Luton Cultural Histories

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Luton is full of iconic buildings, many of which have played an important part in the history and development of Luton. Following the success of our Luton Peace Riots projects and continuing the theme of exploring the diverse heritage of Luton. For our next project we have identified and will be exploring the history of 4 buildings in Luton. There is considerable interest in the buildings themselves but we are more interested in family stories about how you and your relatives remember using these buildings. For each of the buildings we will capturing and recording stories about how use of the buildings has changed over the generations. We have also partnered with a number of local schools with the aim of introducing Luton’s heritage to a new generation of Lutonians as part of Key Stage 2 working within the national curriculum requirements.

As the project progresses we will post more about these places over the coming weeks and months but in the meantime we very much welcome any memories you have and would like to share. Please contact us via our Facebook page or by email: steve.goodman@culturalhistories.org or mike.mcmahon@culturalhistories.org

Chosen Buildings

The four buildings we have chosen are:

  • 116 Bury Park Road, now an Islamic learning centre but previously the town’s synagogue and before that a cinema and a factory manufacturing aircraft propellers. For this building we have been working with the Foxdell Schools Federation and particularly Foxdell Infant and Junior and Dallow Primary Schools.
  • 31 Cardigan Street, now a Sikh Gurudwara but previously a Methodist church and a Welsh Congregational church
  • Norton Road School, still a school after all these years!
  • Chapel Langley Nursery School, located at the botttom of Farley Hill, previously a primary school

The Islamic Centre Bury Park Road

 

The Sikh Gurdwara Cardigan Street

 

Norton Road School

 

Chapel Street Nursery

The Schools Connection

For this project we have partnered with a number of local primary schools. The aim is to introduce Luton’s heritage to a new generation of Lutonians.

Each school has agreed to focus on one of the chosen buildings. The approach we are using is to research the buildings’ histories and produce summaries supplemented by video recordings of the family stories. Using the historical summaries and the recordings, the teaching staff, working within the national curriculum requirements, will create learning material introducing the children to the changing face of Luton and its communities.

The schools involved so far are:

  • Dallow Primary School and Foxdell Infant and Junior Schools – Islamic Centre, Bury Park Rd
    • Dallow Primary School: Year 3 – 3 classes took part – 90 children
    • Foxdell Infant School: Year 1 – 3 classes took part – 77 children
    • Foxdell Junior School: Year 4 – 3 classes took part – 80 children
  • Bushmead Primary School

To date a total of nearly 250 young Lutonians have been engaged in the project viewing the videos and working with the teaching staff; the children reviewed the research information to learn about the different aspects of the history of various buildings, developing a series of class-based projects.

Comments from the teaching staff included:

  • “We are aware that children know more about TV personalities than their local area and this project certainly confirmed that…”
  • “From a teacher view, I like how the past was brought to life and a lovely building was given a chance to shine again…”
  • “Seeing how little the children knew about an area so close to us made me realise just how important local history and geography teaching is…”
  • “Working together with Cultural Histories  meant we could use authentic, firsthand resources…”
  • “For instance, authentic stories from Mrs Scott’s childhood helped children to compare their own life to times 100 years ago…”
  • “The project helped my pupils develop their self-awareness further…”
  • “This project also highlighted an alarming issue that some children were unaware that they live in a town called Luton. One thing I take away from the project is that as teachers we should teach topics connected to our neighbourhood or town as much as possible…”
  • “The Cultural Histories Project links the individual into the community, strengthening both the community and the individual as part of the community – the more they know about their town, the more they belong and the more they appreciate it…”