For delving into local history, students and lecturers at University of Central Lancashire lead the way.
The Heritage Network at UCLan is a community of people from across the university with an active interest in heritage, in all its various forms.
Its main aim is to help those working in the area of heritage to become aware of and engage with others with cognate interests.
Over the last few years, the students created a podcast documenting the lives of the women who worked in the mills of Lancashire, focusing on their work, home and social life; worked with the Preston Historical Society and discovered how important the Co-operative movement was in Preston and the effect it had on the city and its people through the 1930s right up to its decline in the 1980s; and curated an exhibition charting the history of the Leyland Paint and Varnish Company.
This year, the students, under the guidance of public history lecturer Jack Southern, are looking into five more projects, hoping to uncover interesting historic tales.
They are working with Goosnargh and Whittingham Heritage Group and Heritage Learning Lancashire, focusing on local traditional folk lore and how these stories passed through communities.
Students are also in talks with Whittingham Lives, a two year multi-faceted arts and heritage project aimed at researching, exploring, celebrating and critically reviewing the culture and legacy of Whittingham Asylum in Preston, focusing on conscientious objectors during the war.
Other projects include examining the change in the landscape with Burnley Civic Trust and Weavers’ Triangle and examining the relationship between Burnley Football Club and Gawthorpe Hall.
Jack says: “I lead the history projects with our students and adult community groups around Lancashire.
“I find local history really interesting. I enjoy the way people remember the past and how they can engage with different groups of people from across different communities and towns.
“I can’t pick one particular research as my favourite as they are all fascinating.
“Every time I do one, I am surprised at how engaged everyone is.
“But one that stands out for me is the peak and decline of the cotton industry and how it affected different parts of Lancashire.
“I was looking at the social and cultural side of the industry, rather than just the economics.
“For the last couple of years the university has been given grants to work with community groups and explore different aspects of local history.
“We gain help and information from displays, community research and we have delivered bespoke training on how to do oral history projects.
“This is all important work as it allows the students to get experience of working in real situations, speaking to different communities and extracting information from people’s memories.
“UCLan is celebrating its 190th anniversary this year and has organised a lot of heritage activities.
“As a result, the history department is trying to push forward community engagement.
“Along with this, we will have a series of public talks from January to March next year on the last Wednesday of the month.”
Jack adds his love of history stemmed from visits to other towns with his parents.
He says: “I have always been interested in identity and the way people see themselves and how they see the communities in their towns. My parents used to take me on long trips to different areas and that’s how it all started.”