An internal shot of one of the Williamson Tunnels

BLOG: Why does heritage matter?

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Every September as part of Heritage Open Days, venues across the country open their doors and give visitors a sneak peek of places they may never have seen before. Liverpool City Council’s Head of Heritage Preservation and Development, Alan Smith, explains why heritage should not be consigned to the history books.  

Once again, September will play host to Heritage Open days where heritage venues, sites and historical organisations are opened up to the public to raise awareness of history that is often literally on our doorstep.

From 8 – 17 September, residents will have the opportunity to visit churches, museums, historical buildings, or conservation areas and parks, and bask in their history, be it good or bad. You can become engaged through seeing a simple monument or statue or become engrossed in a heritage item that may hold historical importance.

But why is heritage important, why does it matter?

If you take the recent case of the Crooked House Pub in Dudley that has now been destroyed, local people are enraged at the loss of the building, even calling for the unlikely scenario of the pub being rebuilt brick by brick.

We must try to save as much of our history as possible. The reason why? Everyone wants to live in beautiful areas. People need to feel a sense of belonging in the area they call home, to have a strong sense of place. Heritage is the pathway to this ambition.

Very few cities have as strong a sense of identity as Liverpool. However, this identity can be enriched further through heritage open days by simply visiting historical sites, or viewing amazing artifacts, statues, or buildings in your area. We often find a sense of pride and value as we learn about aspects of our history that can only embellish our own identity.  People can realise that they are important, that they can find their own historical threads, and to learn that they matter.

History and heritage belong to us all. Liverpool is fortunate in being richer in history than many other places, and in possessing over 2,500 listed buildings. We should use our history to write new narratives on historical engagement and create new uses for venues that are culturally rich and embellished with stunning historical content.

Use Heritage Open Days month to search for the heritage where you live. Liverpool is awash with history. Look in your local area, then in your neighbourhood, and finally around our magnificent city for opportunities to engage with your history. Enjoy your heritage, embrace it with open arms and interact with the diverse and sometimes uncomfortable facts you may encounter. And don’t forget to look in your local parks or green spaces and conservation areas.

If the area you live in is ‘not like it used to be’, or if the present is not as good as the past, then think how you can support and improve your area. History is the ‘pit props’ of our future, and our historical buildings and parks the gold seams of our shared past, but we must continue to support their upkeep and maintenance to ensure they survive and thrive. They are there to show how we fit in and can improve our health and well being by providing a sense of pride and belonging.

Heritage does not need to be stuffy, ancient, and not for you. Heritage is what each individual value for themselves. It can be recent history such as in Liverpool’s musical heritage in Eric’s and the Cavern, the Pier Head Landing stage, or one of the best buildings in the world, St George’s Hall.

Embrace September’s Heritage Open days and find your own heritage seams and thread.

Make heritage yours, own it.

To find out more about venues across Liverpool City Region opening their doors as part of Heritage Open Days, head to the Visit Liverpool website.

Liverpool Waterfront