The Castleford Heritage Project

Lead Research Organisation: Sheffield Hallam University
Department Name: Faculty of Arts Computing Eng and Sci


Context of research

This project will develop new opportunities for community heritage groups within the Castleford region of West Yorkshire, with a specific focus on Fryston. A 112-year tradition of coal production in Fryston was ended in 1985, and the area is still suffering from the effects of industrial decline, high unemployment and poor scholastic attainment.
Fryston Colliery was sunk on land forming part of the ancestral estate of the famous Victorian politician and literary figure, Lord Houghton. Lord Houghton was engaged to Florence Nightingale, a regular visitor to Fryston Hall, along with historical figures as Disraeli, Thackray, the explorer Richard Burton and Prince Edward. The area's rich heritage represents a fertile basis for developing relevant research projects.

Aims and objectives

To provide community heritage groups with the opportunity to forge partnerships with researchers from Sheffield Hallam University (SHU). We will use a combination of open days and online mechanisms to maximise participation and ensure that as many people as possible have the opportunity to contribute. Objectives include:

1. Organise 3 open days (in May-June 2012), with Castleford Heritage Trust (CHT), inviting local community groups, individuals and organisations to collaborate in the instigation and development of an online heritage site and/or other multimedia resources, and to provide academic support to develop proposals for Heritage Lottery Funded activities, thereby contributing to cultural regeneration.
2. Introduce archival material in the research team's possession and demonstrate the academic, practical & organisational skills and experience of the research team in such areas as: web design, social media, digital inclusion, community regeneration, print and broadcast journalism, film-making, photography, art exhibition and creative writing.
3. Allow people to discuss their preferred ways of representing their heritage, and to arrive at a viable project proposal that will form the basis of a grant application to the HLF.
4. Develop a website with the intention of screening video presentations and blogs for keeping potential participants well-informed, and to encourage a continuous sharing of views.
5. Work with CHT to generate press releases, meet local media, design and distribute leaflets, and engage in other forms of publicity and dissemination.
6. Aspire to the goal of equipping local people with the skills, opportunities and enthusiasm to explore and help document their cultural heritage in as many exciting and innovative ways as possible.

Applications and benefits

A benefit of this project will be that the partnership of CHT and SHU will ensure that Fryston's heritage is represented as a mining history which saw the village achieve regional and national prominence for its sporting prowess, pioneering social welfare reforms (such as the inception of a transport scheme for disabled miners), and a unique brand of community endeavour which allowed miners to build a sports arena in the space of several days.

An online repository of community heritage will be developed as a result of these open days. This will help to restore a sense of community identity and confidence among villagers and residents of neighbouring housing estates in Airedale, Ferry Fryston and Townville, and enable current and former inhabitants and workers, their friends and relatives to 'reconnect' following decades of enforced separation. The online site could be a repository of archives, histories, film, 'virtual guides' to sites of industrial, historical and natural import; and could be used in conjunction with separate artefacts - e.g. a radio broadcast, oral tourist guide, or book in a day, as pioneered by Yorkshire Arts Circus.

The Castleford Heritage project is intended as a precedent for similar heritage initiatives within other former industrial areas throughout the UK.

Planned Impact

Who will benefit

The research is likely to prove most beneficial to the following people and institutions:

* residents and former residents of Fryston (and the neighbouring estates of Airedale and Ferry Fryston); their extended families
* non-residents of Fryston who may have nonetheless worked down the mine; their extended families
* the general publics of Castleford and other former mining areas
* the Castleford Heritage Trust; other community based charities and regeneration agencies
* local libraries and museums (including the National Coal Mining Museum in Wakefield)
* schools and colleges
* historical societies
* sports clubs (especially the local soccer and rugby teams)
* natural history and environmental improvement groups
* young people's organisations (e.g. scouts and brownies)
* local media
* potential visitors and tourists to the Castleford area
* heritage companies
* local retailers who might be in a position to take advantage of the enhanced trade
* the Heritage Lottery Fund, who will receive better applications for their funding, guided by researcher involvement.

How they might benefit

Current and former residents of Fryston, Airedale and Ferry Fryston will have the opportunity to use social media mechanisms in such a way as to reconnect with friends, relatives and neighbours and revitalise a shared sense of community. They will have the capacity to contribute to a constantly developing local oral history and discover aspects of their own heritage of which they were previously unaware. We anticipate that a recently depleted sense of local identity, shared heritage, collective confidence and self-esteem will be reconstituted with corresponding benefits for people's health and well-being, and for relations between younger and older generations. We are optimistic that the project will serve as a template and inspiration for communities in similar former industrial heartlands up and down the country.

It is further anticipated that members of the local general public will be able to acquire and apply transferable skills in TV and film production, press and broadcast journalism, marketing and publicity, photography, exhibition and event management, creative writing, interviewing, public speaking, web design and maintenance and practicing social media.

The benefits accruing to local groups, institutions and societies are also likely to prove considerable. The project will provide countless opportunities for local schools, colleges and organised groups for young people to undertake relevant projects and develop corresponding communication skills. It will provide complementary outlets and the potential for a sharing of resources (such as archives, displays and collections resulting from the project) with libraries in the Wakefield, Pontefract and Castleford areas, and there is an undoubted potential for a mutually beneficial relationship with Pontefract Museum and the National Mining Museum located at Wakefield's Caphouse Colliery.

The project will also present countless opportunities for local government, charitable organisations, historical societies, environmental groups, sports clubs and other community organisations to contribute content, publicise their work and achievements and gain financial and practical support. Wakefield County Council and relevant regeneration agencies stand to benefit from the enhanced public relations exposure resulting from the project, and there is the related possibility that inward investment will increase alongside improvements in the area's self-image. It is easy to see how an undertaking of this nature might encourage a mutually beneficial relationship with the local media. Finally, there is a long-term possibility that the project will result in greater numbers of visitors to the Castleford area, thereby enhancing local retail trade and creating a small market for the souvenir industry.


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Description The project revealed a tremendous desire among diverse communities from different regions of the county to record, represent or commemorate their cultural heritage. The award, and the associated involvement of researchers, acted as a catalyst which helped members of the community to step forward and reveal their heritage in the form of personal reminiscences, photographs and other artefacts. This act of sharing helped to rekindle a sense of community in neighbourhoods which have become socially fragmented (and often 'divided') in the face of trying economic circumstances.

As a result of the All Our Stories initiative, Fryston AFC worked with local secondary school pupils to produce a 40-minute DVD ('Coal, Goals and Ashes') to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the club's historic victory in the 1963 final of the prestigious West Riding County Football Association Challenge Cup. Meanwhile, Friends of Fryston Wood worked alongside local primary schoolchildren and community enthusiasts to use video footage and archival material as the basis of an online heritage archive of the wood and its adjoining communities.

The research has also had the important effects of empowering, inspiring and up-skilling sections of the population with little or no formal education or qualifications. The individuals concerned not only now harbour fresh confidence but are also acquiring the requisite practical and academic ability with which to perform an important service for their wider communities. The coming together of academics and community groups has helped to create a firmer and more lasting mutual regard.
Exploitation Route The project clearly demonstrated the positive potential of the All Our Stories initiative to engage members of local communities, and highlighted the evident benefits to participants on both a community and personal level. The outcomes of the project show a clear need for the provision of similar projects, which can play a crucial role in promoting community spirit, and in empowering and up-skilling members of the participating communities. The experiences of the local groups engaged in the project also emphasised a vital need to carefully consider the longer term strategic aims of such community heritage initiatives. The application for a second round of funding to continue the work of the fledgling community projects was unfortunately unsuccessful, and the local groups felt that the success of their projects relied heavily on the support and mentoring of the academic institution they had come to trust and depend on. As a result of the moral obligation that the institution felt towards the community groups they had been working with, they continued to support the projects on an unfunded basis.
Sectors Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description A website has now been set up ('Fryston Memories' : ) by Friends of Fryston Woods. A DVD, depicting the history of Fryston AFC has been produced and posted on You Tube.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural

Description Fryston and Castleford Community Events 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A series of three community events were held (on 11th May, 9th June and 6th July 2012) to raise local awareness of the 'All Our Stories' funded project, and to encourage people in the area to get involved and to share their own knowledge about the history of the area.

Significant increase in involvement in the local community, and numerous donations of historical artefacts (photographs, documents etc.)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012