by Katie Shipley 25 February 2011
For the second day with the Voice 21 group we went to visit Mo and Richard at Sandwell Community History and Archives Service at Smethwick Library.
Mo and Richard led the group on a tour of the basement of the archives, showing us what felt like secret passages and telling us all about the spooky experiences they have had and heard of. They showed us hidden rooms and talked about passageways that are locked up and cannot be entered. Including a row of stables for horses.
We looked at the colliery incident and the different documents that enable us to trace the lives of the men and the boy who were killed.
One of the group also came across this map that shows the area that all the archives have come from. The archive service looks after over 3 miles of documents and objects, a number that grows every day.
After the tour we had some pizza and went back to the archives to look at some documents from Accles and Pollock and FHL. I think the group enjoyed looking through the documents, seeing the photographs and reading about the things that used to happen when working in the industry. They had lots of questions for Mo. The group were also able to look up old images of the places that they live in, some barely recognisable.
We talked a bit about how we are going to progress with the project, looking at generating some audio archives for the archive service and creating artwork for the exhibition in the summer. We are going to look into a Vox Pop in the town centre or at a football match and an organised interview session.
Here are some of the comments from the group:
‘I enjoyed listening to the stories that Mo was telling us.’
‘I enjoyed the stories, the pizza and visiting the dungeons.’
‘We all enjoyed listening about how well the history of the area is being preserved.’
‘It was a very fantastic experience, enjoyed learning about the archives and has inspired me to create my own in the near future.’