The “It” is the Barton and Tredworth community heritage website, an outcome of the Hidden Lives project of 2011-12 in which the Archives was a partner. The site was created using a bespoke platform designed by Community Sites, who specialize in assisting local communities to create their own web sites. However the format wasn’t ideal for the wider range of devices that can now access web sites, so Community Sites have just converted it into a WordPress based site.
Barton and Tredworth are distinct areas within the City of Gloucester. Long term residents feel a sense of belonging that has developed over several generations, but more recently an influx of people from many communities has led to a very cosmopolitan feel, particularly in Barton Street with its wide range of shops catering for several different nationalities.
The Heritage Lottery funded Hidden Lives project, and the website that grew out of it, aimed to reflect both the sense of place and the feeling of change that is at the heart of these two communities. There is much to appreciate and enjoy in the material that the web site presents, but these are just a few highlights:
At bartonandtredworth.org.uk/content/living-barton-tredworth/memories/alan-myatt you can hear memories of Gloucester’s legendary town crier, including how Mr Toad came to take over the airwaves! Another born entertainer is John Thornell, who shares his passion for the Picturedrome Theatre in Barton Street with humorous tales of his youth at bartonandtredworth.org.uk/content/place/picturedrome1/john-thornell.
The website features many more memories of childhood in the area. Amongst the memories of Rachel Williams is a touching digital story, created out of words and pictures of her time appearing in youth theatre productions, (bartonandtredworth.org.uk/content/living-barton-tredworth/wartime-in-barton-and-tredworth/rachel-williams).
Newer residents share their own thoughts about coming to Gloucester in other digital stories. Carlton Green came from Jamaica in the 1960s, and his story reflects his love of photography, climaxing with a truly stunning sunset scene with the railway station as a backdrop (bartonandtredworth.org.uk/content/living-barton-tredworth/blackhistorymonth/carlton-green).
Nowadays Mark Cunningham is best known as the driving force behind the Sherborne Cinema in Kingsholm, but he has close connections with the Barton and Tredworth areas, and shares some of his superb local pen and ink drawings in his story (bartonandtredworth.org.uk/content/working-in-barton-and-tredworth/mark-cunningham).
Perhaps the most moving digital story created for the project is Nasreen Akhtar’s. Nasreen worked in the Barton area as the County’s Ethnic Services Librarian. Her thought-provoking story concerns moving to England from the Punjab in 1978, with all her belongings collected into one suitcase (bartonandtredworth.org.uk/content/working-in-barton-and-tredworth/nasreen-akhtar).
Mahmoud Patel’s entertaining memories of coming to Gloucester from Barbados in 1961 have recently featured on Pete Wilson’s Radio Gloucestershire show. Mahmoud’s story was made into a piece of theatre as part of the Hidden Lives project, and you can view this, and the theatrical performances created and performed by young actors based on the memories of other residents, at bartonandtredworth.org.uk/content/about/about-us/hidden_lives_of_barton_and_tredworth_theatrical_performance.
This isn’t the only example of live performance on the site. Check out the performance of the band The Saxons, filmed live in Tredworth High Street in 1965 (bartonandtredworth.org.uk/content/place/buildings-and-places-general/tredworth-high-street-1965). If that doesn’t sate your appetite for music videos, bringing us much more up to date is the video at bartonandtredworth.org.uk/content/living-barton-tredworth/memories/back_in_the_day. This was created by young people as part of the Back in the Day project, in which they investigated the history of Barton and Eastgate Streets. The project also led to the creation of an orchestral piece composed by Tier 5 Music, which is also on that web page.
The website presents a range of experiences and stories. Why not give it a try, and feel free to add your own content if you’d like. You can find out how at bartonandtredworth.org.uk/content/about/about-us/get-involved-2/how-to-contribute.