John Quirk, Coordinator of Rushen Heritage Trust, writes about the charity's work to attract new visitors to the southern sheading.
UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man is focused on maintaining our Island as a special place to live, work and visit – ideals that Rushen Heritage Trust share – and we are delighted to be applying for partner status.
Rushen Heritage Trust is all about community. In April 2014, 160 people turned up for a public meeting in Port St Mary Town Hall to discuss whether there was enthusiasm for forming a Heritage Trust.
It was a fiercely wild, wet and windy night but that was the night the Trust was born. There was, indeed, a desire to tell our tales.
From day one, we wanted our resources to be accessible to everyone – within the Isle of Man, and around the world – and so we focused on becoming a ‘museum of the future’, one that leaves behind a bricks and mortar approach and delivers content online and via publications, interactive walking tours and ‘pop-up’ exhibitions.
As a non-profit organisation, our volunteers are our curators, working in different groups – known as Heritage Action Teams – to tell the history of Rushen, on land and on sea.
Our most recent book, Friend or Foe, covered women’s internment in Port St Mary and Port Erin during World War II, while our next book, Living with the Sea, to be published in 2019, is a history of Port St Mary spanning 1829-1979.
Ultimately, we want to attract visitors to Rushen, to explore its many beautiful sites such as Bradda Head, Gansey, Meayll Hill, the Chasms, the Sound and the Calf of Man, and to learn about the area’s history.
We are putting the finishing touches to a new three-year plan, designed to build on the successes achieved over the last five years.
A key element is to further enhance our walking app, which uses beacon technology, giving walkers access to text, images, audio and films while on walks around Rushen.
We are seeking new volunteers to get involved in this project - researchers, writers, photographers, marketers, and those who can offer technical assistance. You can find out more at www.isleofmanwalks.com
While we will continue to be a museum for the future, avoiding having permanent ‘museum premises’, we do have exciting plans to create a physical base, which will act as a meeting place, information hub and research centre for our volunteers, as well as an exhibition space to ‘recycle’ our past exhibits for those who missed them first time around.