As part of a part of Dorset Architectural Heritage Week and the Europe-wide Heritage Open Days initiative, High West and High East streets were closed to traffic for a day in September to celebrate High Street Heritage Day which enabled people to enjoy the high streets without traffic.
Shire Hall and the Dorset County Museum also ran free events as a part of tours that ran throughout the day – attracting more than 2,000 visitors came to the closed streets, with 1,162 visitors going to Shire Hall and 1,080 visitors to the museum.
Feedback back from those who visited included:
“It was like being tourists in our own town”
“A Fab day!”
“Events like this have the potential to revive High East Street’s economy”
Dorset Architectural Heritage Week has been running for 25 years and Dorchester attractions such as Shire Hall have taken part in previous years’ programmes, but this is the first time that High West and High East Streets were closed to traffic to allow people to enjoy Dorchester’s best street without cars, noise and pollution.
The event was run by Dorchester Heritage Committee with assistance from Dorchester Blue Bade Guides and Dorchester Civic Society. In addition, numerous events were run independently at Shire Hall throughout the week with the Sunday programme also coinciding with St Peter’s Church’s Forgiveness Project events.
High Street Heritage Day – which took place on 16th September – was coordinated by Kate Hebditch and Alistair Chisholm on a voluntary basis, with support from Steve Newman, Dorchester Town Council. The time contributed by volunteer guides, stewards, marshals and organisers amounted to about 80 hours.
Next year’s festival runs from 13 to 22 September and the theme is “People Power: Then, Now, Always.” 2019 marks the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo massacre when British forces attacked a massive pro-democracy rally.