Thank you volunteers!

St Albans Signal Box volunteer group

St Albans Signal Box volunteer group

As part of the celebration of England’s volunteers this week, the Architectural Heritage Fund would like to shout out a special thank you to all volunteers involved with the projects we have helped to fund.

To shine to their fullest extent, heritage projects rely on volunteers of all kinds. From hard laboured renovation work and behind the scenes upkeep to tackling the day-to-day efforts of running a charity, volunteers make the seemingly impossible a reality.

Take a quick peek into two of our projects and the volunteers that make it possible:

The Clitterhouse Farm

Recently funded by AHF, the Clitterhouse Farm, saved from demolition in 2014, retains a history of resilience and survival. Dating from the 16th century, the farm house is recognized as an ‘Area of Archaeological Significance’ potentially as the site of an original Viking homestead and was the home of the influential suffragette Gladice Keevil.  In WWI, the site’s use as an international airport contributed to Handley Pages’ creation of the first aircraft bombers.

The remaining heritage buildings, a set of Victorian farm building from 1896, are being transformed to help foster a sense of pride in the heritage, arts and culture, as well as developing activities around food growing, skill-sharing, and sustainability. Providing a positive centre for the community, volunteers hold some of the most important positions in the organisation, including running the community café and garden events.  Volunteers who like to put their hands to work are essential to the building renovations and the gardening team. 

Having recently won a £18.5k by the Mayor of London’s Greener City Fund to develop a community garden and a £5000 viability grant for the farm buildings from the Architectural Heritage Fund, the Clitterhouse Farm is well on their way to reaching their redevelopment goal.


Coffin Works

At the edge of Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, the Newman Brothers Museum at Coffin Works was transformed from a semi-derelict building into a slice of preserved industrial heritage. In 2006, the AHF contributed a grant to help create a mixed- use development and a working visitor attraction.

The purpose built 1890s factory was the home of the Newman Brothers coffin furniture manufacturers. Becoming internationally known, the fittings were known for high quality, appearing on illustrious coffins such as those of Joseph Chamberlain and Winston Churchill. The company was in production until 2000. At the grade II* listed building, visitors have the chance to learn the history of the Newman Brothers by immersing themselves in the full original stock of working machinery.

Volunteers at Newman Brothers contribute speciality skills and in helping create a unique working environment. Bolstering the professional team by delivering an optimal visitor experience, volunteers act as retail assistant volunteers or a tour guides. Other opportunities exist for collection conservation and research volunteering. Excitement and loyalty for the project can be seen in the video created by Museum Manager, Sarah Hayes.

These projects provide but two insights into the vast contribution volunteers make to sustaining our heritage. Thank-you to you all!