King and Miller to Kingfisher project – education resources and heritage interpretation

In May 2017 Well Read was commissioned with Red Stone Design to develop a pilot education pack to engage primary schools with the history of three adjoining sites in Sutton-in-Ashfield, north Nottinghamshire: King’s Mill reservoir, Hermitage Pond and Sutton Pleasure Lawns.
The project was part of the King and Miller to Kingfisher initiative funded with £121,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and led by Ashfield District Council in partnership with Nottinghamshire County Council and others. The lottery funding supported the development of architectural plans for the Heritage Centre, and conservation and interpretation works to transform the site into an appealing visitor attraction.
The project process was as follows:
• Research best practice into education resources for heritage sites
• Scope the pack with local schools
• Consult with local community groups about their needs and expectations
• Research the history of the sites working closely with local historians and heritage groups. This included time spent at the Nottingham Archives and local studies libraries in Mansfield and Sutton in Ashfield.
• Identify themes as potential education pack topics and align to the primary school curriculum. The two selected topics were social unrest following industrial development and the history of the water wheel.
• Work closely with Red Stone Design to produce content which complemented their design and visual identity for the project, including devising practical tasks to embed learning and recommending the props needed to support the tasks.
• Pilot the packs with a local school
The client was impressed by the level of research and attention to detail delivered by Well Read and subsequently commissioned us to undertake the wider interpretation for the project. The brief was to develop all the content for three inter-related components:
1. Heritage Centre displays at the King’s Mill site including an interactive learning hub and another display relating to Sutton Pleasure Lawns
2. The content for a series of interpretation panels focussing on the site’s heritage and wildlife
3. The content for an APP focussing on heritage and wildlife
At the outset of this second phase of work we undertook further research into evidence of best practice in heritage attractions, both through visits, desk research and attending a ‘creative heritage’ conference. We also undertook further research into the contribution of the 3rd and 4th Dukes of Portland towards the industrial development on the site, the history of the Unwin family (who brought large-scale textiles manufacture to the town), and the history of the Pleasure Lawns. It also involved liaison with a wildlife and conservation expert.
We submitted a proposed plan for the heritage centres including a number of interactive elements and provided a visual plan of the displays using architecture ‘elevations’ produced by the client.
Ashfield District Council submitted their bid for second stage funding earlier this year and are currently working to meet the HLF’s requirements.

Well Read was commissioned to develop the heritage base information for our education, interpretation, heritage centre and digital platforms in preparation for our second stage Heritage Lottery bid.

Kate quickly grabbed hold of the project, gaining an understanding of the complex topics and suggesting exciting and creative ways to make it accessible to our audiences. She didn’t hesitate in immersing into the project locally, building strong relationships with heritage experts and stakeholders, drawing out vast amounts of information and using it to develop an engaging story about the project site.

We were particularly impressed by Well Read’s commitment, regularly surpassing our expectations with the amount of time and enthusiasm invested into the project considering a challenging brief and limited budget.

Paul Crawford, Project Officer, Ashfield District Council

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