Skills of bygone days celebrated at Gainsborough’s Heritage Festival

Images from the Heritage Skills Festival

Gainsborough was a hive of activity on Saturday for the grand finale of the Heritage Skills Festival as residents, children and visitors flocked to the town.

People were given the opportunity to see skilled craftsmen showcasing the rare traditional crafts that are thriving in the region and some even had a go themselves.

Laurence White from Shedtime based in the town, held a leather workshop at Gainsborough Old Hall, describing it as a dream come true. He said:

“All the participants have been brilliant and have been really interested in learning and enjoyed the workshop. As someone who is based in Gainsborough, it is nice to be able to be able to get involved in a festival that is on my own doorstep.

“I hope the festival becomes an annual event. For me personally hosting a workshop in the Old Hall is a dream come true. Delivering a heritage skills workshop in a heritage setting doesn’t get better than this.”

The Heritage Skills Festival has been organised by West Lindsey District Council as part of the National Lottery funded Townscape Heritage Initiative, which is underway to restore Gainsborough’s historic shops. 

Families also gathered at The Old Nick Theatre, for a free Traditional Crafts Workshop, which was very popular with children and their families. They loved learning how to weave baskets and mats, make peg dolls, embroider a bookmark and even learnt how to stitch woodland creatures.

Natasha Bowden and her daughter Freya (9) from Gainsborough said it was great fun. Natasha added:

“We have taken part in lots of the different activities, and it has been quite relaxing. It is the first time we have been to the Old Nick Theatre and would love to come again for a full tour.”

Pauline Cobb (75), her daughter Simone (47) and Granddaughter Anabel Ward (8) all took part in the crafts. Pauline said:

“It’s my first time making a peg doll and I think it is a wonderful idea and I will treasure it.”

Annabel has made peg dolls before and said they were fun and easy to do. Her mum added:

“It has been really nice and friendly, and everyone has been so helpful. I may have to buy some pegs to have another go at home.

Aria Marrone (7) said here favourite activity was weaving a basket. She said:

“I have really enjoyed it and I used bright pink colours. It has been lots of fun.”

Eloise Dobbie (6) also took part in the basket weaving. She said:

“I made a basket using lots of different colours and it was really good.”

Brothers Jacob Farrar (12) and Isaac (10) took part in a number of activities. Jacob said:

“I love doing crafts and I liked weaving the basket - it was quite easy to do but tricky at the same time.”

Isaac added:

“I made a stuffed animal, the orange fox as I love the colour. It is challenging but I like a challenge. I have enjoyed it.”

Debbie Short, her husband Richard and their two children Evelyn (3) and Sebastian (7) weaved their own mats, using colourful ribbons.

Debbie said:

“It has been a good day. We came especially for the weaving as Sebastian wanted to do that. It is not often we do crafts at home, and it is so good to get out and do something different and Sebastain has really enjoyed it.”

For those visitors who were mad about Bridgerton or devoted to Mr Darcy, they were able to watch or take part in a regency dance class in the upper great chamber at Gainsborough old Hall. The session was led by The Grantham Danserye, who took participants through time as they gave a masterclass in a range of dances.

Merle Austin and her Daughter Susan Lugg from Lea took part in the sessions and were beaming with smiles afterwards. Merle said:

“I thoroughly enjoyed it, I just wished I was younger, but it is good for older people to help keep you physically active.”

Her daughter added:

“It was absolutely brilliant - I smiled all the time. It has been inspirational and not something you see often. It has been great for socialising as well.”

Mike Spicer and his Wife Lynne set up the Grantham Danserye. Mike who is chairman of the group took participants through the dances step by step. He said:

“It has been brilliant to be part of the Heritage Skills Festival. We have loved it. everyone who took part was smiling and it was an enjoyable experience.”

Mick Grundy, Gainsborough old Hall Manager said he was delighted to be part of the Heritage Skills Festival as the Old Hall hosted an open day to support the event.

He said:

“We have worked collaboratively with West Lindsey District Council to support the festival and it has been absolutely fantastic for the local community to see some of their local history. This weekend has enabled so many people to see what is on their own doorstep and shows that heritage is for everyone.”

Theresa Workman, Heritage Skills Festival Coordinator at West Lindsey District Council thanked everyone for supporting the week-long festival. She said:

“It has been a pleasure to team up with Gainsborough Old Hall, The Old Nick Theatre, Crafts ‘n’ Coffee Gainsborough and the fantastic tutors like our own local Laurence White of Shedtime, Grantham Danserye, along with the whole array of East Midlands talented artists who shared their skills last Saturday. Thank you to everyone involved and we look forward to seeing everyone again in 2024.”

This free event has been made possible by Gainsborough’s Townscape Heritage Initiative, which is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and also by the Government’s Levelling Up Fund. We would like to thank all players of the National Lottery.

For more information about out Townscape Heritage Initiative visit: Gainsborough Townscape Heritage Initiative


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