Thursday, 5 December 2013

Tales of Warley Woods

If you're a big fan of Warley Woods (like we are!) this just has to be the perfect Christmas pressie!

We caught up with Viv Cole, Warley Woods Trust Manager, who personally compiled Tales of Warley Woods Smethwick, People's Stories of The People's Park, to find out more.

Ever since Warley Woods Community Trust began managing Warley Woods in 2004, people have been coming into the Trust’s office sharing their memories. It became clear that people wanted to share them and that these fascinating stories should be recorded for others to hear. This was the impetus behind planning this oral history project and we were keen to ensure we recorded as many memories as we could.

Beginning in February 2012 with the first training course for interviewers, Warley Woods volunteers have been out and about around the area responding to people who offered stories for the collection. Thirty-nine people have shared the part that Warley Woods has played in their lives and their stories span from the 1920s to the present day.

Some of these memories have now been published in a new book, compiled by Viv Cole, Trust Manager. It covers subjects like leisure time in the Woods, war time, sledging, courting, the site’s lost landmarks, playing golf and working at Warley Woods.

Viv said: “Listening to all the stories has been an absolute delight and it has been a privilege to work on the book. I hope that we have managed to capture much of the joy that Warley Woods has brought to people over that time, recorded some of the names and stories of people who cared for the site and recorded some sense of how the park may have looked over the last 100 years. We are planning a get together of all the people who have been involved on 14th December. It will be lovely to meet some of the people that I have only heard up to now.”

The book, which includes a 37 track CD) is available in the Warley Woods shop at The Pavilion priced £6. There is also an oral history DVD priced £4 which is the culmination of the work of Abbey Junior School and St Gregory’s Catholic Primary School interviewing local residents on film.

The Community Trust has been able to undertake this project thanks to the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund. Their grant provided funding for training, equipment and professional support with sound editing, video production and transcribing.

The results from the whole project, every full interview, every transcript and every photograph will be deposited in Sandwell’s Community Archive at Smethwick Library for future generations.

P.S. Don't forget Santa is coming to Warley Woods this weekend.  Mince pies, mulled wine, Christmas Carols and Santa's Grotto! For more details click here

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