Heritage Trail plan for St Albans
A proposal to complete a Heritage Trail in St Albans City to highlight its remarkable historical buildings, famous people and events has been put forward.
The intention would be to educate people about the City’s past and draw more visitors to help boost the local economy while providing a safe outdoor post COVID-19 activity.
Among the major attractions likely to be included in the trail are the Cathedral, the medieval Clock Tower and Verulamium Park, the site of Britain’s largest Roman settlement.
Other places of note include the River Ver, an outstanding example of a rare chalk stream, St Albans Museum + Gallery and Fishpool Street.
The request to implement the trail as soon as possible was recommended by St Albans City and District Council’s Community, Environment and Sports Scrutiny Committee.
Councillors on the Committee called for bespoke, cast iron plaques with standalone information on each of them to be installed on or beside important historic sites across the city.
In addition, they said the potential for sponsorship and funding should be examined so the trail could be better publicised.
The recommendations will now be considered by the Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community, Heritage and Public Realm.
In another initiative, the Committee also asked the Portfolio Holder to look at the possibility of creating more outside space for café seating at St Albans Museum + Gallery.
This could allow more people to make use of the facility and help the Museum recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic by boosting revenues.
The Committee also called for outdoor space at the District’s leisure centres to be fitted with marquee style covering so exercise classes could be held with minimum risk of spreading Covid-19.
Councillor Annie Brewster, Chair of the Committee, said:
The Committee were keen to propose eminently sensible post Covid-19 recommendations which I very much hope the Cabinet will take forward.
The completion of a long-desired St Albans City Heritage Trail is a particularly exciting proposal. One of the main reason St Albans won two Heritage Lottery Fund grants for the Cathedral and the Museum+Gallery nearly five years ago was because the city has a unique selling point: 2,000 years of visible history within a square mile, They wanted the Museum+Gallery to be the shop window from which visitors would be able to get outside and explore our remarkable heritage.
Successful plaque-led Heritage Trails already exist in Wheathampstead, Berkhamsted, Hemel Hempstead and Hertford. St Albans has the advantage of being very easily accessed from London making it a popular visitor destination to discover centuries of British history in just a day.
As we recover from the devastating impact of the Covid-19 emergency on our local economy, it is vital that we attract more visitors who will spend money in our shops, restaurants and other businesses. Improving the heritage trail is an additional way of doing that.
The Committee was also very keen that our heritage venues, like the Museum + Gallery, and our various leisure centres could expand their outdoor areas to create more space to allow increased outside dining and safe socially-distanced activities..
I am pleased that the Portfolio Holder has agreed to look at these recommendations and I hope that they will result in prompt action as we recover from the Covid-19 lockdown.
The Committee met on Thursday 16 July and a webcast of the event is available here: https://stalbans.public-i.tv/core/portal/home.
Picture: an example of an information plaque on the Wheathampstead Heritage Trail.