After setting up links with potential partners, Judy visited Nuneaton in November 2013 and positive meetings were held with North Warwickshire and Hinckley College, Nuneaton Library, Nuneaton Museum and Chilvers Coton Heritage Centre. Much hard work ensued in putting together a HLF bid, followed by an anxious wait until HLF confirmed they had agreed our bid of £44,900 on 1 May 2014.
Under the conditions of the grant our next step was to advertise the positions of Project Manager and Local Coordinator. We were overwhelmed by the level of response and a three man interviewing panel was established to draw up shortlists and undertake interviews. The result was the formal appointment of Judy as Project Manager and Lorna Stanley as Local Co-ordinator. Lorna had previously been Project Leader for 'Generations Together' an intergenerational project in Reading. Lorna had the experience in community based projects that we were looking to replicate in our project.
The project was formally launched at the JDRF Stadium on 24 October, 2014.
In the months leading up to the launch, a research team of Kevin Brown, John Hobson and Paul Sawyer was set up. They were
primarily responsible for turning manual records into a database for loading up on the Project website by the Spintop Media team at North Warwickshire & Hinckley College. Paul Sawyer quickly became hooked by the early history of the Nuneaton Football spending hours trawling through microfiche records in respect of Nuneaton papers from the 1890-1910 era.
The first of a series of planned ‘Drop in Days’ took place at Nuneaton Library on 14 November 2014 where people were able to visit and share their Nuneaton football memories or memorabilia with us.
A second drop in day at Chilvers Coton Heritage Centre on 23 January 2015 was equally as successful as the first with an array of unique items and memories being shared with us.
Our series of community visits began on 29 January 2015 when pupils from Oak Wood School and college students from North Warwickshire & Hinckley College visited the football club to conduct interviews with key club personnel after which they were treated to a stadium tour.
A week later, on 5 February 2015, our community team took one of our handling boxes to Oak Wood School to enable the pupils to handle a number of football related artefacts and learn more about them.
In March 2015 we continued our community work by handing over to Nuneaton Library the missing programmes that they required to give them a complete collection of Boro programmes dating back to 1985.
Nuneaton Town FC, Andy Pace from the club shop and Mike Turner were instrumental in gathering the programmes together which Senior Librarian, Louise Essex, then arranged to have bound.
Louise said "We are extremely grateful for the recent donation of football programmes to Nuneaton Library organised for us by the From Town to Town project. We had a significant gap in our collection of Boro programmes which has now been filled”.
So how did the 'From Town to Town Heritage Project' evolve?
The Supporters' Co-operative Vice-Chairman, Mike Turner, has been a lifelong Shrewsbury Town supporter, well until his loyalties were challenged upon moving to Nuneaton in 1980. Shrewsbury had been based at the 'Gay Meadow' ground from 1910, until they moved to a new stadium, Greenhouse Meadow in 2007. Mike was aware that the club had celebrated the end of an era by publishing a book entitled 'Goodbye Gay Meadow', containing quality photographs and fans' memories. In addition, the Shrewstrust had created a website 'Shrews Tales and More' as part of a wider project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
At a Co-operative Board meeting in 2013, Mike made fellow Board members aware of the project and asked if the Co-operative could consider doing the same. After all Manor Park had been our home from 1937, until the move to Liberty Way in 2007. The Board were supportive of the idea and the next task was to track down Judy Crabb who had coordinated the Shrewsbury project as well as 6 other sport related projects. With a little help from our friends at Supporters Direct we managed to contact Judy, culminating in John Hobson and Mike travelling to Shrewsbury in July 2013, to discuss their thoughts to Judy at a coffee shop overlooking the river Severn. Our hopes seemed to diminish when Judy explained that her organisation was no longer undertaking any further projects for football clubs due to unreliability of fan groups. However, she told us that she had been impressed with our enthusiasm and commitment and was prepared to assist us in a voluntary role.
On March 21st 2015 we continued our successful series of ‘Drop in Days’ which yet again yielded some great items of memorabilia as well as some fascinating stories from former players and fans. Amongst the many visitors was a former player, Hughie Morrow, who starred for Boro in the early 1950’s and who played for the club against Watford and QPR in the FA Cup.
Friday March 27th 2015 was a landmark day for the project with the official launch of the From Town to Town website. This was the culmination of five months hard work by Alexander Russell and Elliott Wynd-Jennings from North Warwickshire and Hinckley College who worked closely with the project team to design and then build the website from scratch.
On April 17th 2015 we began the process of interviewing the Boro's long-standing fans, capturing both video and audio recordings of their memories. This was a great opportunity for us to experiment with different formats. We were particularly pleased with one recording of two supporters sharing memories together in a more informal style, as this certainly brought up some interesting anecdotes!
We were delighted to support the Chilvers Coton Heritage Centre Open Day on Saturday 18th April. We displayed some of our on loan items as part of a mini-exhibition and met with members of the public, who happily shared their Boro memories with us.
13th May 2015 was a very exciting day for the From Town to Town team. Ken Loach, the famous film-maker has been a fan of the Boro since his childhood, although he no longer lives locally. We were very fortunate to be able to make arrangements to interview Ken during a rare visit to Nuneaton. Local BBC Broadcaster Dave Sharpe kindly conducted the interview. Media students from North Warwickshire and Hinckley College were only too happy to meet a local media hero and to record and edit the material for us.
During May and June 2015, we worked extensively with Queen's Primary School. Some Year 5 pupils received training providing an Introduction to Oral History from Matt Johnson at Nuneaton Museum and Art Gallery. North Warwickshire and Hinckley College students then came into the school to train the children in using the video recording equipment and helped them to film supporters sharing their memories. The Year 5 pupils then went over to Hinckley College to use their specialist equipment and to edit their footage.
Our fourth drop-in day was held on Saturday 25th July 2015, with more people arriving to share their memories and to loan/donate memorabilia. We now have a wonderful collection of artefacts to draw on to create our end of project exhibition.
On 8th October 2015 John Hobson and Lorna Stanley took the memory boxes to the first From Town to Town project session with Escape Arts, which is a Nuneaton-based community arts group. Led by artist Barbara Fidoe, the group members are using our research and memorabilia as stimuli to produce individual textile panels, using techniques such as screen printing, quilting and embroidery. Due for completion by the end of 2015, the individual panels will then be stitched together to produce a large textile piece to be used in our forthcoming exhibitions.
16th October 2015 was a very important day for the From Town to Town team. After hundreds of hours of research, the first two e-books were formally published and made available for download from the From Town to Town website. These two books cover the eras 1889-1894 and 1894-1919; 30 years down, only another 95 to go!
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