Press Release: Discovering the history and heritage of Cockermouth and its people

Participants wanted to help celebrate Cumbria’s diverse heritage

An ambitious 18-month project that aims to share and celebrate West Cumbria’s diverse culture and heritage is looking to hear from more local people as it enters its final phase.

Organised by Kirkgate Arts and Heritage based in Cockermouth, In My Shoes kicked off in April 2023 and runs until this September.

It has already featured a series of storytelling events, theatre, music and exhibitions across the area, all designed to inspire people to share their own stories.

A key facet of the project has been the way it celebrates local diversity by capturing personal experiences of people throughout the area through a series of oral history workshops.

Helen Johnston, Kirkgate Community Projects Officer, explained: “The project is working with people and groups across the area to explore our communities.

“What makes them unique? What do you take pride in? What are your family traditions? What is your story?

“There are several strands to the project. We’re holding events and visiting groups across the area from different communities to talk about our backgrounds and heritage and share family traditions and customs.

“We are also recording interviews with people who want to share their own stories. We have a team of volunteers who’ve been trained in oral history interviewing, and these stories will form part of our Heritage Collection and will be archived at Whitehaven Archives.”

The Kirkgate Heritage Group is working on an exhibition at the Kirkgate Centre, which will take place in August.

It will feature stories of people who’ve moved to Cockermouth through time, such as Irish immigration into the area in the 19th century, people of African origin who appear in church records in the 18th century, and displaced people who were at the Moota Prisoner of War camp after World War 2 and settled in Cockermouth.

Helen added: “Do you have a story to tell about your West Cumbrian heritage? We would love to interview you.

“We want to hear from people who were born and brought up in West Cumbria, and some of the unique aspects of life here, alongside stories from recent refugees, immigrants and people who have relocated to the region.”

More information can be found out about the project on the Kirkgate website:

If you’d like to take part, get in touch with Helen Johnston, Community Projects Officer, on 01900 829966 or email

ENDS …..



Kirkgate is a charity based in Cockermouth, Cumbria.  It operates an arts and heritage centre as well as working with towns and villages in West Cumbria to encourage a diverse programme of arts, culture and entertainment.  Its vision is to ensure that creative talent is valued, developed and supported with opportunities for all to engage actively with, and enjoy, the arts, local heritage and community life.

The Kirkgate Centre brings the best cultural, theatrical and entertainment events to Cumbria. From the best feature and documentary films to live streaming of top London shows, to local talent, heritage exhibitions, music, theatre, comedy and more, there is something for everyone.

In the historic Kirkgate Quarter of the Gem Town of Cockermouth, sitting on the edge of the Lake District National Park, the Kirkgate Centre is the perfect venue for special occasions, conferences, meetings, courses, exhibitions or private film screenings.

Kirkgate manages Arts Out West which stages performances in community venues from Furness to the Solway, ranging from nationally-recognised theatre companies to international musicians with events that are as much a social occasion as a performance.  It is a member of the National Rural Touring Forum supported by Arts Council England as a National Portfolio Organisation.

Follow @kirkgatearts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

For more information:

Emma Heys 01900 829966

The Kirkgate Centre, Kirkgate, Cockermouth, CA13 9PJ