UKSPF project: Accessing Our Heritage

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Project lead: Denbighshire County Council Heritage Service

Project overview

To enable increased accessibility, use and awareness of two key Heritage Museum Assets in Ruthin, Denbighshire:

  • Grade 1 listed Nantclwyd Y Dre historic house
  • Grade 2 listed Ruthin Gaol – the only Pentonville style prison open as a Heritage Attraction in the UK

These special places welcome visitors for general visits 6 months of the year, and prebooked groups year round. They provide education, informal learning, stimulation, sense of place, connection with the Welsh language and Culture, a sense of pride, wellbeing experiences and the opportunity to connect with the past and each other.

We wish to improve disabled access, better promote these Heritage sites and increase events and activities to engage with wider, and hard to reach audiences. This will enable us to extend the open season and benefit the local economy, create jobs and increase sustainability. We also wish to fund a Feasibility study to inform decisions about the future development of Ruthin Gaol as a large Cultural Heritage year round attraction.

Project update

March 2024

Since October, SPF has funded 2 full-time Heritage Assistants for Ruthin Gaol and Nantclwyd y Dre. To date they have supported the Site Managers in generating footfall and income by being able to open and take part in events/activities which would normally not be doable. For example, opening Ruthin Gaol for 2 weeks over Halloween and being a central part of the annual Christmas Market weekend.

Nantclwyd y Dre has been able to open for the first time as part of the Christmas Markets, ran a Kids in Museums Takeover Day and a Christmas through the ages event. They were also able to facilitate a Wedding Fayre and a wedding.

The project has also been able to appoint an SPF funded Marketing and Promotions Officer, Audience Development Officer and Heritage Gardener. These roles are already making a real impact on the project’s ability to give better and broader access to our heritage by supporting the planning for the new season, identifying new audiences and bringing new volunteers to our sites. An opening event and Easter activities have already taken place.

An accessibility report brief has been written and a consultant procured for both sites. The accessibility report has been written and currently in review to highlight any areas that may need further investigation.

The next part of the SPF project will include a feasibility study for Ruthin Gaol. A brief has already been written, is under review and will be going out under the DCC procurement procedure for consultancy.

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