People who lived, worked or shopped in a popular Wakefield street are being asked to share their memories for a new heritage project.
Wakefield Council has teamed up with Wakefield Historical Society, Wakefield Civic Society and Leeds Beckett University to uncover the story of Wood Street, in the city centre.
The Heart of Wakefield project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and aims to uncover the stories of the people who lived or worked on the historic street.
Wood Street is home to many historic buildings including Wakefield Town Hall, the former Wakefield Magistrates’ Court and the former Police Station. The project is aiming to find out more about the street’s beginnings, how it developed and what happened there.
People can find out about the project by dropping into Wakefield Town Hall’s Kingswood Suite on Wednesday, October 12 from 2pm-6pm for an informal chance to meet researchers and share their own memories and photos. They can also become more actively involved in the longer term by offering to become volunteers.
Coun Denise Jeffery, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Skills, said: “This is a very exciting project and I hope lots of people will get involved and share their experiences of living or working on Wood Street, which is home to many beautiful buildings.
“It’s very important that we don’t lose people’s stories and memories as these add to the rich and varied social history of one of our most historic streets. So please come along and have a chat with the project team.”
Fiona Spiers, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “Wood Street is at the heart of Wakefield and has played a vital part in the history of the city. This project will preserve this heritage by bringing its stories to life, letting everyone get involved and share their past.”
Photos of the area’s past and present will be on display, and the project team will be giving short talks about some of the stories they’ve already discovered.
Visitors will also have the opportunity to take part in activities in the future such as contributing to oral history interviews and workshops.
Wakefield-based creative community engagement experts, Faceless Arts, are supporting the project, helping the partners engage with local communities to draw out some lesser known tales of the street using creative reminiscence sessions over the next year. The collated stories will be retold through a dedicated website and touring exhibition, co-created with young people from Wakefield.
Artist Helen Thomas has already worked with young people at The Springfield Centre to create silk paintings of the main buildings on Wood Street, which will be on display at the launch and form part of the designs for the Wood Street Heritage Project. It is hoped that they can work with other community groups to draw out some of their interesting stories as the project progresses.
Charlie Wells, Creative Producer: Community Engagement at Faceless Arts, said: “Wood Street is so centrally placed that I am sure that almost every family in the Wakefield area has a link to the road. Whether it was someone who worked for the law, was a bit of a black sheep or was just known to frequent the Inns of Court, there are stories to be told.
“We know there are lots of fascinating anecdotes as well as life changing tales, and we really want these stories to be told and kept for future generations to appreciate.”