I am Chris Fisher (not the one of Weston Then and Now fame).  I volunteer at Weston Museum and a large part of the work that I do is connected to the Museum’s Community Gallery. The contents of the gallery changes 3 times a year and showcases local not for profit organisations.

The next exhibition will showcase the Weston super Mare HAZ (Heritage Action Zone) project which is our Town’s £800 K share of a £6 Million national grant from Heritage England to help regenerate town centres. It is a five-year project that will last until late summer 2022. Weston has one overarching HAZ area which takes in Weston town.

Within The HAZ there are two sub areas that concentrate on enhancement of buildings. One area is called the High Street HAZ, shown in pink on the map. The High Street HAZ status and funding of £1.1 million was awarded to Weston by Historic England in 2020 and will run until March 2024. Phase one of enhancement work is at the North end of the High Street and Phase two, the High Street HAZ, is at the south end of the High Street extending to Oxford Street and the area where the old Magistrates Court Building was.

Map of Weston-super-Mare

Map of Weston’s Heritage Action Zone area

Some of the main aims of the HAZ project are :- bringing buildings back into use, developing clear heritage routes within the town centre to enhance existing trails through the town to the beach and train station, opening up new pedestrian access to Weston Museum, Town Square, and the seafront, improving shop fronts and signage in the town centre and a comprehensive programme of community engagement.

Map to show both HAZ zones

Map to show both Heritage Action Zones

My first dealings with the HAZ project came about as the result of some work that myself and some other volunteer colleagues were doing when the Museum got involved in the Know Your Place (KYP) project. One of the first tasks that we were asked to conduct was to add the places from phase one of HAZ to the community layer of KYP.

I touched on the exhibition that the Museum will be staging opening in the middle of May 2022, for my part I will be collecting some oral history interviews from people that have connections to the HAZ areas, images and maps and also researching, the history of some of the buildings and businesses. I will also be trying to find artefacts that can be displayed in the showcase in the exhibition gallery. Another thing I find gives me a great deal of enjoyment is putting together online content for the Museum You Tube channel. The Museum as a community-based organisation is also creating other content that will be an ongoing resource for use by schools and the heritage outreach services that it provides.

Find out more by visiting:

KYP Website

Know Your Place website

HAZ Website

Historic Action Zone website

The exhibition can be seen from 21st May until 5th November 2022.

By Chris Fisher, Museum Volunteer