High Street Culture
Find out what’s coming up in our four-year programme of cultural activity across England's High Streets Heritage Action Zones, continuing until 2024.
Midsomer Norton, a medieval market town in the Mendip Hills, prospered as a coal-mining settlement from the 1750s, becoming the commercial centre of the Somerset Coal Field in the 19th century.
Midsomer's civic buildings, breweries and public houses were built at that time, along with distinctive terraces of miners' cottages. Many of the small-scale domestic buildings flanking the High Street, which the River Somer still runs through, were converted for commercial use at that time.
Midsomer Norton has lost a number of banks and national retail chains in recent years, reducing the overall retail offer. Currently, only one in five local people shop in Midsomer Norton, many preferring to travel to nearby Bath and Bristol or to shop online. As a result many of the historic buildings in the High Street are vacant and in need of repair and maintenance.
Midsomer Norton is set to grow with 2,500 new homes and 1,700 new jobs within walking distance of the town centre, which could stimulate demand for quality retail, leisure, and cultural services.
Up to £793,000 has been awarded to Bath & North East Somerset Council for a High Streets Heritage Action Zone to capitalise on this opportunity. The project will revitalise the Town Hall and The Island – the medieval core of Midsomer Norton – creating a new public space for markets, arts and cultural events. There will also be work to improve pedestrian access across the town, and a scheme to repair historic shopfronts.
Midsomer Norton has a dynamic community spirit and a reputation for taking action. Working with local partners and building on existing events and festivals, the Heritage Action Zone will create opportunities for new cultural celebrations themed around the town’s heritage and designed to attract new and wider audiences.
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