Over the past 7 years MoM has been able to develop a strong base of work with pupils from local schools and older people from sheltered housing, church groups, and across the community. Different groups of participants have worked with HLF, Nidderdale AONB, Heritage Schools, and Harrogate Borough Council. We have set up a website and social media presence, which are developing a large online audience, with conversation involving people with Mashamshire links from all over the world.
Our volunteers have produced and delivered talks and displays on a range of topics and produced a number of booklets. We are working with the County Records Office, local history groups, schools, businesses and individuals to catalogue local sources.
MoM has two significant archival collections: one of 25,000+ Masham legal documents from 1770 to 1950; and the other of over 2,000 photographs by George Hare, a local farmer, preacher and newspaper correspondent active from the 1950s-1990s. We also hold a collection of objects of interest, oral interviews, photographs and maps.
The need for premises
The overwhelming barrier to MoM’s development is that we currently operate with no office or public space. Our papers and artefacts are in storage, and we have no regular or direct way to meet and share our activities and archives with local people or visitors. For six months in 2013 MoM was donated by a local family business the use of an empty shop, and this physical centre made a massive impact on delivering our aims to protect, explore and celebrate Masham’s heritage.
This premises enabled us to:
- set up learning workshops and displays;
- build ongoing relationships with older, isolated local people;
- recruit a number of volunteers for archiving and project delivery (many of whom would work with us again if there were space for them do so so)
- offer a safe, clean space to focus on our original documents.
Masham currently has neither a town museum nor an archive; nowhere for local people and visitors alike to find out about the area’s history, culture, businesses and families. This is a significant omission for a town of such unique heritage, historical importance, and growing visitor profile. Heritage education is the primary strand of MoM activities as we aim to showcase the long social and environmental heritage of Masham, and how Masham has survived and remained sustainable when other comparable rural market towns have not.
A heritage centre would enable MoM to reinstate all of the work mentioned above, with an expanded focus on learning and sharing opportunities. We are especially keen to provide a venue that is comfortable for older residents, enabling them to share their memories in comfort, and in the knowledge that their lives will be of interest to people far afield and those not yet even born.