North West 2016


Greater Manchester (Rosalyn Livshin)

Legacy of Ahmed

The Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust (AIUET) has continued both to deliver and support oral history projects.  Its own ‘Legacy of Ahmed’ project is uncovering and sharing the positive developments that have happened in the 30 years since Ahmed was killed by a fellow pupil in a Manchester school playground. It focusses on, the story of the school built by his mother, Fatima Begum, in Sylhet, now serving over 800 pupils; the development of the AIUET Resource Centre; the growth of the Manchester Bangladeshi Women’s Organisation; and the work of a local organisation forging stronger links and understanding between Manchester and Bangladesh – the Longsight Sylhet Link Group. Over 30 interviews have been conducted and reminiscence sessions recorded with members of the Bangladeshi community and people involved with all the organisations. There is also a great deal of archival material now stored in Manchester Central Library.

Kotha & Kantha, Bangladeshi Women’s project

AIUET has also delivered this project which has worked with an artist, writer, embroiderer and photographer. While not strictly an oral history project, the artists worked with a group of Bangladeshi women to explore memories and testimony, expressing them through writing and embroidery.

Local Community Group Projects

The AIUET has again been active supporting local community groups to deliver oral history projects largely funded by Heritage Lottery. These include the connections between Manchester and West Africa evident in textile heritage – a project delivered by Michelle and Joseph Ayavoro of the Creative Hands Foundation; oral histories of Yoruba people in Manchester delivered by Peter Macjob; and an ongoing project called ‘Traditional Best Times of South Asian Women’ collecting testimonies of Pakistani women about their traditional pastimes – sports and games, arts and crafts, food and recipes, being delivered by Nusrat Ahmed of the organisation Community on Solid Ground.

Manchester Refugee Support Network heritage and archiving project.

This has been a particularly significant oral history project – still in progress – which has so far collected 20 interviews, exploring the life-stories and roles of founder members and project workers in MRSN over its 20 years of existence. Much of the paper archive has already been deposited and catalogued at the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre and the oral history recordings will add to the growing collection of BME materials that the Centre holds. MRSN’s project will end with an event at Manchester Central Library on December 3rd.

A Liverpool – West Africa Maritime Heritage

The project is creating an online resource of memories and experiences of the former staff of Elder Dempster Lines (EDL), the largest British shipping line between the UK and West Africa, which until 1989 was based in Liverpool. It is a collaboration between the EDL Pensioners Association, Liverpool John Moores University and the University of Liverpool, together with local history and community groups, the Centre for Port and Maritime History, and the Merseyside Maritime Museum.  The major part of the work is the recording of at least 25 oral history interviews with sea-faring and on-shore staff, some by the volunteers from former staff members. In collecting and making these memories and experiences publicly accessible the intention is to preserve and promote the rich and diverse heritage of the company and the people who worked for it.  It will also enhance public understanding of the interlinked maritime heritage of Liverpool and West Africa. Details of the project are at

The Bradford  Muslim Womens Council head covering project

This project explores female head coverings in the  three Abrahamic faiths as a way of sharing their common heritage and challenging stereotypes that only Muslim women cover their heads. Two staff and 15 volunteers across the faiths were trained as oral historians. The project has enabled women to share their experiences, stories and memories of head coverings and is resulting in a book and a webpage. Volunteers will also retell their stories in schools.

Chorley Mills: An Oral History Project

The project is recording interviews with former mill workers in Chorley, Lancashire with the aim of building up a picture of working lives in the town’s mills from the 1930s to the 1980s when the last mill closed. 15 interviews have been done to date out of a proposed 20-25. The interviews are being made available via the project’s website,  together with archive photographs and documents and an education pack is being produced.

North West (Fiona Cosson and Steve Kelly)

OurManchester OurSelves, Manchester

Young people from the Factory Youth Zone (Manchester) recently used oral history in their project ‘Ourmanchester Ourselves’,  a youth led, Heritage Lottery Funded partnership project between The Factory Youth Zone and Archives+ (facilitated by Open the Door Theatre in Education). The young people which they undertook oral history training from Fiona Cosson, and then carried out oral history interviews which featured as part of their documentary film (with supporting education materials) to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the IRA bombing of the Arndale Centre bombing in June 1996.

Life’s a Drag, Manchester

Created by artist Jez Dolan, Life’s a Drag celebrates the history of drag in Manchester, beginning with the infamous Hulme Drag Ball of 1880, taking you right up to date with Manchester’s current outrageously Gender Queer drag revolution. Life’s a Drag is a year-long project uncovering the secrets of Manchester’s drag stories and histories, through performance, exhibitions, workshops and a drag seminar. As part of the project, volunteers undertook oral history training with Fiona Cosson and then carried out oral history interviews with a range of people connected to the drag scene.

Boomtown Basement Records, Blackburn

Boomtown Basement Records CIC in Blackburn recently completed an HLF-funded project about the fascinating history of acid house and rave scene in the disused mills and abandoned mills of East Lancashire, 1988-1990. The project culminated in a film and exhibition at Blackburn Museum and Galley, featuring oral history interviews, original posters and newspaper articles form the era.

Unheard Voices, Bradford

Earlier this year, the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded a grant to Bradford City FC Community Foundation for their project, Unheard Voices.  The project aims to document the experiences of the ground’s surrounding community of the events of 11th May 1985 at Bradford City Football Stadium. The project will tell the unheard story of how the local BME community helped people on the day of the tragic fire in 1985, and also the stories of the events of the following days. The project began in February 2016, and has recruited and trained volunteers in Oral History skills to enable them to get involved in focus groups and workshops for people to share their memories.  The project will create a book and film about the events of that day.

OUT! Manchester Pride

OUT! is a project celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender histories across Greater Manchester using digital technologies. It is funded by Heritage Lottery Fund and delivered by Manchester Pride. In August 2016, Fiona Cosson worked with project volunteers to train them oral history interviewing techniques so they could undertake oral history interviews for the project. Some recordings will be chosen to feature in the digital exhibition space at Archives+ and will also form part of the OUT! online portal.

History of Place

Accentuate History of Place is a nationally significant social history programme which will chart disabled people’s lives from the middle ages until the late 20th Century in relation to built heritage. The Accentuate History of Place project will investigate and animate eight important built heritage sites, with the objective of elevating this history to greater prominence.  In Liverpool, the focus is on the Royal School for the Blind. In early August in Liverpool, members of the research group and representatives from local heritage organisations gathered for Oral History Training hosted by History of Place and delivered by Fiona Cosson, Manchester Metropolitan University. The project volunteers are currently preparing to undertake interviews with ex-pupils and school staff.


The Granadaland oral history project which is being carried out in conjunction with Manchester Metropolitan University is now in its third year and has recently received further funding which will enable it continue for at least another two years. So far more than 80 interviews with former Granada TV staff members have been recorded. These have all been transcribed and placed on the Granadaland website ( along with photographs and other material related to the history of the company. In May 2016 a one-day conference at Manchester Metropolitan University was held to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Granada and attracted 200 delegates who enjoyed a day of talks, programme viewing and networking. Speakers included some of the biggest names in Granada’s history as well as the daughter of Lord Bernstein, Granada’s founder, who flew in from New York for the occasion. The project’s co-ordinators, Stephen  Kelly and Judith Jones, are also collecting as much material as possible about the company and all this will be archived by the University. A PhD studentship has also been established and a student has been appointed to examine an aspect of the company’s history.

Hogton Tower

A project at Hogton Tower, close to Preston, is collating a history of the spectacular Tudor building and its distinguished role over the last 500 years. The project which is funded by the HLF is primarily collecting data to add to its already extensive archive. Eventually this will be made available for exhibitions and public use. But the project also includes an oral history element which is focused on collecting memories of the building. A training programme has been carried out and a series of interviews are now being recorded with members of the public.

North West (Andrew Schofield)

In the last year ASRaudio has been involved with several oral history projects (mainly funded by HLF) offering training and advice throughout the projects.  Several more are in the pipeline, either in the planning stage or awaiting funding decisions.

Since the demise of North West Sound Archive one of the problems for new projects has been finding somewhere to deposit their recordings where they will be accessible to the public.  Although repositories will accept recording some will only do so on the understanding that they are fully transcribed and catalogued.  In some cases this has been built into the funding bid but in other it has meant that the recordings are only available through the initiating organisation or in the form of extracts online.  Enquiries have also been received from individuals looking for a repository for small collections of recording which they have undertaken as part of an interest in local history or a `hobby’.  Some of these have now been placed in public repositories but unfortunately we are still looking for a home for others.

Below is a brief summary of supported projects:

  • Blacko Primary School  A small project in which pupils have recorded older people’s memories of the school.
  • Sefton Council for Voluntary Services  Recording general memories of Sefton (Merseyside).
  • Quarry Arts  Memories of quarrying in the Clitheroe area.
  • Bacup Pride  Run by Bacup Naturalists recording general memories of the town and surrounding area.
  • Association of Jewish Refugees  Memories of the Jewish community in Greater Manchester.
  • People’s Empowerment and Enrichment Forum  Recollections of the Asian community in Brierfield.
  • Stanhill Village Heritage Project  General memories of the village loosely based on James Hargreaves, inventor of the spinning jenny, who was born in the village.
  • Signed Voices  A project run by Deafway using sign language to capture the memories of deaf people throughout Lancashire.
  • Woodend Mining Museum  Memories of coal mining in the Burnley coalfield.
  • Careladies Organisation  Memories of the Congolese community in Manchester.
  • Pendle Leisure Trust (In Situ Arts)  Clothing and fashion in the Nelson area from the 1950s.
  • Low Moor Reading Room and Club  Memories of Low Moor (Clitheroe) which was originally built as housing for workers at the local textile mill and formed a separate self-sustained community on the outskirts of Clitheroe.

University of Central Lancashire  Two sessions with the photography department linking oral history to photography as a means of interpretation.