Find out about the activities the young people were involved in to share the stories with you.
Starting in Summer 2018, 35 young people based at Central Community Centre in Swindon’s historic Railway Village began a project to create artworks inspired by the heritage around them and share these with the local community.
‘Sharing Swindon’s Story’ focused on the community and cultural heritage of our town, linked to the first generations of
‘New Swindonians’ and the Mechanics’ Institution.
The project was designed and led by 11 – 16 year olds from the local youth club and was funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund (with thanks to National Lottery players) and the Police & Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire & Swindon.
It was coordinated by the Mechanics’ Institution Trust.
For the first two weeks of the project the young people explored the town and its history, visiting heritage sites and archives to uncover stories they were interested in. This included a guided tour of the Railway Village and visit to the Railway Village Museum, interviews and oral history recordings with Swindon’s railway workers and local history buffs, research trips to Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre in Chippenham and Swindon Local Studies at Central Library, and visits to the County Ground and ATB Skatepark to look at how sporting culture in Swindon has developed – and have some fun!
For the next part of the project (the final two weeks of the school summer holidays) the young people began to create artworks using the material and stories they learned about during the research weeks. This included a mural, working with Gwen and Karen, which was then fastened to the hoardings of the Mechanics’ Institution, a theatre production working with Prime Theatre, a TV programme / short documentary working with Viewpoint Community Media, and this website!
At the end of the Summer holidays, the young people held a ‘Show & Tell’ event as part of Heritage Open Days (a national celebration of local heritage sites), where members of the local community were invited to bring along items and photographs from Swindon’s past and to share stories relating to it. It was also a chance for the young people to show off their mural for the first time!
After the summer holidays the young people continued to work on their TV programme and website through the weekly youth club.
‘Life of a Railway Worker’ depicts the life of Swindon railway workers growing up in the 1950s and 60s and how local life was then
compared to how it is now. They also edited a second short film to record what they did on their project and continued to rehearse for their theatre show!
When Autumn half term came, it was time for their theatre piece to be shown to the public! The young people held two performances of
‘If Walls Could Talk’ at The Platform, which received brilliant feedback from those who attended…
One ex-railway worker said it made him shed a tear.
After a rest over winter, the young people came back together to produce a second mural to finish off the South side of the Mechanics’ hoardings. This mural gave the opportunity for new young people to take part in the project, too. Over the Easter holiday they worked with Artsite to produce the mural, which has now also been fastened to the hoardings – please be sure to go and take a look at the wonderful work they’ve produced!
The final part of this project is the launch of this website which shares the stories and material the young people uncovered. Please take a look at ‘The Stories’ section and please be sure to tell us what you think and what you learned! This will help the young people know how successful their project was and to tell our funders too. It will also help us create more projects like this is the future.
This project would not have been possible without the support of our partner organisations and artists… With thanks to: