The Search Is On To Find Kirkham's Love Stories

January 11, 2022

A strange figure is soon to be seen pacing up and down Kirkham’s historic high street on the hunt for love stories.

The ‘Bride of Kirkham’ is a storyteller searching for local folk to share their heart-warming tales of the people and places that make Kirkham so special.

Where did you fall in love? Who did you fall in love with? What treasured buildings and places have a special place in your heart?

‘Kirkham With Love’ is a new interactive heritage project launched as part of Kirkham’s status as one of Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zones (HS HAZ).

Historic England funding of £1.8m – a key part of Kirkham’s £10m regeneration masterplan – is being used to help give the high street a new lease of life by re-energising historic buildings and creating a new Cultural Programme celebrating the town’s heritage.

Storyteller and performer Izzie Major has been commissioned to help deliver the first year of Kirkham’s HS HAZ Cultural Programme along with visual artist Craig Sinclair.

Izzie is now taking on the role of ‘The Bride of Kirkham’ as she hosts a series of pop-up events to gather local loves stories.

Izzie explained: “The Bride of Kirkham is a travelling storyteller, travelling from place to place with a listening ear and an open heart gathering love stories and weaving together a rich tapestry of tales.

“I will be hosting a series of events in local churches, on the street and at heritage sites. I will also be doing tea and tale sessions where people can come along, have a brew and share their beloved tales of the town with me.

“Now, as a bride, I am, of course, really interested in love stories and these could be stories about people or places, special locations – say a school, a pub, a place where friends gathered years ago – that mean so much to people.

“Perhaps you attended a wedding party at Hillside Restaurant or tied the knot there yourself. Maybe you made a life-long friend in St Michael’s Church or had a night to remember in one of Kirkham’s former nightclubs? Is there a place you love in Kirkham – well, tell us why it is so special.

“We will gather all these stories and form a treasury of special tales which we can exhibit in the town.”

To help gather the love stories, a number of special post boxes will be erected around the town to allow local people to write and share their stories for inclusion in the project. Stories can also be emailed to kirkhamstorytellers@gmail.com

A number of the stories will be published, and some animated during workshops with local schools. The artwork created will then be exhibited in Kirkham during April and May.

THE ‘KIRKHAM WITH LOVE’ EVENTS INCLUDE:

• Tea and Tales – Join these storytelling sessions (initially taking place virtually via Zoom) and share your memories with The Bride of Kirkham:

(Session 1) January 20, 11.00am (via Zoom). The Bride will be in the Pink Room at Hillside. Join a virtual chat and share your memories of this fabulous building and the events you attended there. Book your place now CLICK HERE

(Session 2) January 20, 7.30pm (via Zoom). Enjoy a virtual storytelling night on the town. Come along, let your hair down and reminisce over Kirkham’s nightclubs, pubs and the fashions of the times. To book CLICK HERE

• Pink ‘Kirkham With Love’ Post Boxes – From January 21, two post boxes will be installed at listed buildings on the high street, the Charity Girls School (the former Lloyds/TSB) on Poulton Street and one other. Post your stories and memories of growing up and living in Kirkham. Post boxes will also be installed at several internal locations including St Michaels Church, Kirkham Community Centre, schools, Kirkham Library and day centres.

• Art Installation – There will be an opportunity to help create a town centre installation during February, where individuals will be able to purchase a wooden heart from participating businesses, then write a message on it and add it to the installation by tying it to a ribbon on one of the participating buildings on the high street. All funds donated to Kirkham and Wesham Club Day.

• Declarations of Love – Individuals will also be able to send a declaration of love to an individual, or the town, which will then be displayed in a participating shop window in February.

• St Valentine’s weekend event – Join in the launch of ‘Kirkham With Love’ on Saturday February 12 by visiting the special stand on Market Square (between 11am – 3pm). You can purchase wooden hearts here, meet The Bride of Kirkham and listen to a few of her tales.

‘Kirkham With Love’ has been organised by Kirkham Cultural Consortium as part of the town’s HS HAZ Cultural Programme. The Consortium was set up by Fylde Borough Council and is made up of local residents tasked with helping develop a new cultural vision for the town.

Fylde Council nominated representative for the project, Councillor Liz Oades said: “I know there are many stories to be shared, as I’ve heard so many of them over the years. I encourage as many people as possible to come forward to share them to show what a wonderful community Kirkham is and how romantic so many of our residents can be!”

The £80,000 HS HAZ Cultural Programme is an important part of Kirkham’s four-year Kirkham Futures regeneration masterplan. Together with funding from Historic England, Fylde Council and Kirkham Town Council, the masterplan is backed by multi-million pound funding from the Government’s Future High Street Fund (FHSF).

This will fund major improvements to Kirkham’s town centre streets, open spaces and shopfronts as well as re-energising historic high street buildings and creating new community facilities. It is hoped the programme of new cultural events and initiatives will not only inspire local creativity but improve health and wellbeing through increased community and social engagement.

Supporting the launch of ‘Kirkham With Love’, Historic England’s Tamsin Cooke said: “Heritage is really about people and the places they care about, and through storytelling we can connect communities and bring the past to life.  We’re looking forward to hearing the tales shared through this project and we hope lots of local people get involved.”

And if you are interested in joining Kirkham’s Cultural Consortium to help shape the cultural vision for the town email helen.juste@positiveplacemakers.org.uk

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