It’s the big launch of Middleton Life local history project this week!

Did you know this area used to house Middleton’s tram tracks? The Middleton Life crew does!

A group of South Leeds residents have become local history reporters and investigated the rich past of their community.

The hard work of Members of the Middleton Life project will be celebrated at a special event at Tenants Hall Enterprise Centre on Thursday, July 12 when exhibition panels they’ve helped put together will be unveiled.

Led by volunteers from the local community, Middleton Life earlier this year received £49,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The project aimed to empower residents to tell the history of the area and people’s life stories.

It has focused on four key areas of Middleton’s history – family life, working conditions and the significant changes in health and medical care at a number of key points in history.

Not only have they put together panels celebrating Middleton’s history at the new £1.6 million Tenants Hall Enterprise Centre, they’ve interviewed their fellow residents about their memories and captured them for a special 20-minute  film.

The community-based reporters are also writing a special Middleton heritage edition of South Leeds Life community magazine, which will be distributed free to the local community.

With support from Cockburn School, some members are also putting together a small stained glass window, and pupils at nearby Middleton Primary School are designing a special Middleton tapestry. Both will be displayed at the centre.

The Middleton Arms is touched upon in Middleton Life

As part of the background research for the project, members have also been on trips to Middleton Woods and Middleton Railway to explore the area’s rich mining and industrial heritage, to Thackray Medical Museum and the National Coalmining Museum.

Fiona Spiers, Head of HLF Yorkshire and the Humber, said:

“The Middleton Life project has provided wonderful opportunities for local people to get actively involved in heritage, engage with their community and learn new skills.

“By looking back at the changes in Middleton, volunteers have developed a deeper understanding about their local area which will be shared with the wider community through the interpretation panels and South Leeds Life magazine.”

One of the community reporters, Martin Bartholomew, from Middleton, said:

“We’ve had a really interesting time, researching Middleton’s history, interesting trips out and interviewing our fellow residents and collating their memories. I’ve learnt a lot about our community I didn’t know before.”

John Baron, of local charity Health For All, which has run the project, said:

“It’s been great the way the community has come together – and really fun unpeeling the incredibly rich history and heritage that Middleton hosts. Organisations like Friends of Middleton Park have given up their time to help the project and we’re very grateful.”

For more details about Middleton Life, or Thursday’s launch event, contact John Baron on 0113 270 6903.