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History Project: Patch to Plate – celebrating green spaces

11146519_10204567614814581_8359894553170870595_nPatch to Plate is a project which aims to celebrate the history of Merridale and Bantock’s green spaces, the development from farmland to housing and the local community’s food production through three outdoor productions that will take place throughout the different seasons over the year in the gardens of Bantock House, as well as a film project in the winter.

The project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) which aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK. Reyahn King, Head of HLF West Midlands said, “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players we’ve provided over £3m to more than 128 Young Roots projects in the West Midlands. We’re delighted to include Central Youth Theatre in that, which has set out to creatively explore a significant chapter of Wolverhampton’s history and its enduring legacy in modern life.”

Each production is accompanied by an exhibition that comprises of research that has been carried out by older members of the community and a young research team and the exhibition will continue to grow as the year progresses and more materials are gathered together.

10422357_10204567616654627_5614214333711740880_nThe first of the three shows, The Spring Offensive, took place on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th April and was a big success. We managed to seat 140 people over the two days and had fantastic feedback through the online review system Tick It.

The upcoming production, Summers of Old, will take place on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th July at 2pm at Bantock Park. Tickets can be purchased at the box office (01902 572091) or on the day.

Summers of Old has been written by former member of the youth theatre Laura Sambrooks and will be performed by 16 of CYT’s young people aged 13-25. The play explores a group of characters in the Bantock area during World War II. When Sarah Thomas starts work at Bantock House she befriends the cantankerous gardener Alfred. With the outbreak of the Second World War the grounds are turned into allotments and the local residents throw themselves into the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign. Sarah and Alfred despair of ever getting anything done with constant interruptions and bickering amongst the other allotment holders, as well the undying mystery of the vegetable thief.

Due to funding cuts, Bantock House is going to be managed in a different way by the City Council, so we think this is a good time to celebrate Bantock’s history. We are very pleased that our project is able to help to keep up the profile of Bantock as it is a much-loved visitor attraction in the local area.

Wolverhampton’s industrial heritage is often explored and celebrated, but the transformation of how it turned from a small rural market town into a large town of factories and workers’ houses during the industrial revolution is rarely given the awareness it deserves. Historical changes and recent modern food production methods have created a real disconnect in the lives of young people in terms of where their food comes from and how it is produced. Through focusing on the history of a local area and also the allotment movement, we want to change this.

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