Manchester School of Art staff and students collaborate on heritage project

Have you ever considered the creative opportunities provided by working on a heritage project? Second year student Harriet Redfearn from Manchester School of Art has been doing just that. In a recent blog, she describes how she chose a placement working as a research assistant alongside Jenny Walker, who's leading a project to collect and preserve the memories of those associated with the city's London Road fire station. 

Benjamin Green, photograph of detail from London Road fire station, 2017.

Benjamin Green, photograph of detail from London Road fire station, 2017.

Built in the early 1900s, it was much more than just a fire station: it was part of a thriving community that include homes for forty-two firemen and their families, a police station, a coroner’s court, a bank, a club room, a gym, workshops, and more. Its current owners, Allied London, plan to lease spaces to be converted into a variety of commercial uses, including a hotel, restaurants and apartments. Before that happens, staff and students from Manchester School of Art have been given an opportunity to visit the site and gather inspiration for creative projects related to the fire station's history. 

Alicia Hill, photograph of former resident of London Road fire station being interviewed for project, 2017

Alicia Hill, photograph of former resident of London Road fire station being interviewed for project, 2017

Over the last month, Harriet has been focusing on recording interviews with former residents on site, often in the flats they used to live in. She's also been collecting and documenting old newspapers, fragments of vintage wallpaper and other physical material that may provide evidence of what life was like at London Road Fire Station.

Harriet Redfearn, photograph of sample of vintage wallpaper in former flat at London Road fire station, 2017.

Harriet Redfearn, photograph of sample of vintage wallpaper in former flat at London Road fire station, 2017.

Her documented findings, together with the photographs, written material and objects that those she interviewed were willing to share, will be digitised in order that the memories they made at London Road Fire Station can be preserved. In this way, future students will also be able to draw upon them for creative inspiration.

With all the redevelopment going on in Birmingham, perhaps you might consider a similar project?