On Bank Holiday Monday we hosted one of our big events of the summer – in fact, of the whole year! Our Vintage Village has been a major part of the Sheffield Fayre, in Norfolk Heritage Park, since 2019 and sees us showcase a whole fleet of historic vehicles alongside objects from our collection, activities, games, live music and more.
We love attending this fabulous free event for so many reasons. Firstly we get to spend a day out in the fresh air and, as it turned out this year (luckily), enjoy some summer sunshine! It lets us showcase vehicles and objects from our museum that are not normally on display to the public, and work with partners such as the Ambulance Heritage Society and South Yorkshire Transport Museum who bring their own vehicles too. We get to be part of a major city event, which gives us a good opportunity to promote our work alongside other local organisations like the University of Sheffield and Sheffield City Council. And the best bit is that we get to share just a taster of our museum experience with a different audience and different communities who may not usually access museums, or who may struggle to afford to visit or engage with heritage.
In previous years our Vintage Village has focused on the 1940s and the emergency services during World War II. However this year we jumped forward a couple of decades to the 1960s, and the era of the Cold War, a relaunched Civil Defence Corps and rapid changes in the organisation of the emergency services. It was also, of course, the age of Swinging London, legendary music, iconic fashions and classic TV, all of which we managed to squeeze in too!
Around 8,000 visitors came to the event and we had lots of really positive engagement with our Vintage Village. People loved interacting with the vehicles on display, especially the ones that they could climb in and on. Younger visitors enjoyed discovering the history of each one, and older folks had a nice wallow in nostalgia as they recognised things they’d known from their own childhood. The same applied in our object handling tent, where visitors of a certain age were in their element reminiscing about police helmets and Z-Cars!
We provided plenty of family activities and entertainment too. Visitors could have a go in our smoke house, experiencing what it was like to be a firefighter trying to rescue people from a burning building, test their strength carrying a casualty, or have a go at using a stirrup pump. There were crafts and painting for kids, vintage games, a star turn from Memorabubble and fantastic live music provided by The Roosters, Miss Lily Lovejoy and Miss Marina Mae. It was a packed schedule and all went down a storm!
Getting out and about in the community, and in particular into places where people may not know the museum or may not usually engage in heritage, is key for us. We already attend many community events over the summer like fire engine open days and vintage rallies, but to some extent these are captive audiences and many people there already know about us. We’d like to do much more in areas where people aren’t so familiar with us.
We’re already working on a pop-up museum that we can take to places such as libraries, shopping centres and community organisations, either just for a day or as a temporary, mobile exhibition. This would include objects from our collection, hands-on learning activities, people stories and historical interpretation and, where possible, vehicles too. We’d also love to work with other museums, particularly smaller, independent ones like ourselves, to share and host touring exhibitions and to work towards, eventually, potential co-creation and curation of exhibitions. If you would be interested in hosting our pop up museum, or are from a museum that would be interested in working with us, please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the meantime, we’ll take a breather from a busy but very successful Bank Holiday Monday, and prepare ourselves for the next event! (But we're not mentioning Christmas...)
Photos courtesy of Sam Chorlton