Belgrave’s rich history captured in book and DVD

April 29, 2015

A COMMUNITY history project which gathered memories, experiences stories and photographs of Belgrave from around 80 people has now produced a book and DVD.

The project began over two years ago, when Belgrave’s Community Development Officer, Stuart Etheridge asked for the public’s help in getting as much information on the rich history of Belgrave – with particular focus on the area’s industrial past.

While carrying out local research, Stuart and volunteers from the Belgrave ARCH came across another local history project involving a group of students from Belgrave High School – now Tamworth Enterprise College Belgrave and decided to team up and to carry out the vital legwork on the project.

A grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund allowed the project to use a professional heritage interpreter, Peter RALi Studios, to work with the volunteers and students to collate the information coming in from the public.

The team worked on the project for more than 12 months, visiting libraries, searching the internet, contacting people who may have information, as well as filming and recording interviews with many current and former residents with memories to share.

The results of all the hard work have now been turned into a book and DVD, entitled Belgrave Then and Now – A Short History.

It features maps detailing the growth of Belgrave since 1923 when it only had three roads and 80 houses, old photographs of Skey’s Works, the Queen’s coronation in 1953, Beauchamp Colliery, buildings developed since the 1970s and Belgrave Lakes.

There are also a number of first-person interviews with people who have long-standing links with Belgrave and who were happy to share with memories.

The book and DVD are available free of charge from the Tamworth Tourist Information Centre in Corporation Street. Copies have also been distributed to community centres and history groups – and every pupil at the TEC will receive a copy.

The next step in the project is to further develop a website – and Stuart is inviting people with memories they may not have shared to get in touch and get involved.

He said: “This local history project has been a lot of hard work, but has been extremely enjoyable. We wanted to give people in Belgrave the chance to share their memories and preserve them for future generations, and we are very grateful that so many people got involved. It will not only prove to be a useful educational tool for local schools but could also be used to make links between young and old generations.”

“Everyone involved with the project worked very hard to make it happen and I would like to thank them for all their efforts. It’s not too late to take part as we are now looking at developing the website, so anyone who has pictures or stories to share can contact me on stuart-etheridge@tamworth.gov.uk or call 07891 052164.”