Community consultation during lock down

As part of the High Street Heritage Action Zone we are talking to local people about Eldon Street in Barnsley. However, the Covid-19 restrictions mean that we can’t use the face-to-face methods that we usually would, so we have developed a creative consultation pack to encourage people to share their thoughts in different ways. HAZ officer Tegwen Roberts tells us more.

Eldon Street High Street Heritage Action Zone

The Eldon Street Heritage Action Zone was launched in November 2020. You can read more about it on our previous blog (Eldon Street Heritage Action Zone). As part of the new scheme we are keen to know what local people think about Eldon Street, what they love about it, stories they think should be told, and what they want to see for Eldon Street in the future.

Under normal circumstances we would start planning lots of face-to-face chats and drop-in events in the area, but the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions in 2020 and 2021 mean that this just isn’t possible at the moment. So instead, we’ve been working with artists Jane Yorke and Stephanie Strickland from Blackbird Publishing to develop a creative consultation pack of Eldon Street activities that people of all ages can take part in.

These activities will give local people chance to have their say and share their thoughts, find out about the history of Eldon Street, and have a bit of creative fun at the same time. We will be sending physical packs out to local schools and community groups and we’ve also created downloads and online versions so that people can have a go at home.

Creative Consultation Activities

Front sheet of the community consultation pack featuring illustrations of historical places and events connected to Eldon Street
The creative consultation pack will allow local people to have their say about Eldon Street and help to shape the Eldon Street High Street Heritage Action Zone (Illustrations and design by Blackbird Publishing)

The pack is designed to work for people of all ages, including families and includes bonus activities including an Eldon Street History Hunt and a cut out and colour-in model Civic. There are also two competitions, each with the chance to win a £25 Barnsley Gift Card (find out more about the Barnsley Gift Card).

Do you know where all the local landmarks are on Eldon Street? How many lions are guarding the Queens Hotel? How many faces are on Harral’s clock? What year did the Eldon buildings open? Are there any other local landmarks you think should be celebrated?

What do you know about the grand circus that once stood on Eldon Street, or the Mechanics Institute and Public Hall (now the Barnsley Civic) that opened in 1877? Test your knowledge on the Eldon Street Quiz, or the Eldon Street History Hunt (opens as a pdf) and let us know how you did!

Victorian shop clock with decorative scrolled bracket and Benj Harral written above and below the face
Do you recognise Benj Harral’s landmark clock? How many faces does it have? What other treasures can you spot on Eldon Street? (Illustration by Blackbird Publishing)

Do you have any personal stories of the street that you’d like to share? Did you go to Dollies? Do you remember the sloping floor in Woollies? Send us a postcard with your stories, inspired by Eldon Street’s famous postcard photographer. Or do you have a great idea of something you’d love to see on Eldon Street in the future? If so, grab a shopfront sheet (opens as a pdf) and get sketching! We’d love to hear your ideas, however wild and wacky. There’s even a cut and colour model of the Barnsley Civic (opens as a pdf) so you can create your own version of this famous Eldon Street landmark. If you do, please share a photo on social media and tag us @EldonHAZ. We’d love to see what you come up with!

Black and white line drawing of the front of the Barnsley Civic building
Create your own model of the Barnsley Civic (formerly the Barnsley Mechanics Institute and Public Hall) one of the landmark historic buildings that makes Eldon Street so special.

How can I get involved?

The activity sheets in the pack can all be downloaded from the HSHAZ page of the council website as accessible pdfs. There are also digital versions of Eldon Street Have Your Say and the Eldon Street Quiz that can be filled in online, and you can share your feedback with us by e-mail (EldonStreetHAZ@barnsley.gov.uk) and social media. We would also love to hear from any local groups that would like physical copies of the pack.

Routed in Barnsley

Another creative consultation project taking place in lockdown is Routed. This project is asking people to share their stories of Barnsley town centre in partnership with Barnsley Museums Heritage Trust. Again, the usual face to face approach hasn’t been possible due to Covid restrictions, but Creative Producer Katrina Whale and Artist Paul Slater (Fabric Lenny) have been devising creative ways of working with local people remotely. The project has a website where people can share their town centre stories, and local people have been sending in photos and written memories. Some volunteers have also been using single use cameras to capture what is meaningful to them in the town centre. These contributions will be used to inspire a physical contemporary art trail around the town centre, and an exhibition in Experience Barnsley at the Town Hall in October 2021. For more information visit the Routed in Barnsley website. You can also watch this short project trailer.

Overall it continues to be a challenging time for everybody, but creativity and creative thinking is helping us to reconnect and continue talking to the local communities who are at the heart of everything that we do.

The Eldon Street consultation will run until the end of March 2021. For more details please visit the HSHAZ consultation page on the main council website. 

Fancy another digital puzzle? Try the Civic jigsaw, part of our #MuseumJigsaws series.