Everyday Heritage Case Studies

Here are some examples of projects we funded in the first round of Everyday Heritage Grants.

Verd de Gris Arts, Halifax Stars

Verd de Gris Arts worked with an intergenerational group of people to celebrate the heritage of boxing clubs around Halifax, West Yorkshire.

With the goal of producing a short film to tell the stories of the older fighters and the gyms they trained in, the team leading the programme set out to collect oral histories, document memorabilia and interview young people who were getting started in the ring to find out their hopes and aspirations.

We wanted to reflect the strength and communal nature of boxing culture in working-class towns like Halifax and across West Yorkshire.
Jeff Turner Verd de Gris Arts

As well as interviewing previous boxing champions and professionals, they also spoke to a new generation of people stepping into the ring including Northern Powerhouse, a women and girls only boxing club and Star Boxing who hold a weekly training session for refugee and asylum seekers in the area.

Find out more about the project and watch the film

Friends of Horton Cemetery: Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Between 1899 and 1955, around 9000 people were buried in Horton Cemetery, which is now a neglected and inaccessible plot of land on the outskirts of Epsom. These people had all been patients at one of the five mental health hospitals that made up the Epsom Cluster.

The Friends of Horton Cemetery created their project ‘Out of Sight, Out of Mind’ to bring dignity and respect to the memory of the many mental health patients who died within the Epsom Cluster of asylums.

Over the course of the project, a group of volunteer researchers searched through local archives and resources to identify and write the stories of those buried in the neglected graveyard. They found images, birth and marriage records, and crowd-sourced information to tell the stories of these individuals and the lives they had led.

From tailors to farmers, servants to artists, these tales capture the broad range of people who died in the institutions and shed some light on how they came to be in these institutions.

Read the stories in their archive

In addition to this, the group has also painted 900 ceramic flowers, through arts and therapy craft workshops as a way of marking the graves themselves and having a more permanent reminder of those who were buried there.

Dunston Community Centre, Staiths & Me

Dunston Staiths, on the River Tyne, is believed to be the largest timber structure in Europe. Dunston Community Centre’s project, ‘Staiths and Me’ engaged young people at risk of exclusion or not in education, work or training to re-connect with the Staiths by exploring their local history and making creative responses.

The project leaders from Dunston Community Centre initially engaged three groups of young people (16-22) – Gateshead Scouts, the local secondary school and a group of young people from a Prince’s Trust employability course at the community centre. Youth workers and the project leader from the community centre and the chair of the Friends of Staiths hosted discussions at regular sessions on the Staiths’ history, coal mining, the class system, life in 1890, what it means to be working class and the concept of community.

The regular Thursday night sessions, exploration of local working-class history and community, creation of poems and a film met the project’s intended outcome and represented a huge step forward for the project participants, many of whom have increased in their confidence and comfort in expressing themselves creatively. From being detached and disengaged from the community to becoming interested in their environment and surroundings, these young people are demonstrating pride in their community because they feel valued.

This has resulted in a suite of AI poems about the Staiths to accompany a film which has been shared online and will be available in the future through a QR code on existing storyboards which confirms the group’s contribution to the development of the Staiths as a tourist attraction.

Cornwall Council, A Cornish Camera – Bodmin at Work

The George Ellis Collection consists of around 95,000 glass plate negatives documenting working and everyday life in Cornwall between 1939 and 1982. From January to March 2023, the Cornish Lens project delivered workshops and activities in Bodmin using unseen images from the George Ellis collection as the inspiration to engage people with their working-class heritage.

Kresen Kernow and their community partners intoBodmin worked closely with young people and people experiencing loneliness or isolation following the pandemic, as well as the wider community in Bodmin.

The artists delivering the workshops delivered a series of workshops on Sundays, using IntoBodmin as a base for activities that explored the images and the town’s history. The workshops were designed with the specific audiences in mind and carefully integrated heritage outcomes with encouraging people to learn new skills, share ideas and build their confidence.

The project showed the strength of the images to engage a wide range of people with the history of the town and its people. As a result of the project over 500 original glass plate negatives from the collection were digitised, increasing their accessibility preserving the images for the future.

Four Corners, Bengali Photography Archive

Over 18 months, Four Corners Films worked with local volunteers and residents to co-create a new archive of photographs and oral histories of and by Bangladeshi people living in and around Brick Lane in Tower Hamlets.

The project has created a picture of everyday life in the East End of London, from the perspective of the Bangladeshi people that have lived and worked there over a number of generations. Many of the images submitted contain previously unseen snapshots of family life and communities in the area.

In partnership with the Swadhinata Trust, volunteers visited a number of community events at schools, community centres, and gardening clubs to discuss the project, and also scanned photos and images on-site, directly adding them to the growing archive.

The photographs, alongside accompanying oral history interviews and one-minute film interviews, will be displayed through a new online archive and housed at Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives. A final showcase and talks event will take place in autumn 2023.

The artist Matthew Rosier worked with partners including Media City, local homelessness organisation Loaves and Fishes, BBC Philharmonic, and the Working Class Movement Library to create a new ‘Navvies’ community garden and a 10-day audiovisual installation in the main basin of the Canal in the heart of Media City.

Creating a living tribute and creating a piece of music and projection has given opportunities and experiences to our local community that have enriched their lives…We’ve learned so much about Salford's rich historical past.
Jennifer-Anne Smith, CEO Loaves and Fishes

The community garden remains open for people to visit.

Watch a short film about the project

Convenience Gallery CIC, Birkenhead’s Working Class History

Convenience Gallery CIC initiated a series of events and activities to share and discover tales about Birkenhead’s Working Class Histories, co-created with local residents.

A group of local artists lead sessions across four months and captured 100s of stories; from living in since-demolished housing estates, to shopping for your first suit in the high street. A particular theme that emerged was around capturing the vibrant history of Birkenhead’s music and nightlife, something which is integral to the communities there.

It was pleasure to try and express my verison of Birkenhead, the place I have called home for the last 3 years through my poems. I felt a greater connection to the place after allowing myself to reflect on my life and times there… And I know many others in the project have felt this too- it has allowed people to feel proud of a place they call home, feel a great ownership over their stories, times and life. And overall bought the wonderful community we have here together.
Dan Astles, Artist

All the activities and locations in the project were put onto an online map, as well as 200 handwritten stories from local people that related to specific places.

View the map

Newbigin Community Trust, Youth Blacksmithing Programme

The Youth Blacksmithing Programme has taught heritage skills to young people in the Winson Green and Handsworth areas of Birmingham. Through weekly sessions the group of teenagers have made a range of items which were then sold at at a market to support the programme.

Working with West Midlands Police, the project intially looked at how knives that had been collected from young people could be repurposed into something positive through learning new skills. As the project developed the participants recognised different approaches and opportunities that they could work on, and have created a new bench to encourage community connection in the area.

Ripon Museum Trust, Disabled People and the Ripon Workhouse

The experience of disabled people in Victorian workhouses is often overlooked. Working with a group of people with physical and learning disabilities in Ripon, this programme shed light on some of the unseen histories of the workhouse there, and encouraged discussion and education around the experience of disabled people in history.

Ripon Museum Trust started by inviting a series of guest speakers to inform the research volunteers, as well as reaching out to groups such as the Disability Collections Forum. They put out a call for a disabled artist to interpret, research and reimagine some of these stories was then produced.

The project looked at the language used during that time and how it reflected different attitudes to disabled people, and how things might have changed since then.

The project culminated in an exhibition and an opportunity to show the new artworks and interpretation developed by the artists Kate Lovell and Aisling Gallagher. It also showcased the research done by the curatorial volunteers into the unseen histories of disabled people who were inmates or staff working in Ripon Workhouse between the Victorian era and the early 1900s.

This project has helped create powerful and personal new interpretation materials for the Workhouse Museum’s permanent display which integrates disabled people’s stories into the museum.

The Sikh Development Academy, Rags to Riches

Rags to Riches captures the stories of Sikh mothers who, after migrating to Smethwick from Punjab, India worked as machine operatives. Often coming from rural villages, they used their traditional skillset in sewing to bring in an income for the family, contributing to the success of the textiles industry in the region.

Lead by the artist Ranbir Kaur in partnership with the Sikh Development Academy, this project brought together a group of Sikh-Punjabi women to share their experiences and personal journeys with other women across Sandwell.

Together they produced a large piece of textile art, which expressed a ‘common thread’ between their stories. This piece was exhibited at Smethwick Library in July 2023.