Lancaster workshops explore past with poetry

Poet, Mandy Coe.
Poet, Mandy Coe.

A chance to explore the lives of local people born before World War One and learn from an awardwinning writer is being offered for free in Lancaster.

North West poet, Mandy Coe is leading workshops in February and March inspired by the Elizabeth Roberts Working Class Oral History Archive that captured the voices and memories of people in Lancaster, Preston and Barrow from 1890 up until the 1970s.

She is one of several artists brought together by the Lancaster-based arts and heritage company, Mirador, to take part in their latest project – Walking In Others Footsteps – a celebration of the digitisation of the archive by the Regional Heritage Centre at Lancaster University.

Mandy said: “I have recently returned from a residency in China where a group of international writers discussed culture, language, memoir and storytelling. I was so proud to talk about this innovative project..

Over forty years ago, Elizabeth Roberts believed working class Lancashire voices were important enough to record. Thank goodness she did. What it captures is priceless.

The archive is a lens into the past; topics include family, community, work and leisure. For the workshops I sourced some objects mentioned in the archive – including slides for a magic lantern.

I aim to share how rich this resource is for anyone who writes. Whether it is narrative, rhythms of speech or connecting with social history – I am sure you will be inspired!”

The free workshops feature an introduction to the archive, and through guided writing activities, create an opportunity to respond to it through creative writing.

Those with no previous creative writing experience are invited to attend workshops from 11am-12.30pm at Lancaster Library on February 24 and The Storey on March 17 (come to one or both).

Experienced writers and poets keen to be inspired by the archive can attend the afternoon sessions from 1.30-3.30pm at Lancaster Library on February 24 and The Storey on March 17. Different writing activities will be explored in each session.

Anyone interested should register with Mirador, by emailing george@miradorarts.co.uk