has been appointed by Chance Heritage Trust to deliver an exciting season of community events and activities in Smethwick.
The project is funded by a Community Renewal Fund Grant and aims to reconnect local residents with the town’s industrial heritage, as part of a mission to bring disused former industrial sites back into use, and give them a new lease of life within the community.
, in the metropolitan borough of Sandwell, has a rich and varied heritage; from medieval archaeology linked to the growth of other towns in the area, such as West Bromwich, to a Cold War era nuclear bunker. But the town’s industrial heritage is perhaps its most significant; the town made a huge impact during the industrial revolution and beyond.
From the late 18th century onwards, the surrounding area was at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution and its complex industrial landscape of canals, railways, factories, houses and public buildings has an internationally significant story, both of how it was a pioneer of British engineering, manufacturing, enterprise, local government and social reform, and also of its context of the British Empire and Commonwealth.
The Chance Brothers Glassworks, located on Spon Lane and stretching along the canals, and Soho Foundry and Mint sites, located on Foundry Lane, bookend the Galton Valley Conservation Area, and represent two important phases in the borough’s history. Both sites are located within the Galton Valley Conservation Area, part of the Black Country UNESCO Geo-Park.
Behind the remains of these disused buildings lie over 200 years of human stories, of men, women and children, and what it was like to live, work, and grow up here.
DigVentures was born from a mission to increase public participation in archaeology and heritage: from medieval castles to miners’ cottages, and from archaeological digs to lively events, we find ways for adults and children to be part of it all – in person and online. We are registered with the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, and recently featured in BBC One’s blockbuster documentary’ Attenborough and the Mammoth Graveyard’.
You can find out more about DigVentures on social media @thedigventurers or visit digventures.com
The 'Made in Smethwick' activity programme aims to raise the cultural and historic profile of former industrial sites, exploring the town’s position at the forefront of British technology and engineering, and also its place within the context of the former British Empire. It reconnects local communities with these disused spaces by creating opportunities to discover the history of their neighbourhood, acquire new skills and experiences, and hold space for people to share memories, forge new connections, and shape proposals for the future of industrial sites.
The hybrid online and in person Activity Programme makes it possible for local place-based communities and online interest-based audiences to explore:
People and the ‘Commonwealth’
The first events begin on Sunday 8th May 2022, and will include guided walks to historic places, museums, and some of the region’s most iconic industrial buildings. The programme also includes talks, classes, and workshops on a range of topics, from how to research your family history, to photographing historic buildings.
'Made in Smethwick' is being delivered in partnership by Chance Heritage Trust and DigVentures, with contributors from
The Living Memory Project, University of Birmingham,
The Jessop Consultancy, and many local cultural groups and social organisations, including charities, faith-based organisations, volunteer groups, and heritage-based bodies.