Our first venture into heritage was in a partnership with Age UK (Redditch) and Trinity High School when we partnered in a grant from Redditch Borough Council.
We trained the pupils in interviewing techniques and they then went out and about the town interviewing some of the elderly residents about their Redditch WWII memories. The gathered memories were transformed by the young people into a short play, with the aid of Andy Higgitt, director of Jestaminute Community Theatre c.i.c.
Our experience in this type of work led to an approach from Redditch Local History Society to do an oral history project about memories of Redditch Residents in the period through the war and until the declaration of the new town. We were funded by The Heritage Lottery Fund to run ‘Engineering the Past ‘. This in turn led us to run another HLF funded project exploring the next part of the town’s history – the new town development years ‘Redditch The Start of Something Big’.
Redditch - the Start of Something Big
Redditch 1964 – the Start of Something Big’ was an oral history project which focused on the heritage of Redditch as it became a new town between 1964 and 1989.The overarching aim was to engage people in their local heritage; collecting, preserving, interpreting and sharing local heritage through the capturing of memories through inter-generational recordings and showcasing these in community hubs, local schools and through community events.
“Jestaminute have delivered the project professionally throughout despite at times unexpected personal and professional challenges. The experience and knowledge of the previous HLF project has allowed Jestaminute to deliver this project with greater ambition, confidence and vision. I have been particularly impressed by their professional delivery of the project and their resolve at managing challenges along the way. The school and Palace Theatre events were both excellent, with many favourable comments from those attending.”
Redditch Borough Council Steering Group Representative
Engineering the Past
The project focused on the oral history of the industrial heritage of Redditch 1939-1964. This period was immediately before a major change to the town’s industry when in 1964 it was designated as a New Town. The year 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of this significant event, the project was programmed to dovetail with events in the community to celebrate this milestone and hence maximise opportunities for sharing the findings.
“The training workshops worked well and the project retained volunteers who attended and who went onto interview local people to record their memories of working in various industries.” Archive & Archeology Service, WCC
A brand new play ‘Parachute Pants’, which shared the war-time reminiscences , was performed the Palace Theatre.
The play was well received by the audience, including the interviewees who were invited to attend.
“It was a very enjoyable afternoon. The elderly residents had a great time and it also taught the students what it was to live in war time. It was a truly great way to bring the different age groups together for an afternoon of laughter and education.” Mayor – Cllr Anita Clayton.