Saturday 8th September





Heritage Open Day 2017

Retford’s 10thAnnual Heritage Day on 9 September, featuring ‘Dukes and Outlaws’, was enjoyed by visitors and townspeople alike. It started splendidly, with a welcoming peal of bells from St Swithun’s Church and the launch of the exciting new Heritage Trail Guidein the Museum, where a Medieval Court also took place.The Guide is available free from the Museum, The Hub, the Library and Bookworm.

The Community Choir ‘popped up’ in the Library, the Museum and St Swithun’s, which also hosted the U3A recorder group. Robin Hood (aka Mike Mahoney), with his bow and arrow, popped up everywhere! Talegate Theatre performed Rotten Retford: a Tale of How Bassetlaw Borough Became! twice in the Town Hall, which also saw the Youth Theatre from Retford Little Theatre in The Rapid Tales of Robin Hood. Rattlejag Morris dancers added to the entertainment around the town.

There were fascinating places to visit, including Trinity Hospital, Retford Railway Society at the Station, and backstage at our two theatres, allnot usually seen by the public.  

Passengers on Ken Thompson’s Heritage Bus and on the Seth Ellis narrowboat had views of Retford and its surroundings from different perspectives. During the day nobody went short of refreshments, available all over town, including from St Swithun’s, St Michael’s, The Grove Methodist Church, The Hub, and many more locations.

Thanks are due to everyone involved in making this a thoroughly interesting, fun day in our beautiful town.

See Gallery for pictures

Heritage Open Day – Saturday, 10th September 2016 – ‘Singing in the Rain’

Retford Civic Society’s flagship event, Heritage Open Day, got underway and was a great success despite the weather early in the day. The Community Choir and the pupils from St Joseph’s R C Primary School were literally ‘singing in the rain’ to greet the stagecoach, laden with damp dignitaries as it entered the Square pulled by four fine horses. The event marked the recognition of our coaching heritage and the importance of The White Hart as a coaching inn.

Dick Turpin was around to make sure the good and great left with empty pockets!

Thankfully the weather did improve as the day progressed.

There was a wonderfully diverse programme on offer throughout the town. The Civic Society had manned a stall in Carolgate the weekend before, advertising the day. This year social media also played an important part in ensuring everyone was aware of the event.

The theme this year was ‘Rebels and Pilgrims’ and we were pleased to welcome All Saints Church, Babworth as a new participant this year. Illustrated talks by Rick Brand and Anna Scott took place at the Church where there was an opportunity to hear about the Reverend Richard Clifton, a leader of the Separatists. They became known as the Mayflower Pilgrims and sailed to America in 1620 with men and women from Bassetlaw.

Sue Allan also gave a talk entitled ‘William Brewster – What Made Him a Pilgrim?’ at the Denman Library.

The day’s events started with a quarter peal by the bell ringers at St Swithun’s Church.

 In the Town Hall the TaleGate Theatre presented ‘Rotten Retford – A Tale of How Bassetlaw Borough Became’. It was a 40 minute ‘Horrible Histories’ style production all about the corruption of 1800’s politics that lead to the creation of the hundred of Bassetlaw. It was a fun filled family production, really enjoyed by young and old.

Outside Bassetlaw Museum there were old vehicles offering the ever-popular trips around town, together with the stage coach which made numerous tours for a range of delighted passengers.

Two stalls were manned all day by Civic Society members, promoting the day, as well as the work we do throughout the year.

Despite the inclement weather, there were lots of people in town and a great atmosphere prevailed. Well done to everyone who helped and took part in any way to make our ninth Heritage Open Day such a great success. Retford was really on the map!





Heritage Open Day -  12th September 2015


This was Retford Civic Society’s flagship event, now firmly on the calendar for many people and the eighth year that we have organised it.


There was a wonderfully diverse programme on offer this year with eleven buildings being freely open to the public.


Banners and posters had been displayed throughout the town and the Civic Society had manned a stall in Carolgate the weekend before advertising the day.


The event brochure, produced in partnership with Bassetlaw District Council, and the national website helped to attract visitors to the town. As did the competition for places on the Seth Ellis (kindly donated by the Chesterfield Canal Trust) and its publication by the Retford Times together with an article in Retford Life.


The theme this year was entertainment and we were pleased to welcome the Retford Little Theatre as a participant this year.


The day’s events started with a quarter peal by the bell ringers at St Swithun’s Church. In the town centre there were street entertainers from the past with stilt walker, juggler, unicyclist, dancers and the ever popular Punch and Judy as well as performances by the Worksop Miners Welfare Band.


Retford Community Singers offered free workshops and performed original songs based on Retford – its history and characters. The words gave a glimpse of the past – to the time of Thomas Tootell, the first postman in town and to the early Clarks laundry workers and the old lamplighter.


Dick Bolton’s Yesteryear Cinema attracted audiences to the Denman Library for the opportunity to see old films and newsreels of a bygone era.


Outside Bassetlaw Museum there were old buses and vintage cars, offering the popular trips around town.


Two stalls were manned all day by Civic Society members promoting the day and the work we do throughout the year.


The town was buzzing on a grey September day. Well done to everyone who helped and took part in any way!


Heritage Open Day 2014

Retford’s annual Heritage Open Day, organised by the Civic Society, took place on Saturday 13 September with a host of activities and buildings open to mark the occasion. The theme this year was ‘The End of an Era’ and concentrated

on the fifty years before the start of WW1. The staff at the Museum dressed up appropriately and had previously made available a costume information sheet for general use. A suffragette was even seen moving around town!

Twelve buildings freely opened their doors to the public: Grove Street Methodist Church, Denman Library, St Michael’s Church, St Swithun’s Church, The Masonic Hall, St Joseph’s R C Church, Trinity Hospital, The Majestic Theatre, Retford Railway Station, Retford Town Hall, Goodwin Hall and a new venue - The Well Baptist Church. Most venues had special events taking place: organ recitals,

refreshments, special displays, guided tours, talks and more. The Bassetlaw Museum and Tourist Information Centre acted as Headquarters for the day.

As well as the venues available to visit, there were a number of things happening around town. The bells of St Swithun’s rang out to start the day with a quarter peal. A 1890 Limonaire 98 key organ entertained the crowds in the Market Square and

Bosun, a twelve year old grey 17.3hh Percheron – heavy horse – paraded through town and visited St Swithun’s Church and the Museum. A Town Crier, Martin Allan, was resplendent in red and gold, ringing his bell and making announcements.

Retford Community Singers celebrated Retford’s Heritage in a series of specially commissioned songs composed by musical director Janet Wood. She was intrigued by some of the characters, buildings and events from the past after viewing the

Civic Society DVD ‘Discovering Retford’, and wrote about Thomas Tootell, the first postman in town, Mr Caunt the lamplighter and the women from Clarks Laundry and Dye works. The songs also reflected more shadowy events associated with the White Hart where Dick Turpin is said to have planned his highway robberies! It was wonderful to see the orange-clad choir moving about the town and singing at various

venues throughout the afternoon.

Ken Thompson again provided his ever-popular old buses for trips around the town, which proved very successful and brought back happy memories for some and a new experience for the younger generation.

Sam Glasswell, Curator of the Bassetlaw Museum, gave a talk in the Library Meeting Room entitled ‘Women’s Suffrage in the Late 19th & Early 20th Century’, and was appropriately dressed! In the evening a talk was given at The Well by Adrian Gray on ‘Prophets, Martyrs & Pilgrims – the Christian Heritage of our Region’.

The Chesterfield Canal Trust took trips along the Chesterfield Canal on their boat ‘The Seth Ellis’; this enabled visitors to see at first-hand how the lock system works.

Our two stalls, on Grove Street and Carolgate, were manned by some of our enthusiastic members, who volunteered to share information with visitors and locals alike. Thanks to them we were able to make people aware of what we do and

sign up new members. Your contribution is much appreciated.

Heritage Open Day was once again a great success.

The weather was fine and people came from far and wide. The town was buzzing and everyone had a good time. It makes all the effort worth it, as the Planning

Committee get together again to organise the next one!


Derek T


Heritage Open Day 2013 

Retford’s annual Heritage Open Day, organised by the Civic Society, took place on Saturday, 14 September with a host of activities and buildings open to mark the occasion. A traditional Building and Craft Event took place at the Bassetlaw Museum, St Swithun’s Parish Church and the Denman Library. The event featured 24 exhibitors and was a great success, providing a unique opportunity for all ages to meet and talk to skilled craftsmen and women involved in restoration and conservation. The event also enabled the public to find out what opportunities and courses are available and to ‘have a go’ at a wide variety of skills from stone-carving to lacemaking. Jason Mordan, Senior Heritage Officer for Notts County Council, gave an excellent, wellattended talk on ‘Local Buildings and their Materials’.

Our sincere thanks go to all the craftspeople who generously gave their time to attend and demonstrate, and to architect Alan Wahler from Notts Building Preservation Trust, who kindly supplied us with so many contacts and offered such good advice. The gazebos and tents were generously supplied by Bassetlaw District Council and Retford Lions.

A big thank-you to all those who helped erect and dismantle for the day: we couldn’t have managed without you!

At the bottom of the page you will find a full list of Exhibitors


 Civic Silver was once again on show at the Town Hall and was very popular.

A lot of visitors came to the museum to see the Wattle and Daub and Tile-making demos.

Thanks to Pam for arranging that- having them come for free was a bonus!

Trinity Hospital

This was the best yet Heritage Day. Residents helped once again and between 220 and 250 people visited.

St Joseph’s Church

Kevin printed up information on the history of Roman Catholicism in Retford and put it on display, along with vestments used in services. 35 people visited and were very impressed with the building.


More than a hundred people visited to see the displays of photos, but the photo-scanning session was not very busy.

Jason Mordan’s talk on the history of building materials with local references was well attended.

Ken Thompson

The vintage buses were well-used and much appreciated.

The Grove

All the food was eaten, although it seemed quiet, so they must have had a steady stream of visitors.

Railway Society

A good advert in Retford Life resulted in a good attendance, many arriving on the heritage coaches.

Majestic Theatre

About 150 people visited and joined the tours which took 45mins. Some visitors were from abroad. Unfortunately, there was a rehearsal booked for 4.30pm, so apparently at 4pm the last people had to be rushed. Hopefully this can be avoided next year.

Town Hall

200 visitors saw old photos of previous mayors on display, as well as the town silver from the museum. Many people came from away, 40 came from Selby, including a retired employee of the Council. Comments sheets helped give information for a future event. The Town Hall is booked for 2014, thanks to Ian.

Chesterfield Canal

The Seth Ellis was fully booked after a slow Saturday start. Sunday was busy too.

The Masonic Hall

Barry reported more visitors again- it’s growing year on year. Thanks to Sam Glasswell for her help with the displays.


We’ve listed below, for your interest, the details and contacts of exhibitors:

1 STAINED GLASS www.mdsstainedglass.co.uk



4 CALLIGRAPHY www.bev-powis-calligrapher.co.uk



6 CHURCH TEXTILES www.church-textiles.co.uk



8 TRADITIONAL ROOFING AND LEADWORK paul.lovell@hotmail.com

9 STONE MASON www.thefringeworkshop.co.uk


11 HERITAGE HUB www.heritageskillshub.org


13 BONSERS RESTORATION www.bonsersrestoration.co.uk

14 BLACK DRAGON FORGE BLACKSMITH www.blackdragonforge.co.uk


Mordan www.notts.gov.uk

16 COMPANY OF ARTISANS www.companyofartisans.co.uk

17 WOODTURNING AND SCULPTURE www.sculptor.co.in

18 FURNITURE MAKER www.iansaville.co.uk

19 BOOK BINDING AND RESTORATION www.sycamorebookbinding.co.uk

20 CALLIGRAPHY Horace Staniland helenstaniland@hotmail.co.uk

21 LACEMAKING www.inspiredlacemakers.moonfruit.com

22 SPINNING Cheryl Scholes simply-sheepish@live.com


23 RIDGEWAY FORGE ridgewayforge@btinternet.com

24 STONEMASON www.markstaffordmasonry.com