Tales of Miles Platting – a story telling project

A Pocketful of Treasure has story telling at its heart, here is another story telling project that Sharon worked on, ‘Tales of Miles Platting’.

Miles Platting is an area rich in industrial history from the 19th Century, with a thriving busy community living there. It has the Rochdale canal running through, with the still used Victoria Mill dominating the landscape along with the Gas towers.

The area went into decline in the middle of the twentieth century, with the loss of industries, it then became one of the most deprived areas in Manchester. It has since benefited from the urban regeneration scheme for east Manchester initiated in the late 1990s.

There is still lots of new house building going on, with interesting strong grass roots initiatives happening; the community run shop being one of them.

Celebration event  - photo credit Martina Magill


The Project started in 2017 with Miles Platting Age Friendly Neighbourhood Board (MPAFN) in Partnership with Sarah Spanton, Director of Waymarking. Initially the Board funded a project called Creative Connections, a group of local residents including Board members came together to start community research into the neighbourhood and also to gather Tales of Miles Platting at a range of different community events.

This lead to the ‘Tales of Miles Platting’ a free creative and social programme, which brought older people from across the Miles Platting area together to creatively celebrate the past, present and future of the neighbourhood, through story-telling, poetry, music, performance and art.

The Board brought in local resident, creative writer Al Keogh and myself visual artist (Sharon Campbell), I’m almost local at AWOL Studios, on Pollard Street East, to help deliver the project.

The project had a yearlong history at the point I became involved.

I was invited to interview at a meeting with the board and connected parties, to run participative drop in workshops informing visuals I would create to represent the ‘Tales of Miles Platting’ within a large book, as written by many residents of Miles Platting.

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I knew I would enjoy the job, when I walked into the Trinity Methodist Church, for the interview and was greeted by at least 20 faces, from the Age Friendly board of Miles Platting and supporting organisations. Seeing how involved the community was, grass roots up, so to speak, I knew I wanted the job and would enjoy it!

I saw the depth of the projects reach before I really got stuck in, at an unexpectedly large turn out at the Community Library event launching the Workshops.

Now the project has ended, I have been thinking of how one measures its success?

There has been evidential systems to evaluate in place from the beginning, but for me its small moments in time and incidences that tell you, yes this is good.

Here is one such moment: At the ending Celebration Performance Event of ‘The Tales Of Miles Platting’ it was obviously again by the turn out, just how successful the Project had become. Residents and the board had become involved in many aspects including performing elements of the Tales that had been told. For myself the pinnacle being a Man in his 70’s performing his own poetry, in a nightie, receiving loud applause. You know then the glue of community has been put in place for a legacy to exist.

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The value of a ‘glued together community’ is invaluable in the given benefits of friendship, feeling of safety, a sense of belonging and the ownership of one’s home area. I also see these as very valuable, hence my keenness to work within community environments, in the capacity as a socially engaged artist, aiming to support projects that actively promote the above through a creative process.

Of course I massively enjoy working with people, from which I too benefit, on many levels. I ‘feel part of something real’ it keeps me grounded, based on the diverse and often difficult circumstances I have witnessed. I do find it hard work, usually with tight deadlines, small budgets, learning new skills from scratch at speed and vast amounts of lateral thinking, but the laughter and camaraderie with new people and other artists is brilliant!


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