Chatterley Whitfield Colliery, Staffordshire

Nigel Bowers from Chatterley Whitfield Friends group has been welcoming Heritage Open Days visitors to this stunning site of industrial heritage since 2013. First as a tour guide but quickly getting more involved in organising events and marketing activities.

Why I take part

I would describe Chatterley Whitfield as a forgotten time capsule. I first got involved because of my interest in photography, but the bug got me and I’m still here! I have always been interested in history and now, through social media, we as an organisation are able to share our experiences, ideas and stories worldwide. Heritage Open Days give us the opportunity to meet our many online followers, and also gather new ones interested in discovering more about this iconic industrial site.

What I do for HODs

Chatterley Whitfield is an inspirational site for photographers

I maintain our Facebook and website pages, promoting our HODs event as soon as the dates are released towards the end of March. I register the event itself, and then arrange and monitor ticket allocation through Eventbrite. My role is also to act as the point of contact with the local council, liaising with them with regards to the Site Management Plan. Finally, I am also a guide for Chatterley Whitfield, involved in training our other members to act as guides, and responsible for arranging staffing during the Heritage Open Days festival.

The difference it makes

Over the years our HODs events have evolved, helping us to recruit more members, promote the site outside of the festival, and encourage outside agencies to engage with us, such as BBC Countryfile, Lloyds Bank TV Advert and Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the year. The publicity generated after HODs, with people sharing experiences on social media, is undoubtedly effective.

My favourite moment

Taking a tour over Heritage Open Days to discover how Chatterley Whitfield is preserving the past for the future

Over the years there have been quite a few, like seeing the Lancaster bomber fly over the site  - not planned. Meeting former miners, their relatives and sharing their stories.

What surprised me

The sheer amount of interest that there still is in the site considering it closed in 1993. Our tickets are very rapidly taken up, usually within 12 hours of them becoming available, and some visitors travel from as far afield as the south coast of England.

My top tip

I have found that social media, our own website and local radio stations are very effective when promoting our HODs events. To create a buzz, I would suggest gradually drip-feeding information about your event and keeping that information as up to date as possible. It’s a tiring job, BUT very rewarding!

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