Cradley Heritage Project gets the go-ahead



The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded a grant of £49,700 to Cradley Then & Now Heritage Project to bring about the recording of local Black Country history.

Through the project the community will be rediscovering Cradley's diverse past.

Cradley Then and Now group leaders have mapped out a 16 month programme to involve all generations in exploring the History of Cradley and its People; Cradley at Work and at Play; and Cradley at War. The group is starting the project by recording Cradley In Pictures and is inviting everyone who has photographs, films and artwork about Cradley to get in touch. Information about everything and anything to do with Cradley's history is of interest.

During the project the Then & Now group will be involving Cradley's 3 schools in games, song, dance and stories from Cradley's past. Children will be helping to illustrate stories in paintings and drawings. They will participate in a visit to a former air raid shelter where they will hear the sounds and experience what it must have been like during the enemy bombing raids of WW2. Cradley Then & Now will also be working together with Providence Church's 'No Strings Attached' group to produce short puppet shows, with music and singing to illustrate episodes from the past using Cradley's unique accent.

Typical of Cradley stories will be that of the life of England soccer legend Steve Bloomer, the world's first Soccer Superstar, which will feature his descendants and film from his club Derby County FC.

The organisers will be encouraging people to have their memories of Cradley recorded on film to share with others in a series of movies on the history of the village. Events are planned to be held throughout the area where everyone can call in to share their heritage with like minded people from Cradley Then & Now group.

Anyone who is interested and would like to participate - in person or online, anywhere in the world - is invited to join over 70 volunteers, schools and youth groups who have already agreed to take part in the project.

Jill Guest, a founding member of the group said, "There are a lot of people who have pictures and memorabilia of Cradley lying around the house or hidden away in drawers. We appeal to everyone not to let them be lost for ever. Now is their opportunity to get in touch with Cradley Then & Now group so that items from the past can be recorded for future generations."

Leading up to the project Cradley's local history group have been putting on a Cradley chain making exhibition at the Black Country Living Museum, Dudley. Chain making is synonymous with Black Country heritage and particularly with Cradley. About the end of the 19th century there were 918 chainshops registered in Cradley, Cradley Heath, Old Hill, Netherton and Quarry Bank. The exhibition is due to continue over 6 months from mid-June and features historic photographs of chain makers from Cradley, the tools and artefacts that men, women and children used to make chain, plus various sized chains produced. Complemented by sounds from the past, amongst the exhibits on show are: an embroidered tapestry featuring Worcester Regimental battle honours created by Thomas William who worked for Griffin Chains, an exquisite carving of a chain maker at work at his hearth by David Skidmore and a miniature anvil and tool sets by J Sykes (c. 1860), on loan from Chapman's Electrical of Cradley Heath.

A special inaugural meeting for gathering material for 'Cradley In Pictures' took place at the Unitarian Church Hall, Park Lane, Cradley on Monday 27th July 2009.

Speaking about the project Jill Guest said, "Naturally we are all delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has agreed to award a substantial grant towards financing the project. None of us imagined 10 years ago that we would have our own exhibition in one of the Country's most prestigious museums and be embarking on such a valuable and demanding community based project as the one we have planned. Gaining recognition for the project from the Heritage Lottery Fund together with the grant award will enable us to involve far more Cradley people in participating in what we do to rediscover Cradley's heritage."

Jill added, "By the end of the project the Heritage Lottery Fund grant will also have enabled us to produce education packs about Cradley's history for use in schools, libraries, residential homes and community centres, and those will be complemented by a series of short history movies about Cradley and its people."

For further information, please contact Cradley Then & Now Heritage Project:

  • Telephone: 01384 635969
  • Contact: Project Lead - Harry Bloomer
  • E-mail: info@h-arts.co.uk

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Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)


The HLF gives grants to a wide range of projects involving the local, regional and national heritage of the United Kingdom. HLF distributes a share of the money raised by the National Lottery for Good Causes. It enables communities to celebrate, look after and learn more about our diverse heritage.

From museums and historic buildings to local parks and beauty spots, or recording and celebrating traditions, customs and history, HLF grants open up the nation's heritage for everyone to enjoy.

HLF invests £208 million a year in new projects in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Since 1994 HLF has supported over 30,000 projects allocating over £4.5 billion across the UK.