I’m really excited that Harrison Architectural Heritage has been successful in its bid for a Wakefield Culture Grant from Wakefield Council. Having worked extensively with communities in Leeds, I am keen to work with people from Eastmoor in Wakefield where I live and work. The project – 180 years of Eastmoor: its people and their houses – combines my passions for architectural heritage, social history and community engagement, and closely fits the grant criteria to engage communities who do not traditionally get involved in creative and cultural projects.
Eastmoor was a small settlement centred on Stanley Road in Victorian times, and much of it was cleared in the early twentieth century. There is consequently relatively little architectural evidence and its social history is fading. The mid-twentieth century council estate built to the East of that settlement was a planned estate, but neither the masterplan nor the architectural drawings survive. It is timely to carry out research into the architectural and social history of the estate as the houses naturally evolve to accommodate the lifestyles of residents, and the lives of the earliest residents will soon be out of living memory.
The project will begin in September with a series of seven workshops which are primarily aimed at current residents of Eastmoor. The exciting range of activities will introduce newcomers to the resources and techniques of architectural and social research, from archive documents and historic maps to architectural surveying / mapping, online research and participation in oral history interviews and focus groups. More experienced participants will have the opportunity to take their research further and develop existing skills. I have partnered with key organisations in the area to deliver the programme, including West Yorkshire History Centre, Wakefield Library and St Swithun’s Community Centre to ensure a high quality delivery.
The workshops are:
- Research skills, house histories and Eastmoor (West Yorkshire History Centre)
- The architectural character of Victorian Eastmoor (Wakefield Library)
- The social history of Victorian Eastmoor (Wakefield Library)
- The masterplan of the council estate and the designs of its houses (architectural surveying / mapping)
- Life in the early years of the estate (oral history interviews)
- Changes to house design to accommodate the needs of later residents (online / resident knowledge)
- Life on the estate now (focus group)
The findings of the research will be showcased in a small exhibition which will be hosted at Wakefield Library and St. Swithun’s Community Centre in February and March 2024, and a new resource will be offered to the West Yorkshire History Centre and Wakefield Library – a colour coded map showing the location of the different housing designs on the estate. A webpage for the project will also be hosted by Harrison Architectural Heritage to ensure accessibility and longevity.