Wirksworth's shops and cafes make UK history by showcasing their heritage in Open All Hours Street Museum

Trail-blazing shops and cafes in Wirksworth will showcase their history in window displays in the first event of its kind in the UK.

Monday, 28th June 2021, 4:11 pm

Fifteen businesses will participate in Open All Hours Street Museum by converting one of their windows.

The displays, which launch on July 15 and run for ten days, will tell the stories of town shops from the Georgians to the 1970s.

Bill Bevan, a spokesman for the initiative, said: “Visiting museums isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so we decided to bring the museum to where you can have a cup of tea. The displays will evoke different times from the 1700s to the 1970s at a time when the UK High Street is under threat from Covid and internet shopping. It is the first time such an ambitious exhibition has been attempted in shop windows anywhere in the UK.”

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Wirksworth market place in 1940.
Wirksworth market place in 1940.

Visitors to the town can explore the prize-winning milk churns of Marsden’s Agricultural Suppliers, the bottles of Charles Wright’s wine and spirits merchant, and recipe books for medicines in Payne’s the Chemists. All are businesses that were founded in the 1700s.

Saint Betti will ring to the phrase ‘Suits You Sir!’ as 1960s’ men’s clothing styles will adorn its window, while customers to Le Mistral will be asking for four candles with its display of 1930s’ hardware tools.

There will also be displays of wartime sweets, 1930s radios, bales of 1950s cloth in what was once the Co-op Drapery and 1970s shoes.

The museum is free and there is a trail map available from local shops that features a Price Is Right challenge. Guess correctly prices of consumer goods to be in with the chance of winning return tickets on the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway and annual passes to Wirksworth Heritage Centre.

Rob Stamper, the bard of Middleton, will lead a guided tour with poetry inspired by Wirksworth’s historic shops on July 17. Tickets for the tour can be bought at www.wirksworthheritage.co.uk in return for a donation to Wirksworth Heritage Centre.

T’Owd Folk Morris will be dancing on Saturday, July 24, from 2pm, on the penultimate day of the Open All Hours Street Museum.