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Skills, Schools, Stories


This part of the programme involved recording the memories and memorabilia of older residents and former residents of the Ancoats area. Subtitled 'All Work and No Play?', the archive is intended to celebrate the great sense of community in Ancoats and to rekindle that community spirit through intergenerational activities and celebrations. A group of volunteers completed a programme of training in interviewing techniques and photograph scanning at the Greater Manchester County Record Office and the North West Sound Archive. They identified people to interview and visited them in their homes. Over forty recordings have been transcribed. Some have been used to support exhibitions about Ancoats life, as part of the Skills, Schools and Stories project and in Manchester galleries, including the Manchester People's History Museum. A few sound clips from the interviews can be accessed on the Extracts page of this website.

Selections of these recordings have been published in a book, "All Work and No Play? - An Ancoats Scrapbook". This is a quality publication on the oral history of Ancoats, packed with over 60 pages of photographs, quotations and colourful insights into the home life and playgrounds of sixty years ago.

View an online version of the book.

The focus of the book is on the fun times that were had by local people. Editor Brian Holmshaw said:

 There has been a lot of emphasis placed on how difficult life was in Ancoats and how hard the work was. It's true of course, but outside of school and work, a large chunk of Ancoats people's lives was spent relaxing. The interviewees have been marvellous - there are some natural storytellers, and I hope that we've been able to show some of the sheer diversity of working people's leisure time alongside the obvious poverty of the area.

Project Manager Jennifer Gosling said:

 The Skills, Schools and Stories community project is a unique and imaginative way to bring heritage to life. It has provided an opportunity for people of all ages to explore the vibrant history of Ancoats and engage in its exciting regeneration. Those that have participated and volunteered their time have contributed to the project's enormous success.It has been an honour to work with such a diverse range of people and we hope that the experience has been memorable for all involved.

Free copies of the book were made available to former and present local residents in Ancoats. Unfortunately, we have now run out of copies to hand out, but copies of the book have been given to every public library in Manchester.

Original recordings, transcripts and images will be archived with Greater Manchester County Record Office and the North West Sound Archive.

Local resident at Murrays' Mills

Ancoats street scene, credit Christina Ames Rocca

Volunteers scanning photographs

Ladies on a day out, credit Frank Doyle

Contributors at publication launch

Contributors at publication launch


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