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Youngsters delve into Barton’s past for archive project

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: March 27, 2014

  • 17/03/14 Barton archives feature - Barton Library, Barton Feature on Barton archives. Kids from John Taylor School taking part and meeting with project manager Peter Ralley from 1.30pm until 2pm at Barton Library..Sam Wilkinson, James Ruttley

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THE history of Barton under Needwood is set to come to life in a new project aimed at putting together a picture of the past.

A group of youngsters from John Taylor High School are behind The Barton Archives Project, which will see them interviewing older residents in the village to discover more about changes which have taken place over the years.

They are looking to collect memories, items and documents ranging from the 1930s to the 1950s, to build up a picture of what the village was like during that time.

Peter Ralley, who is organising the project, said: “I think people are very aware of the fact that they do have a heritage, and this type of thing puts it into the hands of normal people.

“Ordinary people can get involved in studying their own heritage, and working with younger and older people is a great way to bridge the generation gap.

“We wanted to focus on a narrow time period, and it is interesting. After the 1950s, things changed massively, so this is becoming a really interesting period.”

The project came about following a similar enterprise in Alrewas, which Peter was in charge of.

In that scheme, he and others collected information about the village which could be accessed by the community.

He has the same idea for Barton.

“These areas have become a bit dormitory. We have these rich cultures here, and if we’re not careful, we are going to lose it,” he added.

A group of 12 year nine pupils have been selected to take part in the archiving project, which is being funded by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

They have held a number of sessions so far to collate information, and they are in the process of organising interviews with residents in the village – some of whom have lived their whole lives there.

When their research is complete, the group will put together a book, which will be distributed free to all the households in the village, along with a film.

Peter predicted that around 3,000 books will be produced.

There will also be a digital archive made up of all the information which has been collected, which will be based at the library in Barton.

It is the first time the school has ever become involved with something of this sort, after Peter, whose connections with the school go back some time, approached them and said he would support them in submitting a bid.

Several months, and a £25,000 grant later, they were able to start the project.

The pupils who have been chosen are among the most gifted at the school – and it is something which will help them no end, according to one of their teachers.

Tom Bithell told the Mail: “It’s great for them because they have a real interest in the community, and it’s great for the residents of Barton.

“Bartonians are very proud of the village and residents take pride in its heritage. It’s a very special place, and the school wants to take the opportunity to celebrate that through history with this archives project.”

Peter has nothing but praise for the young people who have come under his charge.

The research will look at four main areas – places, education, employment and recreation.

A small number of drop in sessions have been organised for people to share their memories, but the work has not yet started in earnest.

That will happen at an archives open day, which is due to take place at the school, on Dunstall Road, on May 18.

Peter predicts the project will take around 12 months to complete.

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