Pump Room & Heritage Experience
What is the Buxton Crescent Heritage Experience?
The project will imaginatively and theatrically bring to life the story of Buxton, using the Pump Room, The Crescent and the town as its stage. Needless to say, everything leads back to the water.
The BCHE encompasses the Assembly Room, The Pump Room, a series of rooms on the ground floor of the Crescent and potentially other spaces in the town, indoor and outdoor.
The expected approach might have been to focus on the spaces and somehow knit them together, leading visitors through each one, much as you might expect in a museum or National Trust property. Instead, the spaces will serve a creative programme – much in the way a festival might do – except in this case, the content of the programme will relate directly to the story of Buxton and will be accessible year round.
What do you mean by a programme?
By a programme, we don’t just mean a series of events. Some elements of the programme will be semi-permanent, some temporary, some will be one-off. By taking this approach, the offer at BCHE will be dynamic and offer something fresh each year by exploring new aspects of the story and by embracing new influences from our partners. The programme could follow a theme each year.
Examples of semi-permanent elements may include exhibitions, art installations, trails, tours and immersive, atmospheric experiences. Techniques may involve the use of sound, light projection, theatre, dressing up, mobile technology, gaming, interpretation panels. The important thing is that the programme communicates the story and engages target audiences.
What impact will it have?
The project will play a significant role in the Buxton’s next phase of development as a thriving spa town. It will offer something new and innovative for both visitors and residents.
We want to build on Buxton’s growing arts and festival reputation, but to do this in a way that involves local people. We do not want BCHE to appear aloof. We will make sure that storylines include those of ordinary people and that our messages resonate with the realities of today. We also do not want BCHE to work to the exclusion of other cultural assets in the town. Instead, we want to work collaboratively to create best value for visitors and residents.
In terms of the sector, our model of heritage interpretation and urban regeneration will lead the way by bringing together the best of what the arts and heritage worlds can offer.
How will it be done?
At the moment we are in research phase. This involves gathering stories and stimulus for storylines and the content of the programme. Some of this will be done by historians (professional and volunteer), some through community based activities and some will come from our continuing dialogues with partners.
The next step will be to engage the services of an interpretation designer who can begin to use the research to build the programme. This will be done with local partners and community to provide first class story telling that harnesses and develops the town’s pride in its history and passion for the arts.
When will it all be ready?
To allow us to involve local people and partners we will build the experience incrementally. There will be no grand opening. Instead we will use the spaces available to us at each stage of the development. This also allows us to organically grow the team of staff and volunteers required and to learn and adapt as we go.
The first space to come online will be the Pump Room. Essential building and conservation work will be carried out by May 2016, making it accessible. But, it will not be the finished product. We intend to allow the public access to it in its unfinished state until Jan 2017. That way you get the chance to get acquainted and to put your stamp on it. For this period, it will provide space for a temporary exhibition, events, consultations and a bit of taste of what’s to come.
Once completed in spring 2017, the Pump Room will be an atmospheric, historical tea room with a twist. Its beautiful well will start you on your journey of discovery, with theatrical vignettes that use performance, light projection and possibly sound. The Pump Room will also act as the shop window to the wider experience – where you can find out more – as well as refresh yourself with tea and cake!