I’ve just spent an enjoyable three days visiting Hastings and St Leonards, taking part in talks and walks and visiting various buildings open during the annual Heritage Weekend.
Apart from the fascinating history and architecture of the towns, I was struck by the enthusiasm and friendliness of the people I met. It was hardly possible to stop to look at a map and get my bearings without someone asking whether I needed any help, and people seemed keen to talk about their town whether they had recently moved to the area or had been here all their lives.
But I do wonder whether people in the town actually talk to each other. Too often, the timing of one Heritage Week event clashed with another, or there wasn’t enough time to get from one end of the town to reach the next.
I realise that public finances are tight and that money probably is not available for anyone to co-ordinate events, and that it is largely down to individual volunteers who are focused on their own building or event. But for organisations and individuals to get the most out of the effort they are putting in, can I ask that for next year’s event, that people think of talking at the planning stage to other organisers and try to arrange timings so that visitors can get to as many things as possible?
And can organisers think about better signposting, particularly where there is more than one possible entrance to a building?
Yes, I am thinking of you Hastings Town Hall, where the entrance in use for a tour was the one with the sign telling me there was no public access. And Yes, I am also thinking of you St Mary in the Castle, where I watched an elderly person struggle up the slope to join those of us waiting to go to Barefoot Opera’s (excellent) production of Carmen, before someone discovered that we had to enter through the restaurant on the promenade level.
A few small changes like these could help enhance the charms of Hastings and St Leonards.