South Square’s history as a place for people to connect stretches far back beyond its life as an arts centre. In its former life, South Square was a small community of dwellings, built in 1832 and inhabited up until the late 1970’s.
The small cottages formed around a U-shaped courtyard, with shared facilities and a washroom, was a unique place for many families. The square was a place for play, a place for family, a place for chit chat, a place for a favour, a place for friends, a place for new life and a place to pass on.
Heritage Activities Officer Alice Withers led an oral history project collecting intriguing accounts of life at South Square and accounts of Thornton Village life. Throughout 2020, we worked with 6 volunteers trained in oral history to interview 8 participants. Interviews took place over October and November 2020, interviewing participants as far away as Australia, over zoom and in person.
Volunteers worked to develop the questions and to summarise the accounts ready for submission into the archive. We will be submitting the recordings to the West Yorkshire Archive, along with historic recordings currently held in the Thornton Antiquarian Archive. Volunteers will continue to gather recordings as part of a long-term continuation of the project.
We have used the recordings as the basis for two projects so far; Echoes of Thornton and the In Shipshape exhibition. You can listen to some of the unedited recordings on South Square’s mixcloud below.
With thanks to the participants and volunteers for their contribution to this project.