New book captures the history of Hexham’s high Street through objects
20 Nov 2023
Items bought over the years in shops on Hexham’s historic high street, and the unique stories behind them, have been documented in a new book. Objectivity, a history of Hexham High Street through Objects.
Devised and written by Penny Grennan, the book will be launched at a special event at Hexham Library on November 29th 7-8pm and local residents are invited to attend.
The book is part of the Hexham High Streets Heritage Action Zone scheme and aims to shine a spotlight, through personal stories, on the shops, past and present, that have been doing business in the town over the years.
During her research for the book Penny interviewed local people to find out more about the objects they had purchased and hear the stories behind them.
Penny said; “The objects in the book all tell a story: where and when they were bought or made, who bought them and why, what we are reminded of every time we see, use, wear, or hear them.”
Penny explains that one of her favourite items in the book is actually a garlic press and while there is nothing unusual about the item it is the story behind it that always makes her smile.
Penny added: “The lady I interviewed told me the tale about how she always gives a garlic press to friends or family members on the birth of a child, not explaining why they were receiving it. It isn’t until a few months down the line when it comes to weaning the baby that the penny invariably drops with the new mothers, as the garlic press can be used to quickly puree small amounts of cooked food with ease and minimal mess – ingenious!”
Other items in the book include Hextravaganza - Hexham’s equivalent to Monopoly, clothing, a sculpture, a fossil, furniture and musical instruments.
Northumberland County Councillor Wojciech Ploszaj, cabinet member with responsibility for Promoting Business and Opportunities said:
“Hexham has a rich heritage and this book helps to capture the character of the town centre by providing an insight into some of the shops in the town now and in the past.
“A special thank you must go to the people who so generously told their stories to help create this unique book and capture an untold piece of Hexham’s history. “
The project is part of The Hexham High Street Heritage Action Zone scheme (HSHAZ), which is part of a £95 million government-funded programme led by Historic England.
The aim of the High Streets Heritage Action Zone is to help unlock the potential in Hexham’s town centre, through arts and cultural activities, as well as breathing new life into the historic high streets through repair and improvement work, making it more attractive to residents, businesses, tourists and investors