Exeter’s heritage makes us happy
25 March 2015
New research by BritainThinks puts heritage at the heart of improving quality of life across the UK over past 20 years.
Local heritage and historical sites make Exeter a better place to live, say an overwhelming majority of residents in a new study.
Museums, libraries and famous buildings are all important to local people, are a source of pride and also give the city a sense of identity.
These are some of the main findings in a study that reveals how there is a direct link between heritage and the quality of life.
RAMM manager Camilla Hampshire said: “Exeter’s rich history is intrinsic to its modern day identity, creating the special sense of place that attracts visitors to the city and contributes to the quality of life of residents. The partnership with the Heritage Lottery Fund has helped us celebrate this, touching and enriching the lives of everyone who lives, works or visits our wonderful city.”
Specialist research company, BritainThinks, conducted the in-depth study in 12 towns and cities representative of the UK population to mark 20 years and £6billion of investment in the UK’s heritage by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The report was commissioned to understand the public’s view of heritage and National Lottery investment and to see to what extent places had been made better places to work, visit and live in. One of 12 locations was Exeter whose residents gave a big thumbs-up to their local attractions.
The study quizzed people about a range of 10 heritage sites including the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery (RAMM), Topsham Museum, the Devon Record Office and Exeter Cathedral.
Nerys Watts, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South West England, said: “The results of this study show that a range of well looked after heritage attractions create a significant ‘feel good factor’ for local people. They see that heritage not only brings practical and economic benefits to their city but they also have an emotional reaction and pride in local historic sites.”
Key UK findings
• 80% think local heritage makes their area a better place to live
• 64% think heritage has improved in recent years in terms of how well it is looked after and what it has to offer
• Heritage plays a powerful role in bringing people together and helping to improve perceptions of quality of life
• Benefits of heritage seen as both transactional and emotional, encouraging local pride and fostering social cohesion.
Key findings in Exeter
• The wealth of heritage sites in Exeter was viewed as a source of local pride by 84% of respondents. Some 89% said it was an important factor in attracting tourists to the city and 85% said it made Exeter a better place to live.
• An overwhelming 94% of those surveyed were aware of RAMM, 66% of the Topsham Museum, 64% of the Devon Record Office and 52% the reading rooms at Exeter Cathedral.
• Local residents were also appreciative visitors of local heritage. Some 75% had been to RAMM . An overwhelming 88% say they enjoyed their visits and 85% felt the historic attractions were well maintained. They also enjoyed the fact that heritage sites gave them a better understanding of local history.
• Exeter residents were almost universally of the view (93%) that heritage was important to the country as a whole.
• Just over half of those interviewed (57%) had heard of the Heritage Lottery Fund and 71% of locals felt that the money invested in ten local projects (£16,483,850) was a good or excellent use of Lottery players’ money. Only 7% felt it was a poor or very poor use of Lottery funds.