THE LIVING MEMORY PROJECT
The Living Memory Project (CIC) captures and celebrates personal photography collections and everyday life stories from across the Black Country region. The project started in 2018 and finishes in 2021 with the publication of the limited edition Living Memory book (available to buy now) and our final exhibition at the New Art Gallery Walsall
Our website features recorded life stories and personal photographs shared by participants from across the Black Country region, and showcases our many micro-projects, artist commissions and films. You can read more about the project here.
The project was funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England, with additional support from Sandwell Council, GM2LF Big Local, the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Black Country Living Museum.
Featured photograph and story from the archives
When I got older I passed my 11 plus and went to the grammar school. I left grammar school in 1965 and my first job was a furniture salesman in West Bromwich, a place called Pawson’s Furniture Store. I didn't stay there too long because I then set off and did a summer season working in a hotel in Woolacombe in North Devon called Coombes Hotel That was fantastic. That was like one big long holiday. But of course, it didn't last. And at the end of the season, I came back and I had to find a job. And I thought, well, I have to get a career. So Dad says, "Why don't you go down the same line as me." That was as a dye stamper in the printing trade. I enrolled in an apprenticeship at the place where he worked. He asked if I could be 'took on' as an apprentice and they accepted me. And so I did an apprenticeship at the small company over in Shirley, near Solihull as a dye stamper. But unfortunately, the job came to an end because the place closed down. So once again I was out of work. This would've been the late 1960's, round about 1970.
From there I worked as a baker’s roundsman for Wilson’s Bakery in West Bromwich delivering bread and cakes to people’s houses. My uncle John was working there at the time and he told me there were jobs going so I just went along and applied. In those days it wasn’t a formal interview, you just went along and said, "I'd love to come and work here, are there any jobs going?” If there were, they would say, "Well, when can you start?" There wasn't much to getting work in those days. There were many jobs around. Now, they seem to be few and far between.
I worked at a couple of other places after that. one was Smith-Corona making typewriters on the assembly line. From there I managed to double my income overnight after a successful interview at the Birmid working in the core shop. I stayed there up until the place closed down. Once again, I was made redundant. In fact, the whole of the Birmid complex closed down in the 1970s with the loss of in the region of about 4,500 jobs. When you think just how many people were employed in the car industry making engine parts and it just went, the whole lot went.