Meeting Michael Guy, Chief Executive, Heritage Trust for the North West

Friends of Pendle Heritage (FoPH) members were invited to Pendle Heritage Centre on 30 April 2024 to meet Michael Guy, Heritage Trust for the North West (HTNW) Chief Executive, who was appointed to the role in December 2023.

Mr Guy gave a career summary covering his legal and heritage background. He advised his first board meeting with HTNW was in February 2024, where he outlined his three focus areas to be: Organisational stability, Stakeholder/Partnership working. New projects – looking to the future.

Members were invited to ask questions:

Future plans for the museum? Rhona Brett, Visitor Experience and Operations Manager, updated members on new interactive pieces installed in the museum for children, including touch and smell, information on herbs, and a colouring station. The Pendle Witches aspect is to be developed. Different exhibitions will be carefully planned by working through the archives, with regular changes on a rotating basis. Garden implements found in the Malt Kiln had been brought to the centre and a simple quiz initiated.

Was the Trust aware of Langroyd Hall, Colne? No. However, Mr Guy was interested to know who owned it, although he felt the Trust was not quite there to take on another building. He explained that charities can’t take over where a local authority is involved.

Availability of a Tourist Information site? Mr Guy explained the move to seek information had transferred to online, with Lottery funding being made available for museums to go online, where information could easily be updated. Mr Guy said that HTNW could improve on this with a better website. It takes time and money but is on a ‘to do’ list for Rhona and her team.

Have you any plans for the Pendle Heritage Centre Garden? The garden is seen as a massive asset. It was hoped that plant sales could be improved and that more land at the back could be worked on. A polytunnel had arrived and would be soon in use. Mr Guy was keen to carry on the wellbeing aspect of the Garden.

Safety of the dilapidated old greenhouse? As this poses a ‘health and safety’ issue, Mr Guy confirmed the greenhouse is scheduled for demolition, although he was unable to confirm what will replace it.

Did HTNW intend to use the original planting plan and is the garden listed? The garden is historically important, though not listed. Listing the garden had previously been investigated, however, it was a decision for Historic England, who had visited the centre in April 2024. Previously, it had been felt unnecessary to list the garden, but to continue with new managed planting and to use produce from the garden in the kitchen at the centre. It was noted that any reports need to be submitted in the same format that English Heritage require.

Availability of the centre for Friends’ events? The current use of the Barn is financially rewarding to Pendle Heritage Centre, and for the foreseeable future it is unavailable for use by the Friends.

Dawn, Chair FoPH, advised that the Friends were looking to hold an annual summer event in the Cruck Barn, even with its limitations. The Methodist Church had been very accommodating and whilst numbers for some talks had been low, it was felt that this was due to the choice of speaker/subject, rather than the venue.

Closure of the Book Room? Disappointment was registered the centre no longer offered the sale of specialist books. The Friends continue to sell pre-loved books in the café.

Before members departed, Dr Chris Holmes sang the popular “Knocker up” song.

Dawn thanked Mr Guy and Rhona Brett for their time, who offered to stay and talk individually to anyone.