Three months in and the biggest issue is recruitment. We are still making good progress on the set up but it’s a lot of work for us volunteers. Thankfully we now have York CVS taking on the role of employer and the advert for the Project Worker should go out shortly. We have also decided that, largely thanks to the sterling work done by Sophie Vohra, we no longer need a separate Research Coordinator so will be including this role in the Job Description for the Project Worker. We have plenty of research expertise at our disposal so the role is more of a coordinating one than that of an academic researcher.
Tomorrow is volunteer day at York St John where we will be running a stall looking for interns and placements and the University of York, Askham Bryan and York College will all be publishing our volunteer opportunities list (if you haven’t seen this, I have attached a copy). If we get enough interest this will be the beginnings of the research groups.
As you will see above, we now have a logo and a style guide which will give a clear and distinctive brand to the project. Expect to see it soon on posters, signs and flyers.
The website design by Maraid is now complete and we are working on the content. This includes the ‘front page’ – which is looking good – and the pages for the four research areas as well as the archive. Thanks to Bishopthorpe Local History Group, Kit has been able to load enough archive material to check that it works. We will continue to add material until we are happy there is enough to make it interesting enough to go public. The process of building the archive will then continue throughout the project (and beyond!).
Our intern PhD from the University of York Sophie Vohra has worked with York Explore and Maraid to develop a framework for cataloguing the archive material online. This will work for all aspects of the project and will be continually updated.
Thanks to our radio broadcast we already have a response from one lady who was born and brought up in railway cottages along the route, and the York Railway Appreciation Society will be raising the project at their next meeting. We have also been in touch with the North East Railway Society and York Civic Trust. We can’t understand the impact of the railway without knowing what went before, and Fishergate, Fulford and Heslington Local History Society have agreed to undertake research on the river traffic between Selby and York. We will provide an interpretation board to go on the Naburn Bridge.
The Selby Coalfield
This aspect of the project will be based largely at the National Coal Mining Museum near Wakefield where our volunteers will have access to their archive and the support of their librarian /archivist as necessary.
The National Cycle Network & Solar System Greenway
The purchase of the rail line by Sustrans, the construction of the path and the addition of the Solar System Greenway is well documented and many of those involved are still in contact. The aim here will be to locate and categorise the varied items of interest which are scattered in a number of locations. We are already in contact with key players and much intriguing archive material is held in the archives of the Bishopthorpe Local History Group.
Improving the biodiversity of the path is one of York Greenways’ main concerns and records of the wildlife along what is now a ‘Green Corridor’ were made from time to time from the start. Locating these records will enable us to devise a history of the impact of the changing maintenance and management regimes over the years.
As well as locating and categorising existing archive material, we want to add to the record by means of an oral history programme. We are building a list of potential interviewees with interesting memories and will be providing equipment and training for a programme of oral history recording, both audio and visual. Pilot interviews will take place over the next couple of weeks.
We have funds for permanent interpretation boards which will be created towards the end of the project. In the meantime, there will be temporary boards at key locations.
Artwork and Media
The Arts and Crafts Departments of York College will be developing themed artwork through the winter terms for display – both temporary and permanent – in the spring and summer. With artwork on the bridges along the path the Greenway will become a linear art gallery. A meeting is planned for the beginning of the autumn term.We are also working with street artists to cooperate on a project to create quality artwork in areas spoilt by tagging.
Early plans for digital media had to be dropped to keep within funding limits but we will be looking for additional sources of funding to pursue some of these very exciting initiatives.We will be recording events on still and moving cameras with a view to editing into documentary film at the end of the project and Dave Thorp has allowed us to use his astonishing CGI re-creations on our website.
This will be the main focus of the Project Worker. Their aim will be to support the engagement of the public in the project through talks, visits and practical involvement. Discussions are under way with Get Cycling and Bike Belles to develop a programme of events and activities aimed particularly at those groups presently less involved in cycling or walking.
The Schools Programme
A key element of the engagement strategy will be the schools programme and we have already had a ‘launch’ day for those 110 children from the three local schools who will be Year 5 next year. This term we have had a meeting of Year teachers and will be visiting the three schools individually next week. The project themes will be integrated into numerous parts of their curriculum, hopefully culminating in a pageant in the summer and a teaching pack.