Gainsborough born, actress Julia Deakin officially opened and launched the new and enhanced Gainsborough Heritage Centre on Saturday 3rd September 2016 at 10.30am. This special event began with a few words from Col David Harris the Deputy Lieutenant of Lincolnshire followed by an impressive speech from our new Vice President, Julia Deakin. An official plaque was unveiled which marked the official opening, and the moment will be remembered for years to come by all who attended.
Actress and TV star Julia Deakin reflected on the opening and said: “I was delighted to be asked to officially open the Heritage Centre’s new permanent exhibitions and the opening was a great success.”
Julia shared her connection with Gainsborough during the speech she gave at the officially opening ceremony. “I was born in Gainsborough in 1952, about 100 yards from where the current Heritage Centre site is based here at the Old Post Office. My parents Wyn and Bill Deakin ran shops in the town until the early 70s when they retired to Springthorpe.”
“I attended Gainsborough Girls High School and it was the best thing that happened to me as it was pivotal in gaining my self-esteem, having fun and it was a great education.”
“I remember as a small child the workers from the Marshalls, Roses and Spillers factories in the town and the children all being summoned home from play by the works buzzers.”
“My mum performed with the Gainsborough Operatic Society and I first went to the Kings Theatre on Trinity Street aged 2 and this developed my interest in musicals and I performed in a musical called “Annie Get your Gun” aged 9.”
“I left for Teacher Training (French and Drama) near Manchester, and qualified but I then went to London and worked as a French Translator for GPO. I then did an evening course at Mountview Theatre School in North London and auditioned and received a rare Equity card and became a Professional Actress in 1978.”
“My first years working at the BBC TV Centre required at times for me to loose my regional accent as dialects were not so welcome in those days. Now I am proud to say that I have gone from disguising my roots to being very very proud of them. I have linked up over the years with Lincolnshire Actors Jim Broadbent and Julie Peasegood.”
“I am now finding my old affection and admiration for the little Market Town which gave me a safe and rich education, and yet a real curiosity to explore further afield.”
The Centre was re-opened and over 100 visitors explored what we now had to offer… including our new permanent exhibits and living history characters which made the weekend a glowing success. All volunteers and members involved in the project were proud of their hard work and achievements.
Former Exhibitions Officer James Titley reflected that: “Over the past 10 months we have planned, pieced together, and now built a series of exciting and interesting displays that cover a variety of topics. But perhaps our most significant display is our reconstruction of a typical early 20th Century street; including period shops, a post office/telephone exchange and a house. Our rich industrial past is the focus of the ground floor exhibition room and includes displays of machinery and Gainsborough made products. Our successful research library and archives have also received a revamp and are now housed in their own room near to the archives on the 2nd floor, away from the hustle and bustle. The refurbished Heritage Centre now also houses ‘The Exchange Tea Room’ – a quirky telephone exchange themed tea room where our visitors, or those who are looking for a relaxing atmosphere to unwind over coffee or a cup of tea, can enjoy our light refreshments.”
Chairman Andrew Birkitt said: “I am pleased with the success of the Grand Re-Opening of the new look Heritage Centre. For the first time since moving to the new building we are now able to offer areas on all three floors of the Old Post Office to the general public. There are loads of new exhibits to see, that give visitors a real flavour of the towns past. Of course this has been brought about by massive investment from WREN and ourselves of approximately £45,000, with £22,250 from WREN and the rest raised by our volunteers and numerous supporters to whom we will always be grateful for making this happen.”
Exhibitions Officer Lynne Birkitt continues to look to the future of the Heritage Centre’s exhibitions and said:
“The redevelopment of the Heritage Centre and the increasing of the publicly accessible space has come from much fundraising and grant opportunities, most recently from WREN for the sum of £22,250. As the new redeveloped Heritage Centre grows, we shall be looking at ways that we can make displays more interactive and we hope to be able to secure funding in order to achieve this in the near future. We are also offering an area which is a dedicated changing exhibition room. This will allow for one or several subjects or topics to be displayed to enhance the several room layouts that we have created as permanent exhibitions. The very best way to see our growth and development will be to come and support us by visiting. We look forward to welcoming visitors of all ages and in the future would welcome visits by local groups and schools.”
Brief History of the Gainsborough Heritage Centre
The Gainsborough & District Heritage Association was created in 1994 and is a registered charity (no.1077538) and celebrated its 21st Anniversary in October 2015. The Gainsborough Heritage Centre situated on the corner of North Street and Spital Terrace works to preserve the history of Gainsborough as well as the surrounding villages. (The Old Post Office, North Street, Gainsborough, DN21 2HS). The Heritage Association’s first premises were in the former factory of Marshall’s, before finding its current home at the former Old Post Office and telephone exchange building, which was built in 1904 and opened in 1905. Cliff Bradley & Sons leased the Old Post Office building to the Association from 2008 to present on a peppercorn rent. The Heritage Centre’s ground floor exhibition room was officially opened to the general public in 2012. The Heritage Centre’s new and enhanced permanent exhibitions based on the ground and 1st floor were officially opened by Julia Deakin, Gainsborough born actress to visitors at the grand re-opening weekend in September 2016.
The Centre is volunteer led and encourages people to research and gain a further understanding of the history of our town. Fundraising is essential for the Centre in order to maintain the up-keep of the building and the facilities available to the public such as the archives, exhibition space and library/research room. A £22,250 grant was awarded to the Centre by WREN to supplement the ground and 1st floor £45,000 investment plan to create permanent exhibition rooms and other important renovation work. WREN is a not for profit business that awards grants for community, biodiversity and heritage projects from funds donated by FCC Environment through the Landfill Communities Fund.
The Archive Officers continue to work on the 2nd floor, in order to organise and maintain the storage of archive materials which have and continue to be donated to the Centre by the general public. The Exhibition team will continue to add to the excellent exhibits created by the project in 2016. The volunteers at the Gainsborough Heritage Centre work very hard to preserve, maintain and fundraise to keep a heritage museum in Gainsborough open.