April 30, 2015, by Jacqui Storey
Students contribute to local heritage tourism
Laura Simpson, Senior Practitioner in Heritage Tourism at Nottinghamshire County Council is our latest guest blogger. Laura approached Jacqui Storey in Community Partnerships in the Autumn of 2014, looking to recruit volunteers from the University to help with the creation of an audio tour. The audio files were to complement a walking trail relating to the history of the Quaker movement which has its origins in the town of Mansfield. Laura tells us more about the project.
Not many people realise that the Nottinghamshire town of Mansfield is the birthplace of the Quaker religion and the site of Mansfield’s new bus station is located where the Old Quaker Meeting House and burial ground once stood. Emerging out of the religious and social turmoil of the Civil War years, the Quakers played a prominent role in the history of Mansfield from the 1640s onwards. George Fox, the founder of the Quaker Movement began to form his first ideas about the religion whilst walking past St Peter and St Paul’s Church in 1643.
There are many places of interest throughout the town linked to the Quaker religion so it seemed fitting to install a memorial plaque to the Quakers once buried on the site of the new bus station and to develop a heritage trail to engage people with this hidden history.
The students spent an average of 2-3 hours a week carrying out research into the links between the Quaker movement and specific locations in the town and were supported in writing and recording of audio material for the trail by the Mansfield Local Studies Library and Ralph Holt, a local historian. This involved two trips to Mansfield to learn more about the town and its Quaker heritage. The Mansfield Quakers themselves, who have also supported the project, still meet within the town and are now known as the Religious Society of Friends. The Community Partnerships team supported the project by hosting meetings and recording sessions and through an introductory talk on the Quaker movement by Associate Professor in the History of Modern Christianity, Dr Frances Knight.
The project resulted in the unveiling of the memorial plaque and launch of the trail at the Bus Station on Saturday 25th April. Around 40 people came to the event and the students were each presented with a framed certificate by Deputy Leader of the Council, Joyce Bosnjak. From my perspective, I benefitted from the positive experience of working in partnership with University and young people which in turn supported the development of the heritage tourism within the county. I saw the students benefitting through real-life project experience, team working in an applied setting, learning audio recording skills and learning more about a local community and escape from the ‘student bubble’.