How has the past shaped the place you live and what are your memories of those bygone days?
What changes have you seen in your street and your neighbourhood? What do you remember fondly and what are you pleased to have resigned to history? We’d love to capture your stories and photographs to share in this new feature that celebrates our communities through the years.
And once you start remembering, who knows where that could lead? The beginnings of a family tree Regular telephone storytelling with grandchildren? A newly organised photograph album?
Tips for capturing your memories
Tell favourite stories aloud. Try recalling some of your favourite memories next time you’re on the phone to a friend or family member. This helps to add structure to fragmented memories and makes them easier to write down later
Be specific. Add as many relevant details as you can when sharing a memory. Paint a picture of sights, sounds, smells and feelings.
Use photos, newspaper cuttings, letters, diaries and other keepsakes to trigger memories. Take a stroll around the neighbourhood with a notepad at hand to jot down thoughts that come to mind.
- Try some questions or writing prompts to bring memories to mind. Try searching the #52stories project online for some great ideas. For example: Describe the house, neighbourhood and town where you grew up. If you still live there or have been back, what has changed for the better and what do you wish had remained the same? What memories do you have of your parents, siblings, friends and neighbours? What places and pastimes did you enjoy? Describe some of the major community, national or world events that you lived through – how did they shape your life?
- Record it. Keep your memories however you like: on notes on your phone, on a computer, by voice recording. If you’d like to share your memories with your family, your handwriting could be something they’d really treasure.
A town transformed
It’s 40 years since Consett steelworks closed. Mining works, blast furnaces and cooling towers have now been replaced with new industrial sites, retail parks, urban parks, walkways and new housing.
Our own Elaine Dixon, a Customer Accounts Officer, made history when, aged 18, she handed over a petition to Margaret Thatcher after a march with fellow workers to try to save the site. She recalls her memories of that day…
I was born and bred in Consett and I still live there. My whole family worked in the steelworks. My dad worked in the billet mills, my mam was a chef and my first job was as an office junior. All my aunties and uncles worked there too. That wasn’t unusual – most families were the same.
My abiding memory of that day was stepping out of 10 Downing Street and being besieged by journalists and photographers with all their cameras flashing. It was a reminder that we were doing something important but I think we all knew in our hearts that the works wouldn’t be saved.
People genuinely thought Consett would become a ghost town. That young people like me were
having their futures stolen from them and that the closure would kill the town. But Consett fought back.
The regeneration has been incredible. The Genesis Project has made Consett a success story. The town is bigger than it was then, there are jobs and we’re attracting people from outside of the area.
The silence was really noticeable when the buzzing sound of the works stopped. There’s no more red dust in the air these days, you can put your washing out and it still comes in clean! People no longer work in such dirty and dangerous jobs and Decent Homes Standards means living standards have massively improved.
On the surface lots has changed but the spirit of the community is still the same. You still get three generations of families living in the same street and the special strength that this brings.
Do you remember the steelworks? We’re working with local group History of Consett Steelworks on a project to record memories. Search History of Consett Steelworks on Facebook to get involved.
How to get involved
Start by taking a look at our top tips and then get in touch with us on our usual number 0808 164 0111 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
We can’t wait to hear from you!