Gipton Fire Station, opened in 1937, closed its doors for service in autumn 2015. Gipton Fire Station is a beautiful 1930’s building and it will become, after some internal building work, a base for a number of community organisations (including Space2) and a centre for community activity. Gipton Fire Station has played a really significant role in the local community for the last 75 years, from its establishment in 1937 to the present; current and ex staff, their families and local residents have memories of the station being used for dances, events and community activities as well as Emergency Service. We want to ensure the relationship between the people who worked and lived here and this iconic building are recorded and shared.
We will work with West Yorkshire Archive, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, Leeds Museum and Galleries Service, Leeds Libraries and current and ex fire officers and local residents to identify key moments and characters in the history of the Fire Station; we will then use several methods to capture these memories so they can be shared more widely; and then work with local people to develop interpretation which will be displayed in the Fire Station when it re-opens in Spring 2017. Throughout the process we will film the activity undertaken and there will be significant digital material generated and made available through the project and at its close to ensure wider access then and in the future.
We will launch the project with an event we are calling ‘The Last Dance’. This will be a social event, focusing on engaging local people and creating a buzz about being involved with the Community Research and future projects and the Fire Station and will feature the Fire Service brass bands, to mark the closure of the station and its new future. We will also use this event as an opportunity to collect stories, using a video box to gather memories. We also aim to inspire a small number of community members to put themselves forward as community researchers, who will then work with an experienced researcher over the following six months.
Community Researchers will support the research of the history of the Gipton Fire Station within the communities it served and explore museums and archives, as well as collect oral histories through Show and Tell sessions. Outreach sessions will take place in schools and community settings, asking local people to ‘Show and Tell’ with artefacts they own which link into the story of the station. These artefacts will form the core of our SMART (Social Museum and Art) Gallery, with photographs taken throughout the project.
Children will co create a song and the core cast from Gipton The Musical a mini-drama creating oral histories, sharing heritage in accessible and exciting ways. The project will culminate in an exhibition which will re-launch the new Fire Station as a community resource for the future. We will co-curate a SMART (Social Museum and Art Gallery) Museum with artist Helen Peynton. Residents will donate artefacts relating to the Fire Station. The significance of objects displayed is based purely on people’s attachments or the stories behind the objects. Residents will be invited to label and display their object, and have a photograph taken with it, to create a museum on-line and at the Fire Station.
The SMART Gallery
Anyone can submit something they consider relevant to the history of the Fire Station, whether that is an ornament, a self-penned poem, family heirloom, found object, self -portrait. Anything. Everything is considered for display and the entire exhibition depends on people’s desire to share with other exhibition visitors their special possessions. Artefacts with a back-story are especially welcome. Community members will be invited to label and help to display their object, and have a photograph taken with it in pride of place in the gallery.
Community Researchers will have opportunities to visit other exhibitions and Heritage projects to learn about different ways the artefacts and stories could be exhibited. They will then work alongside the artist to co-design our Burning Embers exhibition, which will be on display at Space2’s new base at the old Gipton Fire Station at the end of the project in Winter 2016/17.
The project has been funded by Heritage Lottery Fund.
Please listen to 102 East Leeds FM – A Day in the Life of a Fire Fighter – radio recording by Laura Taylor.
For more information or if you would like to be a community researcher contact EmmaT firstname.lastname@example.org 0113 214 0113 320 0159 ex 1