Middleton Life: First workshop reveals community history

[slideshow]Delving through old photographs of Middleton on the internet and pinning memories of the community’s past in large maps were all featured in the first workshop of the Middleton Life local history project this week.

The workshop, at Tenants Hall Enterprise Centre, also saw group members learn how to use Flip video cameras for when they interview people about their memories of the area.

A fabulous map of 1931 Middleton was also brought in and sparked much discussion.

Here’s what the group discovered:

  • People started coming to Middleton in the 1930s from Hunslet for the good of their health – there was fresh air here and it was nice and clean. Hunslet and Beeston had the jobs, men from Middleton worked there. The jam factory in Beeston was a major employer.
  • Moorhouse Jam Factory in Beeston – in the summer apparently you could smell strawberries in Middleton?
  • There is a fishing community in the park/lake and has been for a long time
  • There use to be 10 stone cottages on one side of the lake
  • A tram system used to go through the woods – there were beautiful views. Christine Thornton took the number 12 tram from school.
  • Christine was part of St John’s (boys and girls were separate)  – they took trips all over the country
  • Football pitches  ‘Farmer Wards’ in the park were discussed – but don’t exist any more?
  • Hunslet is where all would go play rugby matches
  • There was a ‘Tardis’-style police box where the new clinic is, the old clinic is now the car park
  • Open shelter in the park use to be popular
  • There was a battle of boundaries in the 1100’s (Adam De Beeston)
  • General tension between Belle Isle and Middleton was mentioned. Some people from Middleton do not use the ‘hub’ because it is in Belle Isle. Locals are referred to as Miggyites and Middleton as Miggy.

John, meanwhile, paid a visit to the good folks at Middleton Railway to meet some of the volunteers there and discover some of the incredible history attached to the railway – apparently Middleton gave the world steam railways! Middleton Life will be running a Saturday trip there, possibly in April.

There’s no workshop next week due to the half-term holidays. The following Wednesday there will be a trip to Thackray Medical Museum, departing Tenants Hall at 10.15am, setting off back at 2pm. Foir more information, contact John Baron on 270 6903 or email john.baron@healthforall.org.uk