Historic England announces grant to uncover Birkenhead’s hidden working-class heritage

Birkenhead’s Working-Class Heritage is in the spotlight as Historic England announces funding for community-led projects through its Everyday Heritage Grants: Celebrating Working Class Histories.

The scheme focuses on the heritage that links people to overlooked historic places, with a particular interest in recognising and celebrating working-class histories.

Working with the local community, this project will undertake research, workshops, share stories and hold a community event to recognise Birkenhead’s working-class history.

The announcement follows an open call earlier this year, inviting community or heritage organisations across the country to apply for grants of up to £25,000 in a bid to further the nation’s collective understanding of the past.

Andrew Shaw, Convenience Gallery Director, said, “Receiving the award for this project is a massive honour. We’re excited and proud to work with local people explore and tell the working class histories of the town.

“Birkenhead is home to the first municipal park in the world, pubs of historic significance, the first art school outside London, the shipyards and so much more. Our whole ethos as a community interest company is about making accessible ways for people to come together through arts and culture. We can’t wait to get started.” 

Heritage should be for everyone. But not everyone’s stories are told and not everyone’s history is remembered. Historic England’s Everyday Heritage Grants aim to address this imbalance by engaging with the widest possible range of heritage.

The project will enable people to creatively share overlooked or untold stories of the places where they live and encourage communities, groups and local people to examine and tell their own stories in their own ways.

Local heritage gives people a sense of pride in place and can act as a powerful catalyst for increasing local opportunities and prosperity. 

The town’s rich heritage includes Lairds Shipyards, Birkenhead Market, Birkenhead Park, The Laird School of Art, Mersey Ferries, Birkenhead Priory and Tranmere Rovers FC.

The project will ensure that everyone involved has shaped the work to demonstrate a place where ordinary people work and live. 

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, said, “I’m excited to see the wide range of creative approaches and subjects proposed for Everyday Heritage Grants: Celebrating Working Class Histories. These community-led projects demonstrate that heritage is all around us and accessible to everyone. They will highlight that wherever people live they are surrounded by historic buildings, landscapes and streets, industrial and coastal heritage that can help bring communities together.

“The histories of castles and great houses and their inhabitants are well documented, but we know far less about our everyday heritage. From council estates, pubs and clubs, to farms, factories and shipyards, these are the places where most people have lived, worked and played for hundreds of years. We want to explore these untold stories and celebrate the people and places at the heart of our history.”

Image: Clockwise from top left, Birkenhead Market, The Priory, Hamilton Square Station Booking Hall, Laird School of Art.

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