This page records the progress of our project called ‘Hanging By A Thread: our Flax and Hemp Heritage’, with a new permanent collection amongst its several projected outcomes.

  • April 2014: The new gallery display is ready for our visitors.
  • 30 March 2014: We’re almost ready to rumble! The panels are up, the artefacts are in place, and the touchscreen now has something to be touched, with the laptop beautifully encased in its purpose-built box. It’s without a doubt the smartest part of the museum, but fortunately it’s not so incongruous as to put the rest of the displays to shame.
  • 18 March 2014: We receive the splendid news that HLF are happy with all our submissions and have signed us off. Does that mean it’s all over? No!
  • 5 March 2014: The preparation of the new exhibition space is progressing. We install our bespoke cabinet showing flax in its various forms from seed to threads and fabrics. The larger artefacts – flax break, hackles and scutching blade – are now in the museum ready to be secured.
  • 1 March 2014: The touchscreen is unmounted! We need to do some experiments to see how best to ensure it can be turned on easily by visitors before automatically turning itself off after a given period of inactivity.
  • 21 February 2014: But it’s not all done and dusted in terms of activity. Layout of the new permanent display is reviewed in the light of recent developments and adjusted accordingly. The touchscreen is wall-mounted.
  • 20 February 2014: We finally press the button to submit our end-of-grant forms to HLF and Media Trust. It’s not that we don’t like admin, but it’s nice to get it behind us. Or at least, we hope that’s what we’ve now done!
  • 15 February 2014: The new projector works properly and is tested extensively ready for its next meeting.
  • 1 February 2014: The projector is poorly – the problem with the dongle was actually a problem with the projector itself – and will have to be replaced.
  • 10 January 2014: Work continues apace on the new permanent Flax & Hemp area in the museum. Considerable alterations and revamping of existing displays have provided the space. Panels have been refurbished and the paintbrushes are out. Electrical work for the IT components will be installed shortly.
  • 9 January 2014: At the museum’s AGM the progress of the project and its importance to the museum are mentioned in reports by the chairman, treasurer and curator, not least its impact in terms of learning and discovery for local schools and adult groups. The project leader is accorded a vote of thanks by the meeting.
  • 7 January 2014: More testing on our new IT equipment. We prove that we can use the touchscreen the way we envisaged and that the projector is a w-h-o-l-e lot better that our old one. There’s still work to do in getting the projector to function with its dongle (ie: wirelessly) and even without a laptop (by plugging in a memory stick). The wall bracket hasn’t even turned up yet, even though we ordered it in November! We’ll plan to use the new projector in anger for the first time at the museum’s AGM later this week – better to do the pilot in-house before we take the kit out on the road.
  • 1 January 2014: Happy New Year! It’s good ol’ fashioned retting weather outside, and we’ve just returned from the first guided walk, in conjunction with our friends from Beaminster Ramblers. We followed in the footsteps of the old flax workers, focusing in particular on the ruins at Clenham Mill and what was once Cox & Co, but exploring plenty of other flax-related features and telling flax-related tales. There’s certainly enough water out there to drive a millwheel or two! A repeat performance is planned for a warmer and drier date.
  • 5 December 2013: There are further deliveries. It’s clear to all now why we had to defer many of the purchases until our summer season was over. Almost every spare bit of floorspace in the museum is given over to new display cabinets and the like in vast sheets of bubblewrap, waiting for the right time to start building in earnest. A complex plan is in place to coordinate the flax & hemp development into all the other restructuring work – there’s a limit to the number of spare hands we can muster and the amount of space we can commandeer all at the same time! Downstairs we load the necessary software on to the new laptops. Configuring the touchscreen and projector will have to wait for another day.
  • 2 December 2013: The project is far from over yet. Work is started on our final accounts.
  • 30 November 2013: Another day, another session in the Public Hall! This time we host an open morning for anyone from the community to come and see what we’ve been doing. The Town Crier does his bit, and upwards of another 100 local people pay us a visit. We’re pleased that the event turns out to be much more than a bolt-on to yesterday’s celebration.
  • 29 November 2013: To celebrate the end of our project (for budgetary purposes at least!) we entertain over 120 specially invited guests at a reception in the Public Hall. They include a number of people who had contributed to the project in various ways, representatives of the town and district councils, members of the local press, and participants in local interest groups. After a few well-chosen words from the museum chairman and project leader, there’s time to look at a display of project material and demonstrations of flax processing. It proves to be of great interest.
  • 20 November 2013: The project group meet to review all aspects of the celebration event to be held in Beaminster Public Hall on 29 November. It seems as though this will be attended by over 100 guests from different sections of the local community, including the surrounding villages. To be honest, we weren’t expecting quite such an enthusiastic response! In addition to refreshments, we shall be offering a brief report on what the project has achieved, as well as displays, demonstrations and (naturally!) opportunities to purchase our book. We shall repeat much of the exercise the following morning, this time for the benefit of the public at large. Posters are up and the Town Crier has been briefed.
  • 15 November 2013: Now that the museum has entered its closed season for the winter, the area designated for the new Flax & Hemp permanent display is under preparation by volunteers. The ‘walls’ are up; orders have been placed for display cabinets and IT equipment, and their arrival is imminent; ‘hands-on’ apparatus has been commissioned; visual and interpretation panels are being created. We’re all being very busy little beavers!
  • 14 November 2013: A complimentary copy of the November issue of Dorset Life just popped through the museum’s letterbox. It features the museum and the project. John Newth’s illustrated article ends by saying ‘ … the Hanging by a Thread project has made a significant contribution to understanding an important but neglected aspect of Beaminster’s past.’
  • 14 November 2013: Our project leader holds the long-planned ‘little chat’ (backed up by an email) with HLF about budget allocations. His request to do a bit of juggling is received very favourably and we all breathe a sigh of relief. Quite why we feel so guilty about having been unable twelve months ago to see into the future with perfect clarity is obviously ridiculous, but we’re determined to do everything absolutely properly. Our ‘minder’ at HLF seemed to recognise this and was totally supportive. We can set up exhibitions and write books with the best of them, but we’re still like innocents abroad when it comes to spending more than a quid!
  • 9 November 2013: The subscribers’ advance copies of the book have now all been delivered. The unsolicited feedback has been very gratifying and very welcome. Such as: “The book I think is perfectly lovely – beautiful cover and layout – and it’s amazing how much information there is inside that slender shape.”  “I really enjoyed the book; it was very well done so congratulations to everyone.” “…this brilliant and charming book…”
  • 1 November 2013: It all gets seriously frantic towards the end of the official expenditure year. It’s not that we can’t spend our funding – far from it – but simply that with a research project you can’t really spend much at all until after you’ve done all the research work: we can’t print the book until we’ve written it; we can’t buy anything for the new display until we’ve found out what we need; we can’t plan a celebration until we’ve got something to celebrate, etc. Thus 90% of the financial action has to be managed in 10% of the total time available! We know we won’t overspend  – well, not by much anyway! – but we know too that we need a chat with HLF about realigning the expenditure categories a little. Fact is, it’s virtually impossible to predict at the outset exactly where you’ll end up spending your cash, but you don’t realise you need the readjustment until you actually get to the sharp end, that last 10% of the project.
  • 17 October 2013: The first batch of books arrives on schedule – though we have to fetch them from the printers ourselves in the end. They look good. Plans are in place to distribute copies to subscribers before general release.
  • 14 October 2013: A team meeting gets to grips with what seems like a mountain of urgent business: purchasing plans for the exhibition (the museum closes for the winter on November 3rd, so we can start construction work), and the talks (our existing equipment just isn’t up to it), plus the tricky issue of the guest list for our ‘community celebration’ (serious politics!).
  • 12 October 2013: Phew! Just finished two days of hand-processing flax! They came, they saw a brief demonstration, and they conquered the almost vanished craft, using replica equipment specially made for the event. Children enjoy some hands-on experience as do other visitors, inspired by seeing the growers performing the magical transformation of dull dry stalks into beautiful, silky soft hanks of dressed flax. Next step: spinning!
  • 8 October 2013: We sign off the proofs for the text and cover and the book goes to print. Publication is due next month – in good time for Christmas.
  • 3 October 2013: We get the book to the printers on schedule! The research phase uncovered a lot of new information but it took the team a great deal of detective work, over many months, to tease out the story. Organising interviews and site visits, the production of illustrations and graphics, tracing old photographs and taking new ones, acquiring subscribers, sifting fact from anecdote and making informed conjecture from sometimes scant evidence… It’s been challenging. We thank all the members of the local community who have contributed to the work as well as colleagues from other museums who helped us on the journey.
  • 2 October 2013: The first illustrated talk (of several) has happened. Two of our number gave a lively and interesting presentation to a gratifyingly large audience in Netherbury Village Hall. Their talk made specific reference to Netherbury’s past, focusing on the mills and people who played a huge part in the local flax and hemp story.
  • 1 October 2013: All of a sudden things are gathering pace. Everything we’ve sown is about to be harvested (apart from the flax itself, of course)!
  • 3 September 2013: All the trial growing plots on the Beaminster allotments have been pulled (harvested) and are now laid out thinly on the ground for retting (a process of controlled rotting) to break down the outer covering of the stems. The allotment’s flax growers were asked to weigh their crop after it was pulled. It is interesting to see the results achieved from a one metre square plot sown with the same quantity of seed and all weighed using the same balance scales. There is a significant difference ranging from 1lb to 5lb.
  • 28 August 2013: We receive confirmation of our booking of the public hall for the celebratory event on Friday 29 November. All systems go!
  • 21 August 2013: Another meeting (Part 2)!  We complete the book review. It’s fervently hoped that consideration of prototype 6 will be restricted to proof-reading, but we daren’t rule out a need for limited changes to particular wording. We agree the timetable necessary for submission of the final version to the printers at the beginning of October. The two main editors continue to exhibit the patience of Job!
  • 19 August 2013: Another meeting. This time to undertake a line-by-line analysis of prototype 5 of the book. The meeting gets through about one-third of the draft.
  • 19 August 2013: We receive a very competitive quote from a local caterer to provide catering services at our proposed celebratory event and agree to accept it.
  • 13 August 2013: A meeting is held to continue discussion on the permanent exhibition on flax and hemp to be set up in the Museum and on the organisation of a public event to publicise the completion of our project at the end of November. Discussion of the permanent exhibition centres on the objects and information blocks which we will wish to display; the specifications and sourcing of a new cabinet to hold some of the items involved; and alternative means of showing digital material, in particular the images which we have collected in the course of carrying out the project. We believe that we may now have enough relevant items to display in the Museum space available and we agree specifications for a new cabinet as a basis on which to open discussions with potential suppliers. We also agree to consult an external advisor on the best way of showing images to our public. As regards the celebratory event we agree to obtain a booking of the local public hall during the last week of November and to seek quotes from potential caterers.
  • 1 August 2013: We receive approval of our request to the HLF to postpone the deadline for completion of our new exhibition until the end of February 2014. All other commitments will be fulfilled by the end of November 2013, with the exception of the final report, which will be submitted on full completion.
  • 31 July 2013: The Museum Committee approves provisional plans for the siting of the new exhibition. It will have a significant knock-on effect on existing displays.
  • 31 July 2013: An additional meeting of the Research Group completes its line-by-line examination of the text and illustrations of the book. We also hear that the flax being grown in around 20 small plots is approaching the point of readiness for pulling and retting. Meanwhile two machines have been constructed by a local carpenter for use of the growers.
  • 29 July 2013: The Research Group discusses prototype 4 (fourth full draft) of the book. The first two-thirds of the text and illustrations are examined line by line. A report is also received on the development of contacts in the villages as well as steps being taken to stimulate their involvement in the project. We now have a full list of contacts working on various aspects of the project for their villages, including the  identification of descendants of those with historical involvement in the industry.
  • 21 July 2013: Subscribers are now being sought for the project’s forthcoming publication Hanging by a Thread: Our Flax and Hemp Heritage. An important part of our HLF grant application was a commitment to raise funding towards the book. Priced at £15 it is in a soft-backed square format, lavishly illustrated and bringing to life the story of our local flax and hemp heritage over the last 300 years. Within its pages you will meet the people who depended on this crop for their livelihoods: the growers, the entrepreneurs and the workers; you will find out about local mills and manufacturing; you can discover the way the crops were processed and the products that were made and lots more besides. As a subscriber you will have your name printed in the subscribers’ list and will receive your copy in advance of general release which is scheduled for November 2013. You might even decide to make a gift subscription on behalf of someone else. To find out how to order your subscriber’s copy please contact the project subscription manager Andrew Ravenhill phone:01308 863448 or email:, or use the Contact page on this website and your request will be forwarded.
  • 20 July 2013: The various trial plots continue to develop and we are starting to see how the plants are coping with the high temperatures. The three plots at St. Mary’s Primary School show distinctly different results; one is very sparse and patchy, another is growing well and the third is showing a good stand of plants. The pre-school plot is very good. The churchyard flax is setting seed as are the allotment plots crops and there is some yellowing of the lower stems. This all appears to be in line with what the literature tells us to expect. Phase 2 instructions will be issued to growers shortly, giving further details on harvesting, retting and drying in readiness for the next stages of processing to release the fibres. A local farmer has kindly agreed to loan us some barn space in the autumn so that growers can produce flax fibre from their own plants and try making some garden twine. A local carpenter is in the process of making a replica flax break and a scutching board for use by our flax growers.
  • 15 July 2013: We’re starting to get good responses from the surrounding villages, all of whom now have official contacts. New information is coming in and further interviews have taken place as a result. One 98-year-old recalls finding a wall in his garden from the mill burned down in Hooke. We’ve also located another retting pit. We’ve started fixing dates for village talks too.
  • 2 July 2013: The warmer weather seems to have got the flax growing well. A visit to the trial plots shows healthy growth although germination is uneven on some. This may be due to over-vigorous raking in of the broadcast seed or just the vagaries of the weather and soil conditions. The more advanced crops are now about 22 inches/ 56 cms high and this last week has seen the first blue flowers appearing. We are continuing to build our photographic log to record the progress of the trial.
  • 1 July 2013: The first meeting is held of a sub-group on the proposed permanent exhibition in the Museum about the industry. We discuss and examine the available space, the work needed to adapt it and the possible contents of the exhibition. It is agreed to ask the Committee of the Museum formally to approve the available space. It is also agreed that in view of our inability to prepare the space before we close for the season we should ask HLF for an extension of our deadline for completion of the project for a couple of months.
  • 19 June 2013: Sorry about the long gap. It isn’t that we haven’t been doing anything – quite the contrary! Here instead is a mid-term report from the project leader. “The production of our book on the history of the flax and hemp industry in Beaminster and surrounding villages is well under way. For the last couple of months an editorial team of two has been working overtime to reduce a mass of raw research material to readable form. Our complete project group has recently considered in detail the third version of a text and graphics running to around 100 pages. We have agreed the presentational format, the general style of the text, and both the lay-out and the scope of content to be included. Some of the drafting is in close to final form and the gaps have been identified. Much of course remains to be done but we are pleased to be up to speed on one of the most important of the outcomes of the project.Our initiative to encourage the growing of flax has also taken off. Around twelve individual growers have sown the seeds, including allotment holders, school groups, individual gardeners and guardians of public spaces. They currently have plants up to nearly half of one metre tall and the first flowerings are expected at the beginning of July, somewhat delayed because of bad weather. This programme promises to be of great value in involving numbers of local residents and in promoting awareness of the plant and its local history. We have also commissioned the assembly of a range of simple processing equipment from a local craftsman, which will be used by growers to produce intermediate flax products after harvesting. Meanwhile one or two schools are introducing flax into their educational programmes, and in addition to helping them to grow flax, we shall be assembling loan boxes to assist their studies in due course.As and when the occasion arises, for example through local auctions and antique dealers, we have been acquiring machinery and artefacts for inclusion in the new section of the Museum which we are planning to devote to the flax and hemp industry. We have also agreed a preliminary allocation of space for the section and will be acquiring new display units in the coming months.

    Finally we have laid a certain emphasis on the identification of descendants of those whom we know to have worked in the industry in the 19th and 20th centuries. These are invaluable in the research process in providing access to artefacts and relevant written evidence, as well as  in some cases giving us personal impressions of the industry. We would welcome many more of these witnesses to the past, and we would encourage anyone with relevant background or material to get in touch with the Museum (tel. 01308 863623).”

  • 30 April 2013: OBOGA News, the newsletter of the Beaminster & Netherbury Grammar School Old Boys & Old Girls Association, asked last week if any former pupils had memories of pulling flax during the war years. A reply is received, and we hope there may be others.
  • 28 April 2013: The first signs of green shoots appear on some of the allotment holders’ trial flax plots (sown on 19th April).
  • 24 April 2013: Children from St. Mary’s School, Beaminster join the project as pioneer flax growers. Pupils had previously prepared three trial plots which were sown by children from Key Stage 2, Key Stage 1 and members of the school’s Gardening Club.  Liaison between the museum’s project team and Stage 2 teacher Juli Howe, eco-coordinator Lucy Eames and Gardening Club organiser Mandy Gurd will enable the children to grow and tend the plants in the hope of raising a healthy crop of flax for fibre. It will be in September, at the start of the new school year, when they will know whether their efforts have been successful and if they can process their crop to make flax fibre. The growing trial, which will support the curriculum in numeracy and awareness of biodiversity, aims to give the young people a sense of living history as for over 300 years flax formed an important part of the area’s economy. It is over 50 years since the crop was grown locally. Not to miss out, children at Beaminster Playgroup have also joined in by planting their own flax plot. The four plots in different areas of the school site each have their own giant plant label to remind everyone that these are special experiments.
  • 20 April 2013: Flaxseed is sown on the Brandon Plot (a small community garden) in Netherbury. This village probably had the longest history of flax production and processing in the area. Although the site isn’t ideal by any means it is exciting to think that this trial plot brings flax back – lets hope for successful growing!
  • 18 April 2013: The plot in St Mary’s churchyard, Beaminster, has been sown – our flax trial has truly begun!
  • 16 April 2013: At last – the first real feel of spring and there are signs on the Beaminster allotments that one metre square plots are being prepared ready for sowing flax seed. The fields of lovely blue flowers that we see in the countryside today are the multi-branched varieties of flax that farmers grow for the production of linseed oil. The variety of flax seed, called Suzanne, that is being sown as part of our project has been chosen especially for growing tall, straight plants suitable for processing into fibre.
  • 3 April 2013: A further meeting of the Research Group reviews the second prototype of the book. We make significant progress in firming up the general characteristics and shape of the book, for instance in deciding to go for a black-and-white rather than a coloured version because of cost constraints. We agree that the third prototype will be a first full-contents draft including both text and positioning of graphics. We also discuss project objectives other than the book and community activities, for example  the acquisition of tools and machinery, an initiative to take the project to our villages, and further use of the research budget.
  • 28 March 2013: As part of part of our drive to involve the community we hold a successful evening for the groups who had agreed to take part in our initiative to encourage the local growing of flax on a small scale, including representatives of a primary school, a group of farmers, a further group of allotment holders, and individuals responsible for the use of public space in one of the local villages and in Beaminster churchyard. A member of the local press also attends. The audience is briefed on the wider aspects of the project and given packs of flax seeds, plot markers and instructions for planting and weeding (normally in April). The occasion is enhanced by the availability of mulled cider.
  • 11 March 2013: Our project leader is interviewed on the telephone by Dr David Scott (for HLF), during which the latter is given a detailed account of progress to date, including our budgetary position. The big expenditures are yet to come. Two similar interviews will follow later in the project.
  • 8 March 2013: Research sub-group meets to discuss the first prototype of the book. The discussion focuses on the structure rather than the content of the book and takes place against the background of the financial constraints set by our budget and the previously agreed general characteristics of the book. In particular the group considers the balance to be achieved between a narrative form of document and a compendium in which the items of content could be included in almost any order. A compromise approach is agreed to form the basis of the second prototype.
  • 28 February 2013: Various meetings and conversations have taken place during the month with the aim of crafting a special programme for schools in the town and area. We are delighted to have secured the enthusiastic participation of a local primary school in a programme of flax growing and preliminary processing. Together with our initiative to undertake a comparable programme with members of the Beaminster Allotments Association, this constitutes a major step towards our objective of involving the local community in our project in a fully participative way. We order and take delivery of a substantial package of flax seeds and incidentals for the schools and allotment-holders.
  • 21 February 2013: Some members revisit Flaxland to collect linum usitatissimum seed for the ‘flax for fibre’ growers.
  • 8 February 2013: Research sub-group meets to discuss progress made by individual researchers on their areas of responsibility. We agree a preliminary list of topics for each researcher to be included in the proposed book, with estimates of length of text and allowances of space for graphics. We also agree to discuss at the next meeting a first prototype of the shape of the compendium with slots for the agreed topics and space for graphics. The meeting benefits greatly from the presence and participation throughout of star local historian Diana Trenchard, attending by invitation.
  • 26 January 2013: First batch of images forwarded to HLF.
  • 24 January 2013: At the Beaminster Allotment Holders AGM nine allotment holders express an interest in growing a trial plot of flax (linum usitatissimum) for us – to be sown in mid-April.
  • 19 January 2013: Another trip, this time to Mangerton Mill – and another worthwhile exercise.
  • 17 January 2013: Three group members visit ‘Flaxland’ in Gloucestershire (see 14 December 2012) to gain hands-on experience of flax processing and consult reference material. It’s proven an extremely useful day.
  • 11 January 2013: A rather long meeting to track research progress. It’s becoming clear that some mysteries may have to remain unresolved, simply because the documentary evidence we seek doesn’t exist. We decide that plausible speculation will be valid as long as we make it clear that we don’t know the actual truth.
  • 10 January 2013: Our project leader makes a presentation at the Museum’s AGM, introducing to members the project, its aims and its expected outcomes.
  • 20 December 2013: One team member makes a preliminary visit to Bridport Museum.
  • 19 December 2012: A group of three visit West Coker Museum. Prince amongst lots of other useful snippets of information is the fact that ag labs in the flax fields generally downed six pints of strong local cider every day!
  • 14 December 2012: A group meeting agrees a plan for learning whatever we can from the people who provided the hemp and flax background for the BBC’s Wartime Farm series.
  • 13 December 2012: Six of the team visit Crewkerne Museum just up the road – though it’s a major adventure with the Tunnel closed! They are way ahead of us in terms of the preservation of their own flax and hemp heritage, but we now have a better understanding of the main story and picked up a few useful ideas. And it’s always nice to chat to the neighbours!
  • 12 December 2012: We push the boat out and open a Facebook account. Lots of strange people want to be our friend!
  • 7 December 2012: Yes, the money is definitely in our account!
  • 28  November 2012: We leap into action on receiving written confirmation that the starting pistol on our project has been officially fired. Letters are sent to various local bodies (which result subsequently in a number of congratulatory and supportive replies).
  • 26 November 2012: Informal confirmation that we have permission to start the project – or, more specifically, that we can start spending money. In reality, the project ‘started’ back in May, because we had to work hard even to create the application in the first place.
  • 23 November 2012: Having satisfied the media’s voracious appetite for interviews (!) we settle down to the serious business of running the project. One of the challenges will be that all members of the project team are already involved in several other activities in the Museum, including the design and implementation of the already agreed 2013 exhibitions, so resourcing is a significant issue. One of our early decisions is to recruit ‘contacts’ from beyond the immediate Museum community.
  • 21 November 2012: The media release is despatched to a wide variety of organisations.
  • 16 November 2012: Group photo outside Yarn Barton, a Beaminster building with links to the flax industry.
  • 14 November 2012: Having finally found the online forms required (we couldn’t find them earlier for the simple reason that they weren’t there!), we make the necessary submissions.
  • 13 November 2012: Our PR specialist is briefed on all aspects of the project and asked to prepare the media release to go out early morning 21 November embargoed for 0001 hrs 22 November. We’re all in exciting new territory here!
  • 2 November 2012: Our team member who said she’d eat her trainers if we were given any funds carries out her promise – fortunately in the form of a ‘trainer cake’. An initial informal project meeting agrees some important internal controls.
  • 27 October 2012: The period of intense action and heavy responsibility begins. We prepare to carry out the first three tasks required by HLF – requesting permission formally to start the project, applying for our grant to be transferred and the arrangement of our first media release. Immediate problem: we can’t find the online form for the first two tasks.
  • 26 October 2012: Wow! We did it! The long wait is over with the news that our application has been successful. But we can’t tell anybody yet; this is what it must be like when you get your knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours (this blog entry is retrospective, by the way)!
  • 2 August 2012: We’ve been having such fun with the admin! HLF’s email server started rejecting all our emails, so communication became somewhat tricky. In addition, we received notification that the signed declaration was invalid because the signature was from the main contact, not a separate person. This was because HLF couldn’t update the main contact details until they received the application, so we were in a bit of a Catch-22 situation. Despite several phone calls and assurances that the form would be updated on receipt, this still didn’t happen. We just learned today that the change has been made on the database but cannot be made to the form itself, so nothing more needs to be done prior to assessment. Yippee!
  • 11 July 2012: There has been much to-ing and fro-ing required in order to complete the form – right up to today. We eventually worked out what all the questions meant and accepted that the costs must align with the way the form works, not the way our brains work. It’s been a bit painful at times, but the finished product is undoubtedly better than it would have been had we not checked our assumptions. The online submission has finally been made; the hardcopy declaration will follow shortly.
  • 30 June 2012: The webmaster has started to fill in the online HLF application form and alerted the group to the fact that it doesn’t quite match the format of the finalised text. More emailing required yet, alas!
  • 29 June 2012: The fifth meeting has finally agreed that the project should be called ‘Hanging by a Thread’, which carries the sense of local people’s lives being wholly dependent on the industry without the implicit negativity of the rival suggestion, ‘Losing the thread’. The webmaster has accepted responsibility for tacking a ‘research control page’ on to this blog (see above) so that we can share our news and avoid duplication – and for completing the online HLF application based on the final (?) text in the fourth draft, plus profile data to be acquired from various sources. In theory, we need no more meetings until October.
  • 26 June 2012: Yes, bang on schedule, today we got the fourth draft in our inboxes. Surely we must be getting very close now!
  • 22 June 2012: We’ve had our fourth meeting. It’s mostly down to detail, which is easier now everyone is agreed on the big picture.
  • 19 June 2012: We’re getting into the swing of this now! Today we were sent the third draft for review at the fourth meeting next Friday.
  • 15 June 2012: We’ve had a third meeting to review the second draft and subsequent emails. We focused our attention on Sections 1 (Project Summary) and 3 (Our Heritage & Project) of the application.
  • 12 June 2012: We’ve received our second draft of the application. Let the email debate recommence! The combination of face-to-face meetings and email correspondence seems to be working.
  • 8 June 2012: We’ve held our second meeting to review the draft application. The general research scope and possible outcomes were confirmed. We all agree on the importance of the schools programme and having as interactive element in our proposed new display. And we’ve all been given our jobs!
  • 31 May 2012:The emails have been flying around as we try to clarify our own thinking, bearing in mind the actual questions on the HLF application form. We’ve struggled with some terminology, eg: ‘digital applications’, and are still undecided about the exact nature of some of our own aims, eg: whether any resultant book should be fact or fiction, but the waters are certainly less muddy than they were. Our leader has drafted an application based on all these communications. One particular issue is finding regular slots when we can all meet.
  • 9 May 2012: We’ve had our first meeting and appointed our project leader. After discussing some alternative suggestions we agreed quite quickly that what we really wanted to do was explore the flax and hemp industry in Beaminster and the surrounding villages, primarily to plug a significant gap in our coverage. We decided we needed a catchy title, but haven’t come up with one yet.
  • 8 May 2012: We’ve registered our interest in applying for HLF funding for the project and have been assigned our unique project reference number. We can access the online application form. It looks as though the form will require us to channel our thinking very precisely.

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