Discovering the history of the Melbourne Centre and finding out about life in York around 1905.
We know what happens at the Melbourne centre in the modern day. As a home to the Blueberry Academy and as a community centre, it's a fun, busy, lively place where people come to learn and meet new friends. But what about when the Centre was first built, back in 1905 (or thereabouts). Why was it built? What sort of things happened there, and what was life like in York at that time?
Records held within York's archives tell us that the Melbourne Centre was built as a base for the Men’s Class (educational class) organised by the local Methodist Chapel. They had been using the previous hall and facilities, but they were no longer big enough. A sub-committee was formed from the Chapel Trustees to look into the possibility of building a new hall in March 1904.
So, what was the surrounding area of Fishergate like at this time? We can get some idea by looking at old photographs and film footage and thinking about questions like...
- Who is in the photograph?
- How are they travelling (bike/car/on foot)?
- What are they wearing?
- Do the places in the photographs look different to how they are today?
Learners on Blueberry Academy's 'Citizenship' course will be thinking about how things such as laws and our rights and responsibilities have changed for the people of York since the Melbourne Centre opened.
- Why was the building known as a 'Men's Institute' and why couldn't women take part? What is different about how the building is used today?
- Were all men welcome at the Institute and what could they learn?
- Whose experiences can we find out about by looking in the archives and are any voices missing?
- Who provided the money to pay for the hall, and why?
- What kind of rights, responsibilities and freedoms did the people of York have in 1905? Was this the same for everyone?
- The building was the idea of local Methodists. What other religious groups existed in York back then?
- On 8th June 2017, the UK will have a General Election. Who can vote in elections nowadays, and has it always been this way?
Blueberry Academy learners will have the chance to put all of their questions to Laura Yeoman, an archivist at Explore York, who will then try to find relevant historical documents and photographs to help answer them.
Along with Storyteller Cath Heinemeyer, the group will be taking part in drama, storytelling, art and writing activities, to show what we have learned, and staff from the University of Leeds will help to put all of these stories and information onto the Yarn website so that it can be shared with others.