Tunbridge Wells BC Schools' Heritage Project - Historic Shop Fronts

Tile showing the doorway of an 18th Century shop in Cranbrook

Inspired by German restoration of the traditional, pre-war townscape and architecture of Dresden (that's a place for a future EHTF visit), I felt that in England we don't do enough in schools to develop pride in our heritage. To ensure its preservation, the Heritage Champions' job needs essentially to educate our young people and harness their enthusiasm to understand their local built inheritance.

I felt also that, as education is about sowing seeds, the project might even address the skills shortage by suggesting an eventual career prospect for some, as conservation architect, conservation planning officer, master mason, carpenter, etc.

I began by going into schools, explaining the work of Heritage Champions. Into this was slotted the project. In order to introduce the local built inheritance, I decided to sponsor the recording, first of all, of historic shop fronts through children's accurate drawings of them. These went on show in the Town Hall and prizes were awarded for the best examples.

Children learnt about building styles, were involved in visits to examine and draw interesting shop fronts. The project grew to include literature/writing, craft work (models as well as tiles), religious studies, IT and music.

I introduced the project by means of a slide-show of local historic shop fronts, to illustrate just what I meant and provided a list of literary texts and writing ideas, as well as of historic shop fronts in the borough.

Linda Hall, Cllr and Heritage Champion for Tunbridge Wells BC