Tag Archive: oldham

  1. Once Upon A Year Ago

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    boxes of PPE in Oldham's Queen Elizabeth Hall

    Clare Bamforth is a Mental Health Commissioning Manager within the Adult Social Care commissioning team.  Like so many council staff Clare signed up for entirely new challenges at the start of the pandemic. We love this poem that she has written to record her experiences.

    Once upon a year ago, Helen rang and asked;

    “Clare, would you go to Southlink and help out with some masks?”

    So, Clare went up to Southlink and devised a detailed plan,

    to distribute these facemasks far and wide across Old-ham

    And there began a learning curve so steep it made Clare sigh,

    as she’d never even heard of IIR, FFP or KN95

    With van keys at the ready Clare set off with great enthuse,

    to pick up aprons, gloves, masks, hand gel and even overshoes!

    With that, the PPE Hub was born and so began our quest,

    to provide support and equipment to our providers who are the best

    ‘Twas a difficult time, and ever so busy, but onward we did muster,

    working every hour possible to keep Oldham stocked with PPE and out of a fluster

    With help from our procurement friends – Raj, John and Mo,

    and not forgetting Oldham’s Infection Prevention Nurse of the Year; Glo!!!

    The QEH team and the Civic staff have also been terrific,

    unloading vans, moving stock and helping with the pandemic

    The Library team swapped books for gloves and truly have been great,

    and without them we would have had rather a lot on our plate!

    Now it must be said, at times for Clare, it wasn’t always bad,

    and the army and the firemen helped to stop her feeling sad

    The Easter eggs they went down well, and helped to make amends,

    and another bonus is that Clare has gained some wonderful new friends!

    We’ve had highs and lows, ups and downs, peaks and troughs and tears,

    but through it all we’ve kept going and hopefully allayed some fears

    It’s been an honour and a privilege and often damned hard work,

    but at the same time it’s been good fun – she says with a smirk

    Thank you to the commissioning team for your help and your support

    and for all our combined energy into this battle we have fought

    And finally, to Oldham’s PPE Hub we say a big Merci,

    and one day may we never hear again PPE………

    If you would like to “donate” your photos, poems or other writing to Oldham’s Lockdown Museum, you can do so here.

  2. Oldham’s Lockdown Museum: One year in Tricia Golden

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    It is a whole year since lockdown began in the UK on 23rd March 2020. Soon afterwards, we began Oldham’s Lockdown Museum. The project asked local people to send in pictures and tell us what they were doing in a time of monumental change. Over the coming months, photographs poured in and together they create a revealing and sometimes moving snapshot of Oldham during lockdown. The Lockdown Museum tells amazing stories of how people came together to help one another, adapted their lives and businesses and found the strength to keep going in the most challenging of times.

    To mark the anniversary of lockdown, we have contacted some of the contributors and asked them to reflect on the last twelve months. Here is the latest in a series of revealing blog posts. Today we’re how the life of Tricia Golden was transformed.

    No. 8, Tricia Golden, singer, nature lover and artist

    • Thinking back to 2020… What were you doing in March, when the first lockdown started?

    I was booked to travel to Cambodia on 21 March. This was finally cancelled on 16 March. I had been to the gym for my induction but could not start my annual membership because the assistant was at home isolating. I went to performances at The Lowry and Royal Exchange on 12/13 March and had other tickets booked. After much discussion we decided that the Choral Society rehearsal on 16 March would be the last for a while. I stocked the larder.

    • What suddenly changed for you when the first lockdown started? How did you adapt?

     All social contact through groups and classes stopped. My first event to be cancelled was My Jerusalem at Oldham Library. My first use of Zoom was for a French class usually held at the teacher’s house.  I set up a weekly Friday evening Zoom for 7 single choir friends. I started a diary on 13 March, the first day I was personally affected. Supermarket shopping with rucksack once a fortnight. My car was not used for 12 weeks.

    A newly painted ‘NHS thank you’. The graphitti is on Hough Lane where the lane goes under the A627M bridge, a favourite graphitti site.’
    • What helped you through it, personally and professionally?

    Telephone and video calls and WhatsApp. Weekly Zoom socials give some structure to the week.  The daily hour’s walk got me away from the house and into the burgeoning spring countryside with my phone camera as companion. Through YouTube videos and online courses, I have discovered gel printing, collage and art journals.  Social media groups relating to these subjects has kept me connected with like-minded people. I have recorded photographic and art challenges on social media.

    A Peacock butterfly among the spring blossom of 2020.
    • What has changed between the first, second and third lockdown?

     Oldham only had 3 weeks in July when we weren’t under some sort of lockdown so it has seemed continuous. Originally I thought I would read a lot of books, declutter, sort photos etc. I didn’t. I started online pilates and Gareth Malone’s choirs and tried other online choirs in lockdown 1 but stopped them all. Now in the third National lockdown, I have slowed down, there is no pressure to get anything done. I allow myself to do very little. I even phone fewer people, I have become desocialised.

    • What, if any, have been the positives?

    Calm, time.  Weekly Zoom connection with two groups of friends. Creativity; printing cards and making Artists books, thousands of photos taken on my walks. Online tours of exhibitions and virtual audience for Radio4 shows that would not normally have been geographically possible.

    I have made books of prints from leaves, flowers and feathers foraged on my daily isolation walks which remind me of the time I have had during lockdown to notice the development of the woods and hedgerows and to be creative.
    • What are your hopes for the rest of 2021 and beyond?

     To be together with my two daughters for a delayed Christmas stocking opening. To see their new houses. To see other relatives and friends. Postponed holidays. Family celebrations.

    I hope theatres, museums, musicians and choirs survive. I hope town centres will regenerate.

    I hope Covid threat reduces to that of flu and worldwide and international travel can resume. Too much to hope for in society and inequality, worldwide, nationally and in Oldham.

  3. Oldham’s Lockdown Museum: One Year in Rabia Begum

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    It is a whole year since lockdown began in the UK on 23rd March 2020. Soon afterwards, we began Oldham’s Lockdown Museum. The project asked local people to send in pictures and tell us what they were doing in a time of monumental change. Over the coming months, photographs poured in and together they create a fascinating and sometimes moving snapshot of Oldham during lockdown. The Lockdown Museum tells amazing stories of how people came together to help one another, adapted their lives and businesses and found the strength to keep going in the most challenging of times.

    To mark the anniversary of lockdown, we have contacted some of the contributors and asked them to reflect on the last twelve months. Here we look at how a young artist and activist kept positive by strengthening links with her community.

    No. 7, Rabia Begum, artist and activist

    • Tell us a little bit about yourself and or your organisation. Who are you, what do you do? Where are you from?

    Hi, my name is Rabia Begum. I work as a freelance artist, activist, and board member on Manchester Climate Change Youth Board. I am currently based in Liverpool (term time) studying Art & Design History and Psychology at Liverpool Hope University, but home for me is Oldham.

    • Thinking back to 2020… What were you doing in March, when the first lockdown started?

    I was working as a Visitor Experience Assistant at Gallery Oldham. Volunteering with a local group called Miftaah Initiative, raising £600+ for solar powered water filtration systems in Gaza. Muslims globally shared their first Ramadan in a global pandemic and for many we could reap rewards fasting in the privacy of our own homes without having to worry about physically travelling outside for work/ studies and being grateful for another day. I also wrote my first article for Art UK!

    • What suddenly changed for you when the first lockdown started? How did you adapt?

    Going from keeping myself super busy and on the go to staying at home, sharing my personal space with family, and navigating a balance between work, home, and personal time.

    The absence of my sisters presence is felt greatly this Eid due to lockdown restrictions. Going through the family album, I found this photograph of my sister and I on Eid day in 1998, Osborne Street, Westwood. We lived in this house for a few weeks as our family home was undergoing renovation. Mum noted how we had both hand-picked the traditional South Asian dresses from a popular fashion shop, Modhubon Saree Centre, located in the heart of Westwood.
    • What helped you through it, personally and professionally?

    I kept myself occupied through Ramadan by virtually attending webinars and series by Islamic scholars or online platforms, learning more and praying,. Helping my parents around the home and queuing for family food shops when everyone was ill as well as supporting my father who’s mother and sister passed away. Group chats/ Video calling cousins and friends was a collective therapy of sorts.  Physically when we were able to do so, going on walks and exploring new green spaces.

    Small businesses have had to adapt to the Lockdown restrictions… my friend, a local business woman, ensures her customers are not missing out and still have the option to order cupcakes with a special Friday bake sale. @wonderlust_bakery. They specialise in delicious buttercream/ fresh cream cakes. I hand-painted this
    • What has changed between the first, second and third lockdown?

    We have experienced three different lockdowns with varying time scales and loss of lives. Each lockdown has presented its own issues. The most recent lockdown in winter has affected many significantly as seasonal affective disorders and the shock of more deaths, surpassing 100,000 has taken its toll.

    • What, if any, have been the positives?

    Spending quality time with family, having to live a slower life compared to being on the go pre-lockdown, ability to fast during Ramadan at home, moving away from home to study and knowing that help is out there.

    During the Easter break, I was going to visit one of my close friends in Bristol. However when lockdown restrictions were imposed and many people furloughed, my friend and I discussed how we could use our time to read more and connect through our love for reading. She is writing her very first novel, inspired by Haruki Muraki’s book 1Q84, I look forward to catching up with her in person and hopefully read a sneak peak of her first book!
    • What are your hopes for the rest of 2021 and beyond?

    Working on my mental health, continuing to study and graduate as well as working on climate crisis projects.

  4. Oldham’s Lockdown Museum: One year in Mark Woodcock

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    It is a whole year since lockdown began in the UK on 23rd March 2020. Soon afterwards, we began Oldham’s Lockdown Museum. The project asked local people to send in pictures and tell us what they were doing in a time of monumental change. Over the coming months, photographs poured in and together they create a revealing and sometimes moving snapshot of Oldham during lockdown. The Lockdown Museum tells amazing stories of how people came together to help one another, adapted their lives and businesses and found the strength to keep going in the most challenging of times.

    To mark the anniversary of lockdown, we have contacted some of the contributors and asked them to reflect on the last twelve months. Here is the first in a series of revealing blog posts.

    No. 6, Mark Woodcock, Health and Wellbeing Advisor, Oldham Active Communities

    • Tell us a little bit about your organisation. Who are you, what do you do?

    The Oldham Active Communities Project, run through Oldham Community Leisure, aims to reduce levels of social isolation and loneliness through getting people active.

    As more space was needed leisure centres became foodbanks. Here, staff at Royton unload donations.
    • Thinking back to 2020… What were you doing in March, when the first lockdown started?

    We were running indoor exercise classes in community settings and attending community events to find out if there are any activities groups and individuals would like to try in different areas of Oldham.

    • What suddenly changed for you when the first lockdown started? How did you adapt?

    We could no longer run any exercise classes which resulted in lots of calls to isolated individuals and leisure centre members initially.  We then set fitness challenges and started running classes online.

    A challenge set by Oldham Community Leisure to complete 10 laps of 400m (run) with 10 burpees after every lap completed!
    • What helped you through it, personally and professionally?

    Keeping positive throughout was essential and knowing that the whole country were pulling together.  A lot more partnership working has come as a result.

    • What has changed between the first, second and third lockdown?

    People are more comfortable with online activities.  The weather had an impact on people’s enthusiasm / motivation and people cannot wait for social contact!

    • What, if any, have been the positives?

    More partnership working and there has been good engagement with online activities.  Although online engagement might not be everybody’s preference, it has helped people connect and keep active.

    Equipment packs sent out to Primary School children through the Oldham Active Communities Project. Schools in the borough were contacted to help identify lonely and isolated children and the equipment was sent out to these children to use at home during lockdown and summer holidays
    • What are your hopes for the rest of 2021 and beyond?

    A combination of online and face to face activities to keep people active and an increase in social interaction

  5. Oldham’s Lockdown Museum: One year in Liam Whitehead

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    It is a whole year since lockdown began in the UK on 23rd March 2020. Soon afterwards, we began Oldham’s Lockdown Museum. The project asked local people to send in pictures and tell us what they were doing in a time of monumental change. Over the coming months, photographs poured in and together they create an revealing and sometimes moving snapshot of Oldham during lockdown. The Lockdown Museum tells amazing stories of how people came together to help one another, adapted their lives and businesses and found the strength to keep going in the most challenging of times.

    To mark the anniversary of lockdown, we have contacted some of the contributors and asked them to reflect on the last twelve months. Here is the second in a series of revealing blog posts.

    No. 2 Liam Whitehead-Positive Steps, Oldham

    Tablets ready to be delivered
    • Tell us a little bit about yourself and or your organisation. Who are you, what do you do? Where are you from?

    I manage the Employment & Skills Service who provide a range of employer related learning opportunities to young people across Oldham and across Greater Manchester

    • Thinking back to 2020… What were you doing in March, when the first lockdown started?

    Managing several projects that support a young person work readiness skills. We were also preparing to send out over 3500 young people onto work experience placements

    • What suddenly changed for you when the first lockdown started? How did you adapt?

    Working from home and trying to balance this with home schooling my children. We also had to pivot services and develop an impactful interactive online offer for young people very quickly

    Martin out and about delivering tablets
    • What helped you through it, personally and professionally?

    Getting up early every day and going for a run in Tandle Hills and buying a punch bag! In work, developing new ways of working, learning new skills and supporting my colleagues

    • What has changed between the first, second and third lockdown?

    First lockdown was easiest due to the nice weather. Second lockdown became more difficult due to additional restrictions. Third lockdown has been a slog!

    • What, if any, have been the positives?

    Cherish the small things in life! Don’t sweat the big stuff. Appreciate the importance of human connections and beer gardens!

    • What are your hopes for the rest of 2021 and beyond?

    Getting folk back together to enjoy hopefully a great British summer!

  6. One year in – Alexandra Park School

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    It is a whole year since lockdown began in the UK on 23rd March 2020. Soon afterwards, we began Oldham’s Lockdown Museum. The project asked local people to send in pictures and tell us what they were doing in a time of monumental change. Over the coming months, photographs poured in and together they create a fascinating and sometimes moving snapshot of Oldham during lockdown. The Lockdown Museum tells amazing stories of how people came together to help one another, adapted their lives and businesses and found the strength to keep going in the most challenging of times. Today, we’re revisiting Alexandra Park Junior School.

    Banner showing Welcome Back Everyone in multi-colours and the phrase To Learn, Be Happy and Achieve our best

    To mark the anniversary of lockdown, we have contacted some of the contributors and asked them to reflect on the last twelve months. Here is the first in a series of revealing blog posts.

    No1. Samantha Hickling, Alexandra Park Primary School

    Three children sat on the ground of an assembly hall with a rainbow banner with words Alexandra Park Junior School, Thankyou NHS and Keyworkers.
    • Tell us a little bit about yourself and or your organisation. Who are you, what do you do? Where are you from?

    We are Alexandra Park Junior School, a junior school within Oldham who have been majoritively closed during both the 1st and 3rd lockdown to all pupils except the children of key workers and the vulnerable.

    • Thinking back to 2020… What were you doing in March, when the first lockdown started?

    We had just completed our mock SATs on the day the lockdown was announced. We had just had a successful Book Week and we were planning a variety of future events.

    • What suddenly changed for you when the first lockdown started? How did you adapt?

    We suddenly had to adapt to teaching online with two days notice. Our classes were empty, our children at home with no idea when we wold be back. We expected maybe 12 weeks at most, we never expected not saying goodbye to the Y6 children

    • What helped you through it, personally and professionally?

    Our team at Alex Park are like a family and we all got each other through it. The never ending enthusiasm for the children at home, and their happy voices when we would call to check in.

    • What has changed between the first, second and third lockdown?

    We have really got a handle on remote learning. In the first lockdown we provided work, but now we provide a true learning experience via live lessons. The children are more engaged in it as well.

    • What, if any, have been the positives?

    The positive attitudes from the children – they always see the positive side

    Three children standing outside the school holding paintings and drawings of hearts and rainbows for the NHS.
    • What are your hopes for the rest of 2021 and beyond?

    A return to some form of normal and a chance for our families to be families again. A chance for our children to sit in groups and work together again, rather than in rows. A chance to sing together and play together. No more bubbles!

    Take a look at Oldham’s Lockdown Museum page and see some of the other contributions we’ve received.

  7. This Year

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    Oldham's Lockdown Museum logo

    We are asking you to send us written records of your life in Oldham during the last year of the pandemic. Lesley Reece submitted this poem to Oldham’s Lockdown Museum.

    Tick tock tick tock
    Time passes so slow
    Staring at the same 4 walls
    With nowhere else to go
    Day by day week by week
    Then a year has gone
    A year that seemed ever so bleak
    Was so hard for everyone
    But if you look deeper
    You will remember the laughter
    Not a perfect year by any stretch
    But it’s not all been a disaster
    Our plans may not have taken us
    To where we’d like to be
    Just living day by day
    Can really help us see
    The kindness of others
    Who stop and say hello
    The lonely ones who need your smile
    In order to let theirs grow
    We have seen clapping on the doorstep
    All with our pans and pots
    To let the NHS know
    That we thank them such a lot
    Not being able to see
    Loved ones is very hard
    Getting all your fresh air
    From your very own back yard
    The wearing of our masks
    Has grown natural to me
    The really extraordinary ones
    Are such a joy to see
    Birthdays and celebrations
    Don’t have the same wow
    But we all find different ways
    To enjoy them anyhow
    They say eyes are the windows
    To see inside your heart
    That is quite a good job
    As you can only see that part
    Helping out each other
    Doing a good turn
    Home schooling is a nightmare
    Keeping kid still long enough
    For them to actually learn
    With limited access
    For face to face contact
    It is the hardest part
    Human touch is what we lack
    But we are all doing our bit
    To get through this somehow
    It’s just the way it has to be
    For all of us for now
    So don’t let those days slip away
    Find reasons to smile
    For when this is all over
    You will have done things worthwhile
    Not a day will be wasted
    We have so much to learn
    By showing support to each other
    And doing a good turn
    We can come out stronger
    On the other side
    For acting responsibly
    We can turn this tide.

    If you have written something which you would like us to record for future generations, you are welcome to submit it here.

  8. First an epidemic abroad, then a pandemic at home

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    Oldham resident Rosetta Ceesay worked in Gambia during the Ebola epidemic, which meant she was more prepared for life here during the Covid-19 pandemic than many of us. Here she shares what she learnt during her time in Gambia, and how it has shaped her approach to lockdowns in Oldham. Rosetta’s contribution joins hundreds of other photos and written accounts in Oldham’s Lockdown Museum. Find out more and submit your own entries here.

    My experience of working in Gambia during Ebola and my studies with World Health Organization has been key to my personal response to the pandemic.

    Rosetta and Omar at work in Gambia
    Rosetta and Omar

    I’m 68 now so unable to be in the field working in Gambia now due to many factors. Flights and health mainly. My husband Omar and I went to a hospital there where only one person was allowed in at a time. Security Guard on the door, we had to walk through a disinfectant foot bath like cows do on farms.  Inside, a cleaner was up and down all day mopping floors with disinfectant, the smell of which was evident.

    If I hadn’t been able to speak Wolof I’d have been lost. I held Mrs Secka’s hand. Tubes up her nose and in her arm, she feared death. This was a time when Ebola was a novel virus killing people. Dr Mike Ryan WHO Director General of Health Emergencies now, virologist, was in Congo in flak jacket and metal helmet to do his research. Gut-wrenching times.

    If I could cope with that, I can cope with Covid19.

    I carried on studying with WHO: Covid19-Methods of Prevention and Control, Respiratory Infection, Incident Management and so on. Knowledge saves lives especially during health emergencies. So I armed myself to go back into the field, but in what way? I do what I can, encouraging others to look after themselves and stay safe. I’ve been a speaker on webinars with WHO – New York, all over the world. Zoom Meetings Greater Manchester.

    Rosetta with her self-portrait

    I’m a retired but voluntarily active Research Psychologist/Art Therapist and interested in mental health during the pandemic.  My advice is always the same – The Arts are therapeutic. As an artist myself I know it does me a world of good, and I can’t wait to get back to the Theatre and Gallery. While shielding, I go to 1853 Studios and my studio is my sanctuary. I paint at home, write, make podcasts, have my own Radio show with Sonder Radio and I do it all at home sending them the shows ready to go. I encourage older people to take up a hobby or interest. Sonder do Digi courses, Manchester Cares have Zoom meetings where elder and younger friends continue to meet.  Gardening is good even if it’s just a window box or a few tubs at the door. Keep active. People laugh when I tell them I put on some chart hits on YouTube and dance like nobody’s watching because nobody is watching.  A one person karaoke is great.  I can hit all the bum notes and nobody knows. The neighbours don’t hear. Ha ha!

    Being alone doesn’t have to mean lonely.  Alone at home I can still achieve a lot such as supervising what I usually do in person in Gambia at Christmas. My Team there gave out toys, sweets and clothes to around 1,500 people, mainly children. They took School Supplies to the region’s only Primary School as education isn’t free they also gave money to keep children in school. They continued our tree planting/reforestation with the Children’s Gardening Club helping and learning.  The village is mud huts in the bush. We’ve done lots there and I’m now doing it remotely and online. 100% voluntary action and we love it.

    It’s good to talk. Reform Radio have Buddyline where a volunteer gives an aging person a call weekly and these may lead to Podcasts on Mixcloud. I have a weekly chat.

    We can still have a good life since lockdown isn’t locked up. We aren’t in jail. We can still go out, just with a few sensible restrictions and a mask. The better we are at it the sooner we will be through it especially now there are several approved vaccines in the world. How about we all become encouragers and show our wonderful community spirit in Oldham and make every day a good day. “Life is what you make it” is true. I like C.S. Lewis’s saying:  “You’re never too old to set another goal’ or to dream another dream.” True! This is how I live my life to the full. Stay safe friends and live the dream.

  9. 2020 Pandemic: A Personal History by Joan Stott

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    Joan Stott shares her personal experience of living through the first part of the pandemic.

    He went to bed last night muttering and complaining but it’s not as if you can do anything about it.

    We were together at the beginning, listening to the news on the television. There was something strange happening in Wuhan in China; something about a new virus that was making people very ill and they were all going into lockdown. People had to stay indoors and not venture out. You could see them at their windows or on their balconies, sometimes shouting encouragement to each other across the divide. You felt sorry for them but they were so far away, almost too far away. But yet it was Chinese New Year and you knew deep down it would spread.

    It becomes a terrible fascination and you watched as the virus began to devour like a circling shark until it was lapping and snapping at your own front door. On the news again, Italy is the next country to feel the full force. You watch as the people struggle against seemingly overwhelming odds. Pictures flit across the screen, nurses with damaged faces, and strange silent funerals with almost no one there to say good-bye.

    You wonder how this could hurt so many people. It all seems so desperate but nevertheless you and many others soldier on. At times there are little snippets of hope which you relay to him praying it will lift up his spirit and bring him out of the lethargy and despondency that lurks like a cloud. He potters around the garden, ‘takes me mind off things’ he says.

    The virus grip begins in earnest and now you are not allowed outside or even go to the shops and even more heart breaking cannot visit your family, no not even for a minute. A strange sort of madness takes hold and gazing in wonder at the television screen you see forlorn empty shelves and grown adults fighting over toilet rolls.

    ""
    Shadows, submitted to Oldham’s Lockdown Museum by Linda

    You begin to count every second and then you stand looking out of the window hoping against hope that the sun will start shining and you can at least feel some warmth on your face. You look at your walking boots standing forlorn and unused in the porch, you imagine your feet encased in the leather, and the boots wet from the grass you have walked over.

    Then you silently curse old age, and the isolation you have yet to endure. But then, at least you are safe and you begin to notice the numbers creeping up and you thank God that no one you know has yet to fall victim. Still you look at the prone figures lying vulnerable and alone on their hospital beds and you rage against the helplessness of it all.

    Then Frank. Frank, struggling against dementia, falls victim in his care home and you think about him and remember the times you saw him walking around with his little shopping bag talking to everyone he met. The funeral is a on a bright May morning where the mourners stand apart and strain to hear the priest as his words are drowned by the sound of birdsong. You sprinkle earth on the coffin and wish that Frank could have had the proper send off he deserved in the church he loved.

    Yet there are moments uplifting and heartening. You can hear the dawn chorus in the morning, you smile more as strangers pass by your window and you listen for the crescendo of noise as neighbours clap earnestly for the struggling staff of the National Health Service. Children paint their rainbow pictures and paste them onto their windows and the shoots of normality slowly begin to form.

    You decide it will be safe to venture out but outside is an unknown and foreign place where you stand in queues at the supermarket and stern figures tell you that you are only allowed in one at a time.

    There is a kind of hiatus. Young people flock to the pubs and attend impromptu parties and you are envious of their unconcern and freedom. You yearn for family and friends but then, as you scan the pictures of lost faces, you remember the thousands who mourn. Then you reflect on the small snippets that gave you inspiration, the wonderful Italian voices drifting downwards towards eerily empty streets, the resurgence of nature, the silent empty roads and the sheer resilience of human beings in the face of adversity.

    He passes you a cup of tea, ‘come on love drink up, grandkids will be able to visit very soon.

    For further creative responses to the pandemic and to submit your own, see Oldham’s Lockdown Museum.

  10. Remember When? Retail therapy

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    As we all dash to the shops now that they are reopening for some retail therapy, we’re stepping back in time to look at some of the shopping incentives used in Oldham to get people spending on the high street.

    High Street, Oldham

    In 1928 the Oldham and District Chamber of Trade launched a publicity scheme aimed at encouraging people to support local shops. The highlight of the scheme was ‘The Shopping Festival’ which ran throughout March, and the launch of the ‘Blue Star Shops’ scheme where shops displayed a blue star in their windows. Shoppers who supported these traders then earned coupons which entitled them to enter a draw for a chance to win £500.

    ‘I confidently appeal to all residents to heartily co-operate with the Chamber and to support the present Festival, which will, I trust, prove to be the most successful effort which has been put forth’.

    Mayor, E H Shorrocks

    Another Shopping Festival was held in 1932 as part of the Oldham and District Chamber of Trade Ideal Homes & Industries Exhibition which ran from 6 October to 20 November 1932. The idea of the Festival was to encourage people to shop in Oldham.

    ‘The traders of Oldham & District are in a unique position to provide all your wants, both as to quality and price, and there is no need to purchase outside the area prescribed by Oldham & District Chamber of Trade.’

    Mayor of Oldham
    Tommyfield Market

    As part of the Centenary celebrations in 1949 the Oldham Markets Shopping Festival was held between 21-28 May 1949 to encourage people to shop in the market.

    Now as shops begin to re-open perhaps all shoppers should think that perhaps there really is no need ‘to purchase outside the area’ of Oldham.

    We have hundreds of photographs in the Oldham Local Studies and Archives collection, why not explore using our online collections search?

  11. Natural Connections

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    Blue Butterflies from Richard Cottam collection

    Links between Oldham and Stepney Museums

    Oldham and Stepney Museums are 230 miles apart but were connected for more than one reason in the early twentieth century. Here, we explore the natural connections.

    If you have read the Painting reveals a hidden Oldham Story blog you will already have come across the Fred Stubbs connection. Fred volunteered at the Oldham Municipal Library, Art Gallery and Museum during 1908. When a vacancy arose at Stepney Museum’s Nature Study Centre, Fred applied and secured the post. When Fred moved to Stepney from Oldham in 1909 Stepney was already at the cutting edge of natural history museum development.

    Fred Stubbs shown in The Naturalist by George Henry Wimpenny

    The School Nature Study Union was set up in 1902-3 to help educate families in crowded inner-city areas who may have had no experience of the natural world. Miss Kate Marion Hall, the first woman museum curator in the country, was employed by Whitechapel Museum later Stepney Borough Museum, from 1894 to 1909. She introduced a number of new ideas during her tenure in one of the poorest areas of the country. Kate and the curate of the parish Claude Hinscliffe with the help of an anonymous donation transformed a small disused mortuary building in a churchyard in to a Nature Study Museum. This was a welcoming place for all and remained open till 10pm, with up to a thousand visitors a day. She included living plants and animals including an observation beehive, an aquarium and a weather station alongside traditional museum objects such as taxidermy. So this was where Fred worked and absobed ideas.

    When Fred returned to Oldham ten years later he would have taken up his post in our 1883 building. However I am in doubt as to where the ideas came from when Werneth Park Study Centre (WPSC) opened its doors in 1938 after its donation to the town by the Lees family. WPSC had aviaries, bee hives and glass houses as well as traditional museum displays. Some older readers will remember it. It is sad that Fred died suddenly before the work was completed but all the Stepney innovations were used at WPSC.

    Small Coppers from Richard Cottam’s collection

    Further Connections

    However, there was still a further Oldham connection. Richard Cottam also of Oldham became student assistant to Fred at Stepney Museum for 3 years – approximately 1911 -1914. Fred and Richard knew each other from their Oldham days where they were both members of the Oldham Microscopical and Natural History Society. Then Richard was a piecer in a cotton mill studying insects in his spare time. He worked in Stepney until 1914 when he took the post of Assistant Economic Entomologist in the Sudan and Egypt working for the government where he stayed until he retired returning to the UK in 1949. Gallery Oldham took the bequest of Richard Cottam’s Butterfly collection in 1963.

    Museums hundreds of miles apart but connected through natural history.

    The Stepney Nature Study Museum closed during the WW2 but the building remains and sadly is on the English Heritage Buildings at Risk Register.

    Written by Patricia Francis, May 2020