Sunday 3 January 2016
In 2014 I won the Community Award as part of the Manchester Community Histories Awards with The Bradford Pit Project.
To give you a bit of background on the project, Bradford Colliery was a fundamental contributor to the fuel and power industry for years. Today, the Etihad campus occupies the site on which the colliery once stood. After its closure in 1968 and demolition in 1973 there have been various changes to East Manchester’s physical development and regeneration, which means there has been a lessening awareness of the area’s heritage.
My Grandfather was a former Bradford Miner and suffered an accident there which affected the rest of his life. After his passing I was inspired to research the history of the site and develop a project for a permanent commemoration.
The project’s exhibition ‘Remembering Bradford Pit’ ran as part of Manchester Histories Festival in 2014 and was nominated for the award because of the work done with Beswick Library and St. Brigids Primary School. A visit was arranged to ‘tell the stories of the underground’ to the children. The event included activities such as ‘tally’ stamping and coal drawing to capture the children’s responses to the stories. The aim of the exhibition and miners visit was to help the Beswick/Bradford community rediscover what is an important part of the area’s heritage.
During the awards ceremony, I was approached by Laing O’Rourke, sponsors of the Community Award, who were so impressed with the project that they offered me a 6 month placement during which I was appointed the role of ‘Regeneration and Community Co-ordinator’. I gained a fixed term contract with the company to work on The Bradford Pit Project full time to bring the project into fruition. Since then I have been able to spend my time developing the phases of the project in order to realise it's end aim of creating a landmark, that is a celebration of this pioneering area.
The prize money has contributed to the development of the project’s website which allows the public to share their stories and memories on the area aiding the development of the project’s archive. The archive is to be housed at Archives+ Manchester Central Library as a permanent resource for generations to come.
The recognition received and whole experience of Manchester Histories Festival, provided me the stepping stones and break the project needed in order to realise its full potential and aims. Without the festivals awards I wouldn’t have been able to propel the project to the stage it is currently at and have even been given the amazing opportunity to do this.
Entries and nominations for the 2016 Manchester Histories Community Awards 2016 close at 5pm on Friday 29th January 2016. Full details and application forms are available through the Manchester Histories' website.
Tagged in CommunitiesFestival
Wednesday 1 July 2015
My first experience as a volunteer for Manchester Histories was being sat in a freezing warehouse on Dale Street in the Northern Quarter. It was a few days before the March 2014 Festival began; myself and a few other volunteers were being trained how to use fire extinguishers in preparation for the Belle Vue: Showground of the World exhibition. Although it doesn’t sound like the most enticing volunteer experience, we quickly bonded through a shared need for hot drinks and biscuits, the staple volunteer diet! We shook off the chill with stories about our various backgrounds and enthusiasm for history. In hindsight, the memory of the night of fire-training is only one of many highly fulfilling abut also ultimately, life changing experiences I had!
Manchester Histories opened my eyes to the opportunities volunteering in the arts can offer. We were given the chance to build a wide skill set, which ranged from the basic to specialist. For example, I helped with administrative work, particularly following the festival with the evaluation research; worked with the public by invigilating exhibitions and events; and university lecturers taught us how to undertake oral histories interviews, in order to help build an archive of evidence from people who had memories of Belle Vue. The latter in particular was really rewarding. I spent a lot of time invigilating the exhibition, where I learned about a whole area of history I had previously known nothing about and it was also where I undertook the interviews. To be able to hear people’s memories, sometimes highly cherished ones, was not only incredibly interesting, but also a real privilege. I spoke with many who clearly had a great passion for Belle Vue and relished the opportunity to relive their youth through the footage and objects on display.
Aside from volunteering for the Belle Vue exhibition, I was lucky enough to have my personal interest in the history of sport taken into account when allocations of volunteers were being done. I was therefore able to volunteer at a couple of events that focused on Manchester’s sporting heritage. These included helping to facilitate a tour at Manchester Tennis and Racquets Club, a building and institution that truly offers a glimpse into the past. It was like walking into a time capsule! Another event was at the National Football Museum for a very varied and interesting panel discussion, that included basketballer John Amaechi, broadcaster Terry Christian and historian Michael Wood, amongst others, entitled ‘Manchester Heroes: Should the City remember it’s Heroes?’.
My time at the festival had such an effect on me that it has hugely influenced my career path. Prior to my volunteering, I had plans to follow an academic route and intended to do an MA in History. I had even prepared for this, with a move to study in Edinburgh on the horizon. However, the week with the festival confirmed some existing doubts in my mind about this, and I realised what I had enjoyed most was the bringing together of strangers with shared interests and the exposure to ‘new’ histories, be it through a lecture or using an old warehouse as a venue. I therefore began an MA in Arts Management at the University of Manchester last September. In my second semester I re-joined Manchester Histories for my work placement. It has been fantastic to see what is in store for Manchester Histories Festival 2016; next June can’t come soon enough!
Tagged in FestivalPeople