Celebrate history – Bedford
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In Bedford, a range of partners including the Council, the local Business Improvement District, the Chamber of Commerce, Bedford College and local history/conservation organisations decided to celebrate the history of Bedford High Street as a way to reconnect people to the High Street. They organised a range of activities for all age groups focused on the history of Bedford’s High Street.
Examples of activities that have been organised and will be organised in the future to celebrate the history of the High Street include history taster days, a history exhibition, a puzzler for under 10s and town centre walks. A High Street Learning resource, developed for Key Stage 2 students, explores Bedford High Street from the medieval age to the present day. It provides a package of lesson plans and information that can be used in geography, history and citizenship classes.
How did they do it?
The overall project, called Townshape Heritage Initiative, is a collaboration of the above mentioned partners. They are organised in a steering group with representatives from all major project partners, chaired by a designated THI Project Manager. Together, the members have all the expertise needed for the project.
Part funding (£850k) for the project was obtained via a Heritage Lottery Grant, a major national grant for heritage projects, while the rest of the costs of the 5-year project is covered by the common fund. The majority of the money is for capital costs of key buildings on the High Street. Just over £100k is allocated to training of local people in heritage conservation and history promotion events. Individual events budgets are typically less than 5k. For example, the puzzler costs were about £3,500 for an estimated 500 participants, while the Learning Resource was budgeted for £6,000 with a potential reach of almost 20,000 students.