Thursday 04, October 2012
Working Class Movement Library - 'The Invisible Histories'
A NEW project is underway to rediscover and celebrate the memories
of workers at the heart of Salford’s huge industrial legacy.
The skyline of the city has changed rapidly in the last century, removing nearly all traces of some of the city’s major employers and the communities that grew up around them.
Yet the Working Class Movement Library in Salford hopes to re-engage local residents with and preserve the area’s rich heritage through an oral history scheme.
The library’s 18 month “Invisible Histories” project will focus on recording the experiences of working people employed by three of Salford’s major employers in the late 19th and 20th centuries, Ward and Goldstone, Agecroft Colliery and the Richard Haworth textile mill. It has received £34,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
A dedicated team made up mostly of trained volunteers will collect the memories of those who used to work at the companies through a series of interviews. The recordings will then be used to create downloadable podcasts and launch what is hoped to be a travelling exhibition, which will move around the area to reunite residents with their community’s history.
It is also hoped that with the help of young people from the area
the podcasts will be interweaved with music to create a piece similar to Ewan
Maccoll’s radio ballads.
The purpose of the project is to remind and educate residents about the enormous impact of Salford’s lost industrial past on the community.
Project co-ordinator, Carrie Gough, explained: “The library itself is about preserving the memories of working people of that sometimes get overlooked by other institutions so it’s this focus that has formed the basis of the “Invisible Histories” project.”
Ward and Goldstone, once Salford’s largest employer, at one time
employed several thousands of staff at several factories throughout the city
whilst Richard “Dickie” Howarth’s Mill in Ordsall employed another 3000. All
psychical traces of Agecroft colliery, which remained open until after the
miners’ strike in 1985, have since been completely removed from the site.
The project in many ways echoes historian Brian Harrison’s crucial project to record the experiences of suffragettes in the 1970s to prevent important first-hand insights from being lost forever.
Carrie Gough said: “We hope it will engage new audiences and encourage the community to use the library as well as celebrating the community’s history.”
“There’s a huge emotional element to the project which we hope to tap into, for example the experiences of the Agecroft miners in the 1984 Miners’ strike. A real, close-knit community grew up out of their struggles. These experiences form an important part of political, union and working class history and they deserve to be memorialised. “
“The project will also develop volunteers skills in oral history research which we hope to continue to use after to build a spoken-word archive for the library.”
Anyone with any relevant information about the employers or their employees can contact Carrie Gough on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0161 736 3601.
The Working Class Movement Library is one of England’s preeminent collections and educative resources dedicated to preserving working class and political histories and is open, free, to the public. It regular puts on exhibitions and talks. It is currently running an appeal to raise the £80,000 a year it costs to keep the library open. For more information on the Invisible Histories Project, the library and its appeal visit www.wcml.org.uk
By Chloe Glover
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