of historic Leeming Street and its stunning architecture.

The tour group – Brooke Marshall, Molly Salkeld, Tamara Case and Sadie Barlow – has spent months putting together a professional business plan for the guided tours, taking into account the costs associated with this kind of tourist business, a cash flow analysis, how to script and deliver the historical information in an engaging way and how to market such an enterprise.

The group also presented their idea to the college’s governing body before finally liaising with Caroline Daghash, Townscape Heritage Officer and Pete Brown, the Community Participation Co-ordinator for the project.

The MTHP, which received £849,100 raised by National Lottery players, is being delivered by Mansfield District Council in partnership with Mansfield BID, Nottinghamshire County Council and West Nottinghamshire College and is part of a wider vision by the council to improve the appearance and vibrancy of the town centre and to put Mansfield on the map as a good place in which to live, work, invest and visit. 

The circa £1.3m project is helping local businesses and property owners in the area carry out property repairs and refurbishments to enhance the architectural quality of their buildings and is in the second year of a five-year programme of conservation, community engagement, and educational events for the town. 

Travel and tourism tutor Dan Wilcockson, said: “The first tour really couldn’t have gone better.

“The students really showed off their tour-guiding skills, along with just how hard they had researched their town, and presented the facts in a very engaging way, injecting their own personalities and humour into it.

“Two different classes worked effectively together on this project and they’ve not only succeeded but pretty much exceeding their own expectations of how well it went. We’d be delighted to continue working with MTHP on developing the history tours in the new academic year.”

Cllr Stuart Richardson, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration and Growth at Mansfield District Council, said: “This is a fantastic achievement by these talented students and exactly what the community engagement programme of the Townscape Heritage Project aims to achieve.

“We have a beautiful, historic town centre with some gorgeous buildings and it is great that we have young people taking an interest and pride in their town in this way.”

Community Participation Co-ordinator Pete Brown said: “This partnership with West Nottinghamshire College is a classic win-win – the students gained from the opportunity to work on a professional commission and we have been learning what Mansfield heritage means to young people in the town.”

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