10 Dec 2019

Middleton Memories

Angharad Phillips

In May of this year, to coincide with Local History Month, the Regency Restoration Project , in conjunction with People’s Collection Wales ran a month long event to capture  lots more stories and memories of those who used to live and work on the Middleton Hall Estate during the 1930s – 1990s. This built on the work of interviewing and capturing these memories which begun in 2015 by our team of dedicated volunteers.

In June of this year we launched the Middleton Memories Exhibition with a private opening inviting all of the known ex-residents of the estate to view the exhibition before it opened to the public. The day was a real day of celebration, reunion, laughing, reminiscing and sharing stories prompted by the hundreds of photographs on display. Ninety-four people attended the exhibition opening.

Middleton Memories exhibition is, first and foremost, a celebration of the people who lived and worked here. From evacuees to miners, wives to farmers, children, parents and grandparents, Middleton Memories is a tribute to all those who called the estate home.

A popular meeting place of the residents was by the milk stand, captured in many black and white photographs. At the exhibition, Hefina who grew up on the estate noticed one of the photographs of the milk stand with a little boy sitting on it. ‘I used to babysit that little boy’ she told us,’ his name was Peter. Gosh, I haven’t seen him since I left the estate!’ Peter was there at the exhibition opening and thus followed a reunion of friends who hadn’t seen each other for over forty years!

For me it was a privilege and an honour to meet and interview some of the ex-residents in May and curate the vast archive of memories in preparation for the exhibition. Through their voices, their stories came alive and it really felt as if I knew them, their families and had become part of their lives. At the exhibition itself, meeting the people who I had got to know over the past weeks was just incredible, emotional and so, so wonderful.

Jo, our Cultural Heritage Apprentice worked on collating, scanning and archiving the vast collection of photographs as well as designing the overall exhibition. This is what she has to say about her experiences…

“When we began Middleton Memories I thought it was a really interesting perspective to take on the Garden’s history, but the more I worked on it, the more invested I got in it. It was no longer just a period in the Garden’s history, but was people’s family memories and their old homes; meeting them and reading their stories really brought the period to life in my mind.

 It was amazing how many stories overlapped, mentioning the same families, or the same areas where they used to play, it really brought the sense of community through, and it all made me want to get this project right; I needed to do these people’s memories and feelings justice.”

The May event and the exhibition was very much a team effort from the whole of the Regency Restoration team and our History Research Group. To be able to tell the stories of this part of the history of the estate is very much a privilege and we hope that you enjoy the exhibition as much as we did putting it all together.

The Middleton Memories Exhibition will be on display at Y Oriel Gallery from 30th November to 29th January 2019. Search Middleton Memories on People’s Collection Wales https://www.peoplescollection.wales/