Cotton Threads: Bury's Industrial Links to Slavery

Children exploring an exhibition at Bury Art Museum

Making a difference

How the project achieved HLF’s outcomes for heritage

  • The condition of the papers was improved through conservation work prior to display.
  • The collection was better interpreted and explained through the exhibition, activities in libraries, and school sessions and resources.
  • The papers were catalogued for the first time, with the records being made available online.

How the project achieved HLF’s outcomes for people

  • School groups learnt about how their local heritage linked to global histories, including the slave trade. Adult learners found out about the heritage through practical activities including Victorian cooking classes.
  • People volunteered their time to support the project. Two students from a local college volunteered at the opening of the exhibition, reading extracts from the papers. Two teachers volunteered to produce a history resource pack for key stage 3 pupils (11-14 year olds). Volunteers from a local adult learning centre helped document and interpret recipe books found in the collection.
  • The multi-disciplinary project team became more aware of the specialisms of colleagues and developed new skills through working alongside each other.
  • The project team learnt about the heritage significance of the papers through interpreting them in the context of the transatlantic slave trade.

How the project achieved HLF’s outcomes for communities

  • More people and a wider range of people engaged with the heritage. Over 9,000 people visited the exhibition over a 14-week period.  The talks and family activities in libraries reached 200 people who do not usually visit the archives service or museum.
  • The organisation became more resilient by recruiting new volunteers, sharing expertise within the organisation and developing an on-going relationship with teachers. 

Find out more about the difference we want your project to make.

Lessons learnt

  • Think laterally about how archive collections can be exploited in unusual ways by working with different partners. For example, working with teachers helped created schools resources that were fit for purpose.
  • Think about how a short-term project can create much longer-term impact. Build flexibility into your plans so that you can seize opportunities as they arise. Teachers have to work to their schools’ timeframes, so it is important to bear this in mind when working with them. 
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