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York Museums Trust’s third Heritage Hunters project concludes with celebration at York Explore’s Acomb Library

DATE: 30 April 2024

Launch event will be hosted on Tuesday, 21 May from 3:30pm at York Explore’s Acomb Library

York Museums Trust is delighted to have successfully completed a third Heritage Hunters project, in partnership with York Explore, residents of Acomb and Westfield, artists and local heritage groups. From the remarkable story of early nineteenth century poet, Charlotte Richardson, to the history of Quaker horticulturalists, the Backhouse family, the resident researchers have provided a fascinating insight into this area of York.

York’s history as a Roman, Viking and Medieval centre is well-known, along with many of its Georgian streets and Victorian industries. However, there are some parts of the city’s social history which are much less well known. Heritage Hunters works with residents in areas of York that have a wealth of history waiting to be uncovered. This year we have brought together residents, artists, organisations and heritage groups, to look into the past of the Acomb and Westfield areas of the City of York. The project supports residents to find out more about their surroundings and to share it with their friends, neighbours and community.

The project was launched in September 2022, initially around the Hull Road area of York, followed by the Groves. Many people were interested in joining the project, some wanting to share their own memories, stories they had already found, or to learn how to explore their local history. Together with York Explore, York Museums Trust produced a programme to support residents in researching their interests, and provided events where they came together to meet with neighbours.

Our resident-researchers have met together over the past year to share their experiences in Acomb and Westfield, to learn more about the history of the area by using the archives held at York Explore, and to spend time visiting other heritage sites in York. They have now completed their work and York Museums Trust has produced a magazine that will be distributed in Acomb and Westfield and which will also be available online on its website. The magazine will be launched at York Explore’s Acomb Library, showcasing a wonderful insight into some of the history and people of the area, researched and written by neighbours and friends along with some collection from York Explore Archive.

Philip Newton, Community Participation Manager, said: “This is the third year we have been involved in this project and each time we find that residents, artists and the local community are unpacking more and more of the unheard histories of York. In Acomb and Westfield we have unearthed so much rich new understanding of the history of this neighbourhood. It has been brilliant working with York Explore, the communities and people of this wonderful area. We hope that people will either join us at York Explore’s Acomb library on the afternoon of 21 May or have a look at the online magazine.”

On Tuesday 21 May at 3:30 pm the public are invited to the launch of the magazine at York Explore Library in Acomb to help mark the conclusion of this year’s Heritage Hunter’s project. The magazine will provide an opportunity for resident-researchers’ discoveries to be shared. All residents and those active in the Acomb and Westfield are welcome!

Highlighted stories

Charlotte Richardson (Poet) – illegitimate child, raised in poverty who became a poet – researched by Juliet Burton

The Backhouse family – Horticulturalists who travelled the world and had a renowned nursery in Acomb – researched by Cecilia Bainton

Childhood home which was owned by Sidney Melmore, who worked out exactly where in York John Goodricke made his astronomical discovery about a variable star – researched by Jenny Holmes

Seven Wonders of Acomb – researched and illustrated by Sam Dredge