Residents Celebrate the Completion of Bessbrook Model Village Living History Archive
Friends and local residents from Bessbrook recently celebrated the completion of the Bessbrook Model Village Living History Archive project, at an event in Bessbrook Town Hall.
The project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, developed local skills by using creative interpretation to tell the story of Bessbrook and sought to engage the local community in an entertaining way through the use of intergenerational and cross-community workshops.
The event launched a brand new interactive website featuring six fabulous short films which explore and interpret the history of Bessbrook in a modern way. The films were produced from media training workshops involving local young people aged 16-25 who were not in education, employment or training at the time. The workshops in video production, writing and developing storyboards and scripts, filming and editing were provided by local company Slack Press.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Roisin Mulgrew said, “Bessbrook has a rich tapestry of history that is at risk of being lost in the digital age. The Living History Archive has offered us a fantastic opportunity to record and preserve this element of our heritage and it is exciting to see the various ways in which this has been achieved, unveiled at this event.”
Shelia McClelland from the Heritage Lottery Fund said, “We are delighted that money raised by National Lottery players could fund this engaging local heritage project. As an early Quaker village, Bessbrook has a fascinating heritage and still retains so much of the original buildings and layout. This project has brought that heritage to life in an imaginative and creative way and has involved lots of local people exploring and sharing their heritage. We congratulate the project team on all their hard work.”
The website also includes an online archive of images of the items brought to a Show-and-Tell evening in July, which encouraged people to bring along items of historical interest to be examined and photographed; creating a valuable online resource that crosses the generational and global divide.
Also on display during the evening was the creation of a piece of art entitled, ‘Now and Then’. This sensory wall hanging is the result of extensive engagement and input from the local community and includes poetry extracts and felted panels created by the participants. The piece is available to view in Bessbrook Library and images of it can also be seen on the new website.
Not all elements of the project were virtual and a key part was the provision of a series of fascinating guided walks by Rosemary Mullholland. Walkers experienced the dawn chorus in Derrymore and discovered the industrial heritage of the Camlough River and its impact on the development of the area. They were also given the opportunity to explore the Millworkers House in College Square East, which has been restored by the Bessbrook Development Company in the style of the late 1900s.
To view the website, watch the six short films and explore its database of artefacts, go to www.bessbrook.org.