The idea of a small extension to Fewston Church started in 2004. There was much thinking and discussion about what type of extension it should be and what it would be used for. We agreed that the building had to give us flexible space, it should be in keeping with the church, it had to be of high quality and its focus would be the heritage of the Washburn Valley. A successful application to the Heritage Lottery Fund was made in March 2008, requiring an Interpretation Plan, and in February 2011 we opened our doors!
The Centre is used for many things but its key purpose is to promote the unique heritage of our Valley. We want to tell visitors about the area and help local people understand, influence and contribute to their own heritage.
The Centre is owned by Fewston and Blubberhouses Parochial Church Council (PCC) which applied for grants from the HLF and other bodies. The Centre has a part-time coordinator, but essentially is run by volunteers and led by a Management Committee, which reports to the PCC. The committee meets monthly and all its members are responsible for a different aspect of the workings of the Centre.
There is a lot on offer when you visit. The permanent exhibition at the rear of the church tells the story of the Valley and explains the history of the church. Each year there are 3 temporary exhibitions in the Heritage Centre . These temporary exhibitions focus on different aspects of the Valley’s rich heritage. Topics covered include War and the Washburn, Hostelries, the Washburn Valley Show and geology and natural landscape of the valley. Each exhibition has a programme of events, which typically includes heritage walks around the Valley, workshops, courses, special suppers, and short talks. Most of our events are popular and do get sold out, so if you fancy coming along it’s wise to book early.
Every weekend the Centre becomes our Tea Room, which provides the vital income we need to pay our bills. Like everything else, it is run by volunteers.
We currently have over 70 volunteers, without whom the Centre would simply not exist. As the Centre has developed, the range of roles and skills required to keep it going has grown and grown. No matter what the role is (and some are more visible than others), all are equally important. If you would like to learn more about what is involved and would like to lend a hand – we would love to hear from you!